All of my gains now fade away
Every crown no longer on display
Here in Your Presence
I never knew that my wife was such a fan of the Olympics until this year. Maybe it was because our 8-year-old son has been taking (and excelling at) swimming lessons, and then there was all the hoopla with Michael Phelps (which, admittedly, was pretty cool!) And how about that opening ceremony, huh? Dazzling! I've never been one for watching Olympics coverage; to me it always seems like watching random sportscasts from every sport in existence. You just turn it on and hope to heaven that it's not, I don't know, Olympic paint peeling-watching or something. But it is inspiring to watch those people, some young adults and some not more than children (and a few who are not as young!) who have worked SO hard for years and years, finally get the medals they have worked for. Then they get up on their podium and get to wear the reward, the fruit of their labors, and listen to the anthem of their country. There are few times in this day and age, at least for the U.S., when patriotism takes center stage like it does during the Olympics.
Well, the whole thing ended Sunday, and on Sunday morning during our worship service we sang a song called "Here In Your Presence" (partial lyrics and a YouTube video of it are posted above). It's loosely based around Revelation 4, the passage where the elders all throw down their crowns and fall on their faces in the presence of the Almighty God. In the presence of the flag of the United States of America, we stand proud and show everyone our accomplishments. In the presence of the God of the Universe, everything we have ever accomplished, everything that has ever brought us commendations or rewards, means nothing to us because we can see how great and how worthy of praise God is.
God doesn't want to take away our rewards for doing good. Who do you think gave the elders the crowns? And if you look at the passage in Revelation, particularly verses 9 and 10, it certainly appears that the elders are throwing away their crowns multiple times, which means that they have retrieved them in between sessions. The crowns are, to all appearances, theirs to keep. But when you get in the presence of God, crowns don't mean anything. Money and possessions and power and accolades... they just don't really seem to matter too much. All that matters when you are in the presence of God is that you are with Him.