You’ll find it there sitting in a corner of Hoss’s parking lot on most days in August. I speak of an old maroon pickup truck with wooden side boards and a green shaded canopy over the bed—a bed piled high with fresh, recently picked sweet corn. Occasionally, “Silver Queen” is the offering of the day, but I prefer the “Butter-N-Sugar”. A little wooden sign on or near the truck read’s “Himmel’s”, and I must say that I find it to be the standard by which all sweet corn is measured. In fact, after writing this I may need to stop and buy a dozen on my way home from the office.
What makes Himmel’s corn so special? Its delicious flavor! When we eat other corn on the cob we can’t help but compare it to Himmel’s and rarely does it measure up. But that, of course, is our own family opinion and, in all honesty, what we think matters very little in the grand scheme of the universe.
When we speak of glory, we find one standard that rises above all others—the glory of God. There is something so mystically amazing about God that even those who don’t believe in Him want to be like Him. His majesty intoxicates us, His power makes us tremble, His love leaves us filled with an almost confusing sense of warmth. How can He be so high and mighty and powerful, and yet so lovingly embrace our human frailty and waywardness?
Adam and Eve walked with God in the Garden, naked and yet unashamed. Fear of vulnerability was not something that even entered their minds. And yet, after eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, they immediately found themselves naked, ashamed and very much afraid. What had changed?
While in covenant relationship with God, they had been clothed in His glory. It is like our moon being clothed in the glory of the sun. But its beauty fades when the sun’s direct rays no longer fall on the moon’s surface. In the same way, the human quest for independence has left us with a painful glory deficiency. Almost instinctively, our souls know the taste of glory, longing to return to the majesty that once was. But separation from our Creator means only darkness, serving only to intensify our craving for signficance.
We see the quest for glory no matter where we turn. From the ditch digger boasting about his thick callouses, to the bank executive relishing her position of power and influence, to the athlete sacrificing his body for the sake of a championship ring, human life is all about the pursuit of glory. When the quest for glory fails, doom and depression take root. But even when we think it succeeds, the effect is only short-term. Soon the glory fades and we find ourselves grasping for more. Like a junkie driven in mindless obedience to his drug cravings, we’re addicted to our glory fix, often without realizing its captivating influence. We will get our glory one way or another lest we die in shame.
The problem, however, lies not in our perceived failure or success. Because, you see, no measure of human glory can ever begin to attain to the glory which emanates from God. How many of us approach perfection? How many have limitless power? How many possess never-ending beauty? How many serve the world with love so pure?
The glory of God is indeed our goal, but we fail so miserably in this quest that we’ve taken to comparing ourselves to one another. Those who run faster and jump higher and think harder and look better are the ones lauded for their greatness. But the comparisons are all in vain. In fact, they are deadly.
The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 3:23 that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” I don’t see this statement referring to two separate concepts, but rather only one. In other words, I believe Paul was saying, “all who seek to attain to the glory of God completely miss the mark, falling woefully short of His perfect majesty.” This is where sin finds its root—in the prideful attitude of the heart seeking to be like God apart from God. But unlike our friendly banter about which sweet corn tastes the best, the standard of God’s glory is entirely unattainable. Unfortunately, that doesn’t keep most from continuing to try.
The true freedom of the Christian faith lies in giving up this exhausting quest. By admitting that the full extent of our own glory amounts only to darkness, we position ourselves through the cross of Christ to be restored to a right relationship with Him. Drawing near to Him in love and faith, His glory clothes the dark, naked soul. And once again, like in the beginning of time, life is ever so sweet.