‘You’re the God of the gory’…
Yes, I typed that correctly! I was thinking about the song I’d written and how people thought I’d made a mistake in using the word ‘gory’.
Would you sing those words in a church service? Or is that a bit much to say about the Lord of heaven and earth?
David, the poet-king of Israel, wrote some very straight-talking psalms… and sang them! Did he say anything that wasn’t true about the Lord? For example, in Psalm 51, he calls God his laundryman! When David cries out in his distress, pleading with God to scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry (The Message Bible), he’s thinking of his crimes: lust, adultery and murder. Imagine God down there in the wash-house, doing the menial tasks? David knew he wouldn’t be able to get himself clean, but he wanted to be treated by the only one who would.
When we sing, we don’t always think about the lyrics. The word ‘glory’ is so pervasive when we praise God, anyone could be forgiven for thinking I’d made a blunder! But my song goes on to say, ‘You’re the God of the gory, the grime and the pain, where no other gods would go…’
How many other gods can we find to love us in the depths of despair, in murky places, even the gory ones? None. It’s true, he is the only God of the gory! His way of helping us was to get down there and dirty, so he could lift us up. As David said in Psalm 139: 7-12, God goes wherever we go!
After I’d written this song, a man asked me if it were truly my testimony. I replied, ‘I might have been brought up in the bosom of the church, and in a Christian family, but yes, God saw all my sins, and his version of them wasn’t pretty. He never excused them, or referred to them as weaknesses’. He knew I needed forgiveness and he sent Jesus to die for that cleansing peace he offered me, even as a young child. He gave me a new kind of life. Instead of muck and slime to live in, I could now sing to God, and mean it: ‘I share all your moments…God, in your mercy, you give me your glory! You’re my friend!’
Here’s the full text of the song.
You’re the God
You’re the God of the gory, the grime and the pain
where no other gods would go.
You went where I went,
You shared every moment,
my deep degradation,
the lost way I travelled.
You knew all the heartache.
For this I adore You, my friend.
For this I adore You, my faithful friend.
Now I share all your moments and follow your pathway.
O God, in Your mercy, You give me your glory.
You’re my friend.
You’re the God of the future, the past, and today,
the Lord of forever,
You’re building a Temple,
a place for Your presence to fill with Your glory.
You promised to give me a part in its beauty,
a role in Your purpose.
Lyn Thiele 2001
Maybe we’re used to all the nice-sounding words in the songs we sing to God. Perhaps it’s a bit too public to sing about a God who did the dirty work for his children: for us. But the amazing part is that he hasn’t been contaminated by his task. That’s because his holiness is more than amazing! And he’ll give us – every one of us – that same holiness and glory!