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Tony's Reflection 22
Do you know anyone who has been to the Palace, to receive an honour from the Queen? An OBE or an MBE perhaps?
These honours aren't just for the rich and famous. The Queen also honours ordinary people who have done extraordinary things. I know of at least two people in our churches who have been recognised in this way. I have seen the photos to prove it! After all, it's not just the medal that matters, or even the letters after your name, if you choose to use them. It's the wonder of the occasion and the experience of being honoured by the Queen. I know of one person, who is normally very eloquent, who had practised what he was going to say when the Queen approached him, but found himself totally overawed and tongue-tied in her presence!
It's a once-in-a-lifetime, stand-out experience, when you are honoured by royalty. That's why what comes at the end of verse 15 is such a surprise. I wonder if you even noticed it, as you have been reading the Psalm:
"He will call upon me and I will answer him
I will be with him in trouble
I will deliver him
and honour him
." (Psalm 115:15)
This is a real surprise. We have seen what it is to "dwell in the secret place". We have discovered how we can call upon God. How we can know for sure that he will answer us, be with us and deliver us. But there is even more to come. After he has delivered us, God promises he will "honour us".
That is not what we expect to read. We might have thought that after God has done all these good things, we would be the ones honouring him. We would be giving thanks to him and saying how wonderful he is. It's certainly good for us to do that, but what we are promised in the psalm is exactly the opposite. It doesn't talk about us honouring God. The promise is that he will honour us.
In the pictures I have seen of the Queen bestowing her honours, she looks genuinely delighted with the person who is receiving the medal or title.
Could God find anything in you or me, which he would delight in, as he rescues us? It might look as if our only contribution has been to get ourselves into trouble! If we look closer, though, we will see that we have done something really precious. Something God will take delight in, to honour and recognise.
You have got yourself into trouble. It might have been your fault, or maybe not. It doesn't matter. Trouble has come.
You have "run into your secret place" and called out to God.
To you, it might have felt like an act of desperation. There was nowhere else to go.
Maybe you know God really well. Running to him and calling out to him comes naturally to you. It comes so naturally for you, that it is routine.
Whether you came out of desperation or routine, you still did something which God finds precious and wants to honour.
You turned to him. You trusted him.
There were 1,001 other responses you could have made. You could have taken a deep breath and tried to fix the situation yourself. You could have collapsed in a heap and decided your situation was helpless and hopeless; just let it all wash over you and wait for it to pass.
You didn't, though. You reached out to God. You made a choice for God. This God is invisible. You have never seen him. Yet you still believed he could and would help you.
That's what the Bible calls "faith".
When you choose to trust him, rather than relying on your own strength or just falling into despair, God is absolutely delighted. If you could see his face, he would be beaming at you.
Your faith is really precious, to God. It is an act of love from you, to him. It says to God, "I choose you for my help, because you are reliable and kind."
It moves God very deeply when he sees such simple trust in him.
When the Queen gives an honour, there is an impressive ceremony, in the ballroom at Buckingham Palace. You can imagine the awed hush as she enters. The heart stopping moment when she looks you in the eye and gives you her personal congratulations. The sense of achievement and her delight in you, as she fixes the medal on your chest.
Does God have an award ceremony?
Yes, he does. And it will be even better than one at Buckingham Palace …
When we pass from this life, we shall all appear before him. Those who have trusted him to rescue and deliver them will be honoured. God won't just be giving you a medal, though. He will give you a crown. A beautiful, resplendent crown.
He will look you in the eye and say, "Well done, you trusted me. You knew I was faithful and true, even when your circumstances told you otherwise. You turned to me, when times were hard."
The faith that you put in God today and tomorrow is precious. It is even more precious than gold. You can't take gold with you into eternity. Your faith will go with you into the next life.
Your faith and the crown that it brings to your head will shine, for ever.