“Go ahead,” Sarah said.
She listened patiently as the student recited from memory Habakkuk 3:17-18. When the youngster reached verse 19, her words caught Sarah by surprise. “The souvenir Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of the deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”
Sarah swallowed her giggles and helped the little one pronounce the word ‘Sovereign’ correctly. We had a good laugh over the funny things kids say whilst eating dinner, but then I started thinking.
How often do we think of God as a souvenir to acquire and check off on our tourist to-do list in our travels through life?
• Got Jesus. Check.
• Got saved. Check.
• Got religion. Check.
• Go to church. Check.
• Changed some bad habits. Check
• Wear a cross around my neck so everyone knows. Check.
We collect the souvenir, and forget about the sovereign. Especially in today’s world where personal choice and independence reign supreme. We fight for our rights, our way, and to make our opinion known. We struggle to make sure that others understand us, respect us and don’t take advantage of us.
We expect God to go along with our plans (after all, we’re Christians and we try to keep our plans within biblical guidelines) in the same way we expect a souvenir to stay safely packed in our suitcase.
But the word ‘sovereign’ means ‘supreme ruler’. The word ‘souvenir’ means ‘a small, inexpensive memento purchased as a reminder of a place visited.’ God wants to exercise his authority as supreme ruler in our lives (but he acts by invitation only). (tweet this)
I went to my Bible to read the first part of the student’s memory verse. Habakkuk, an Old Testament prophet, lists all the things that have gone wrong in Israel. The fig trees don’t bud, the grapes don’t produce, the olive crop fails and the fields produce no crops. To make things worse, the people have no sheep or cattle. In other words—they face utter ruin and starvation.
They can’t run down to the Piggly Wiggly and purchase replacement staples when a bad season hits. A Costco of plenty doesn’t sit in the desert, waiting for them to drop by and stock up for the season. They have nothing. Nada. Zilch.
How does Habakkuk handle the eminent disaster? “Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God my Savior” (Habakkuk 3:18).
Insanity, right? Choosing joy and praising God when life as you know it has ceased and the next step forward seems impossible to take. (tweet this)
Habakkuk’s prophetic powers must have given him a vision of a rosy future, right?
No. Habakkuk can rejoice in the Lord because “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights. (Habakkuk 3:19).
Habakkuk can rejoice because he has a Sovereign Lord, not just a cheap souvenir Lord—a mere memory of an experience that he keeps on a shelf collecting dust. He knows that he is under the rule of a supreme being who knows more than he does—who knows the beginning from the end and loves us so much he gave his own son to die in our place.
I’ve had my own Habakkuk-like experience, and I know that I can rejoice in my Sovereign Lord no matter what. But I’d like to share a clip of someone who can illustrate exactly what it means to have a Sovereign Lord.
Singer and songwriter Chris Picco lost his wife and their son, Lennon, delivered at 24 weeks, struggled for life in the NICU. A friend recorded Chris singing “Blackbird” to his son in the hospital, and posted the video on You Tube. It immediately went viral.
A few days later, Lennon passed away. What happened at the memorial service for Chris’s wife and son is a powerful testimony to the relationship between a man and his Sovereign Lord. It’s a long video, so if you’re short on time, just skip ahead to minute 8.
Souvenir or Sovereign? Which kind of God are you willing to serve?