of most earthly good

by Elizabeth de Barros


A common prayer. Sincere, no doubt. But when the words tumbled from my lips the other morning, they rang hollow. Took a while before it registered.

Mine overhead was a brass heaven.

Such is the trouble of being heavenly minded, wanting to be of some earthly good. Make a difference. Stir up love and good deeds. Do something. 

Ought, should, and must get in the way.

Thus, the disconnect.


There are times God makes plain His intention by first getting our attention. He might set up a roadblock or send a raven, but the inherent message is clear, if not peculiar. That day, my leaden prayer was an abrupt but not unwelcome reminder that God doesn’t need me.

He is sufficient unto Himself.

To distill my existence to mere function is reductionism at its most subtle. God didn’t make me for that — at least not primarily. Whether I’m cleaning closets, studying theology, or bringing chicken soup to a febrile neighbor, it does not — cannot — hold greater value than my singular worship of Him, my raison detre. Otherwise, I become a spiritual reductionist, lost in the religion of my own usefulness. He must be the center and circumference of all I am, can, ought, and will to do.  

The lesson:

I’ve been made in His image for His glory. I’ve been redeemed that I might reflect His glory. Though I seek to honor, follow, obey, and delight in Him, I merit nothing; but inherit all things. I live in hope of seeing the radiance of the fullness of His glory to be revealed in the face of Christ on that Day.

This is where worship springs from — up from the depths of the belly of the fountains in Mount Zion, where Christ, my highest good, sits enthroned on the praises of His people. Worship, pure and true — where every ought, should, and must is either ratified or denied in the droplets of the fountain of life.

Deciphering the line between religion (what I do) and worship (Who He is) is difficult sometimes. Cause and effect are relational. But the fountain makes it clear, where “I do” becomes “I do this because” and being heavenly minded is of most earthly good.

Psalm 87

Of the Sons of Korah. A psalm. A song.


He has set his foundation on the holy mountain;

the Lord loves the gates of Zion

more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

Glorious things are said of you,

O city of God:    


“I will record Rahab and Babylon

among those who acknowledge me—

Philistia too, and Tyre, along with Cush—

and will say, ‘This one was born in Zion.’”

Indeed, of Zion it will be said,

“This one and that one were born in her,

and the Most High himself will establish her.”

The Lord will write in the register of the peoples:

“This one was born in Zion.”     


As they make music they will sing,

“All my fountains are in you.”

(NIV 1984)