I have to confess that I grumbled as we rumbled along behind him. For as if the roads weren’t bad enough on the island—to say nothing of the crazy drivers sometimes barreling right towards you at dizzying speeds—when we got behind a large dump truck going up a steep hill it was difficult indeed to even stay in the right gear. And then I saw the hand-painted sign on the back of that old truck that turned my impatience into praise. For it said simply,
“GOD IS GOD. RESPECT DUE.”
And when all is said and done, that’s a good reminder, whether on a mission trip or just on an outing to the grocery store. For amidst all of the inconveniences of the present time, the truth is that whatever our circumstances, God hasn’t changed at all. His nature, His character, and most of all, His amazing love for you and me is exactly the same. And because it is, He is worthy of all the respect that we can give Him, no matter what else may be happening in our lives.
St. Paul put it this way long ago when he wrote to his friends in Philippi:
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”
And that secret is simply to remember that we’re not only not in charge, but we never were. For there is only One who created the heavens and earth and to whom this earth still answers. What’s more, whether we know it or not, He is the same One to whom each of us must one day answer as well.
In the meantime, God deserves more than our half-hearted worship or passing praise: He deserves our respect. The dictionary, of course, defines that as a “feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” But it was Aretha Franklin who said it half a century ago in a way that still resonates today. Walk into any room, in fact, and sing “R-E-S-P-E-C-T” and I bet you that someone will respond with “Find out what it means to me!”
Perhaps as the virus wears on—and the summer heat comes on—we can lower the temperatures all around us, no matter where we may be rumbling along. For when we remember just who God really is, I have a feeling we’ll find out as well to whom all of our respect–and love– is actually due.