For two mornings this week I have awakened to this verse going through my mind.
Psalm 90:17 (KJV)
“Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.
Establish Thou the work of our hands;
Establish Thou the work of our hands.
It’s a familiar verse that is quoted in the Midday prayer that we have often quoted through the years for the Deeper Journey retreats. I also have it in song form by the Northumbria Community in England. Actually, the song is what awakened me from my dreams both of those mornings.
I’ve often been struck by this verse in contemplating the meaning of it or what it has for me as I pay attention to God’s beckoning through it. Besides the enjoyment of appreciating beauty for it’s own sake, beauty has also been important to me as a container for peace. Nine years ago as we prepared to move, our home was in disarray as we packed. I intentionally lit a candle and set it on the kitchen counter as a reminder that the Holy Spirit, the light of Christ, was with us on this journey. It was an encounter with the beauty of Christ being “upon us.” This reminder brought peace along with the beauty as I continued to pack, therefore, “establishing the work of my hands!”
A couple of other translations describe “beauty” as the “favor of the Lord” (NIV) or the “approval of God.” (NLT). Having the favor of Christ on our lives is definitely something that we all may receive from His atoning work on the cross. I’m imagining that having “favor” or “approval” or “beauty” upon us from God is also going to look different for each of us because we are all created with different gifts, ways of being in the world, and perceiving the world. It seems, that part of His spiritual transformational work of beauty upon us is “to establish the work of our hands” in whatever way He has designed and allow it to be integrated with the desire He has given us in the first place for that kind of work.
Thanks be to God!