When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun.
By: John Newton, 1725-1807
Listen as you read. This version features Ayako Ishikawa on violin.
I still remember singing this for the first time. As the notes began to ring out from the piano and I stood there about to be baptized, I belted out this new song I had learned in the three weeks since I had first surrendered to grace. It was very encouraging to have only begun to wrap my mind around the fact that I now had peace with God which would last for eternity, peace which I declared with confidence as I modulated for those last two lines.
I had only just begun to sing God’s praise, but I had quickly found that there was no feeling like it. I have spent the last twenty-two years enjoying and reliving that experience again and again, and helping others to do the same. Even with that little perspective it is overwhelming to think of how much praising still lies before me. Thank You Jesus!
Over the years I have often said that it is unfortunate how little time we spend thinking about the place where we will spend so long. I like imagining what it will be like to sing God’s praise in His very presence, before the throne. I like thinking about how different that will be, partly because of how different I/we will be.
The words say, “Bright shining as the sun”. Every other line acknowledges we, you and I, all the saints who will enjoy Heaven because they have found their rest in God’s amazing grace. This line reveals a bit about our appearance, and in so doing it eludes to other things.
You and I will shine brightly, as the sun. On my best days on this side of glory, I am nothing nearly as bright as that. My very appearance will have been radically transformed. Whether it happened to prepare me to be in God’s presence or is the by-product of being there makes no difference to me. I will not be the same.
If this is true, and I absolutely believe it is (2 Corinthians 3:18), then there are implications at every level of our existence. If I thought I could sing now, imagine what we will sound like then. Voice strong and free, a tongue only, ever used to praise God, and a lung capacity that is unfathomable. Not to mention every other part of me lending itself to amplifying His praise.
So how does that coming reality effect my current one? How can I tune my life to that perfect pitch? Well, realizing that I have been made and am being remade for thousands of years of giving God praise should encourage me to begin practicing now. I should use my voice these days in a way that is consistent with how I will use it those days, and that is not limited to singing praise, although I believe it absolutely should include it. Take some time to ask God to help you tune your voice…and the rest of you, to sing His praise.
Jesus, thank You fro calling out of darkness and into Your glorious light so I can praise You. I know that I have even now only just begun, and I pray you will help me to grow in my ability to do so in these days, even as I long for those yet to come. Help me to always use my voice in a way that brings You glory, whether I am singing to not. In Jesus name. Amen.
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