the Father’s glory

‘Lord let your glory fall.’ The words of a song listened to this morning, words that compel us to look upwards to God – and ask for the incredible: glory to fall.

Glory to fall. What does this mean? What is glory, and what is God’s glory? What does it look like when it falls? How does it change or affect the place where it falls and touches?

When I was younger I tried to imagine the story of Acts 2:1-4. I did this quite often – I’d picture it and wonder. The disciples standing in the room, ordinary (and probably scared) people waiting and looking upwards for goodness knows what; the sound of the wind, the feel of it across their skin, in their hair, right down to the marrow of their souls; the glory-fire, light and pure and fierce, coming down on each of them but not hurting them, only transforming them, making them come more alive. Glory falling looked like this to me – like fire-light waking people to confidence and life that overflows and speaks truth.

I’d imagine what this would look like today, for God’s people now. I drew a picture of people standing in a room, and light flowing from God-the-Light onto them, making them joy-full and helping them to be confident and free. I imagined this for me, understanding that today God’s glory doesn’t necessarily fall in the same way but finding the visualisation of my drawing helpful; I knew that God’s glory, his transforming love and power, still comes to people today, somehow.

Fast forward ten or so years and I’m studying Galatians in Greek, for my course. A couple weeks ago my passage to translate for class was Galatians 4:6-7. I was awestruck – it’s beautiful and has stuck with me since. These are the English words (find the Greek ones here):

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.

There’s a wealth of context and a richness of detail here that you could spend years dwelling in – but for now I’ll write just a little of what I thought.

It’s an incredible image, vivid and vital. God the Father sends the Spirit of the Son into our hearts; it is His desire and delight to do this, and He makes us His own by His power. Even more – as he sends the Spirit, the Spirit ‘calls out’. In Greek this verb is κραζον, the form it’s in (present participle, for those who like grammar!) telling us that the crying or calling out of the Spirit happens continually, repeatedly – this is what the Spirit does in our hearts. He cries out to the Father, and glory falling looks like this.

It looks like the Spirit of the Son being sent by the Father into our hearts, crying out continually to testify to the fact that we are God’s children. The Spirit is the glory-fire of Acts 2; He’s the one who transforms us with love, opens our eyes, and gives us confidence as He shifts our gaze to Jesus.

This I think is what it means, at least in a little part, for glory to fall on us. It means that we are made God’s people by God, and are caught up in His love undeniably; always we are now His children because the Spirit cries out ‘Father’ from our hearts. The words of the song this morning thus come alive, compelling prayer: ‘Lord let your glory fall.’