“But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.” (Acts 7:55–56, AV)
The vision of glory propels athletes to sacrifice and train hard. I watched highlights of the recent Olympic games on the internet. I have heard the stories of the athletes who competed. Many of them had a vision of standing in the awards ceremony and receiving their Olympic medals. This vision was a vision of glory. However, in most of them, the vision was for glorification of self or for the glory of their country, or a combination of the two. There was one runner, however, who caught my attention.
Sydney McLaughlin ran the women’s 400 meter hurdles. She set a world record time of 51.46 seconds. Following her accomplishment, she gave all glory to God. She made this statement following her victory.
“I no longer run for self recognition, but to reflect His perfect will that is already set in stone. I don’t deserve anything. But by grace, through faith, Jesus has given me everything. Records come and go. The glory of God is eternal. Thank you Father.”
Sydney had a vision of the awesome glory of God and this vision propelled her to sacrifice and train in her field as an athlete.
Stephen is about to become the first martyr for his faith in Christ. He has just confronted the Jewish religious leaders with the truth. They, being a stiff-necked group with hardened hearts and ears, would not harken to the words they heard. These men had studied the Scriptures intensely and attempted to legalistically adhere to the law for their justification. Yet, in this effort, much of their focus was on themselves for their own glory and not on the glory of God. Thus, Stephen’s message enraged this audience rather than enlightening them.
Stephen, on the other hand, had a different vision. Filled with the Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. It was this vision of heaven that carried him through this difficult ordeal of persecution and martyrdom with grace and peace. It was a vision of God’s glory that propelled Stephen in his Christian life. It propelled him to stand out and be selected as one of the first deacons in the church. It propelled him to be a bold witness for the glory of God. It sustained him in his severe trial which resulted in his martyrdom.
The question is this. Do we have such a vision of the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God? I admit, that often I can lose focus on God’s glory. When this happens, my priorities can get out of line with God’s. I know that I am not the only one. Every one of us who believe still struggle with the pressures of the flesh and are not always filled with the Spirit.
The remedy for this problem of losing vision of the glory of God is to spend more time with God. When we are away from someone long enough, our vision of them can become cloudy. We need to renew our focus by spending time with God in prayer, in His word, and meditation on who He is and what great things He has done. We should reflect on God the way Sydney McLaughlin did, who understood that she did not deserve anything, and that records come and go, but the glory of God is eternal. Take some time every day to reflect upon the eternal glory of God.