Last Sunday morning I was at Bear Trap Ranch, near Colorado Springs, waiting for the breakfast line to begin, when I read from my Daily Chronological Bible. I already knew what it would say. I’d been looking forward to that day’s reading for a month. In my Bible, October 20 is the day we get to read about the birth of Jesus. All month long I found myself flipping through the pages to see how much longer I had to wait. Why was I so anxious? Partly because the language and stories from the Gospels breathe fresh after the hard prophecies from the end of the Old Testament era; partly because I love the Christmas season, love the music, love the movies, love the friendliness and grace that mysteriously overtakes us all, and love the fact that we’re concerned more about what we should give rather what we hope to get; and partly because the cooler air and shorter days bring fresh energy to my daily reading. By October 20 I am more than ready.
So sitting at the couch near one of the few reading lamps in Bear Trap’s dining hall, reading, I stopped on this phrase. It was from what we call The Song of Mary, or The Magnificat:
My soul glorifies the Lord
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For He has been mindful of the humble
State of His servant
(Luke 1:46, NIV)
Being the heart-opening nature of the weekend, I was already a little emotionally soft, so I started to tear up as I read those words. I was at a men’s retreat so I didn’t really want to cry before breakfast and give the guys an opportunity to earn their counseling badges on me, but there it was. And as I read the words, what I heard in my heart was the phrase I remembered from long ago, as introduced to me by 14-year-old Adriana in about 1992, when she was singing the role of Mary in a church choir presentation. She sang:
My soul magnifies the Lord
I’ll be honest; this song always breaks me down, no matter who sings is. But that particular morning, the reason I stumbled over those lines was that I realized they described who I want to be.
For all my writing and teaching and talking about journey and calling and purpose and meaning, and if you are around me much you know I talk about those all the time, but the person I want to be, who I want my life and legacy to be, is a man to magnifies the Lord.
Not magnify, as in making the Lord bigger. That’s impossible.
But I want to magnify the Lord, making Him easier to see, making His grace more comfortable to accept, opening His comfort for healing, illustrating His huge strong hands that have a firm grip on me. I want my life and my writing and my teaching to be a continuous stream of, “Hey, take a look at this,” and point directly toward Jesus. I want to describe and reframe and illustrate and illuminate the grace of God through my own experience and my stories.
I will be singing the song in my head for the next week or so, so don’t be surprised if I look a little distant yet surprisingly happy.
It is almost Christmas. Let us all magnify the Lord as we give ourselves away to each other. I am more than ready.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32