Sometimes I wonder how we can shrink down our God to make Him more manageable for our little minds…
Not that it’s a conscious decision. It seems to happen gradually over time. Almost as if we cannot comprehend the reality of a God that can breathe the universe into existence while loving and watching you and I as if we were the only ones. And because we cannot comprehend it, we find ourselves shaving off a little of His power, while simultaneously doubting the intimacy of His love... at least, in our own minds.
My little mind can only barely comprehend the vastness of this place we call home… never mind the fact that the sun is a million times bigger… or that 9.2 billion suns could fit inside Canis Majoris, the big dog star…that traveling on the space shuttle it would take 30 years to reach the edge of the solar system… that the solar system itself is the size of a quarter compared to the milky way, which would be the size of north and south america (plus alaska)… And as if that isn’t enough, that there are 300 billion stars in the Milky Way alone, and that there are an estimated 500 billion galaxies… That just blows my mind. I feel helpless to really grasp what it means.
And it was my God who made all that?
The God who watches my sleep each night counting the minutes till I’ll be up to spend time with Him… the One who is never too busy to hear the littlest thing on my heart at that moment… the One who wants me to be radically honest with Him about my doubts and fears even though they are pathetic compared to the pain He sees in the world each day… the One who longs to spend hours with me just talking when He has a million other things to do…
Yeah, that God.
And I can’t grasp it.
And so though I may sit in awe for a few moments, my humanity shrinks Him down to my size so that I can begin to understand Him.
But I’m realizing… shrinking God down causes major trouble.
Because really… when I shrink Him down, I shrink down my capability for love and worship. I mean, how can I stand in awe of something I’ve made my own size?
We're not the first ones to have this problem after all. Back in Moses day the Israelites did the same thing. They took their pieces of wood and covered them with gold and made their own gods. And yes, they were more manageable...
But whoever said we were to be the ones to make God manageable? Isn't He supposed to manage us?
The other day I found myself trudging down our road trying to recognize the presence of God in the business of my life... trying to trust Him with everything... Sun shines bright in my eyes as I walk, as if hinting to me of the size of my God, but I miss the memo.
And then it hits me while I sit in church the next day... God is so big, so big, that His presence fills the earth. It's not a matter of whether or not He is near, but whether or not I see Him.
And I realize that I've been shrinking God down... and it's no question why I begin to doubt. Because He is not the God I've made Him out to be.
He is greater. More powerful. More trustworthy. More loving. More intimate.
And if I am not standing in awe of Him right now, it's because I have shrunk Him down to my own size and created a God of wood and gold that I can manage instead of standing in awe of who He is and letting that melt me.
When God seems powerless and I feel like I need something more... it's not because He's loosing power... it's that I've robbed Him of it in my own life by lack of belief-- by shrinking Him down. God is always enough... the fault is not His.
Perhaps that's why the Christians in Bible and Reformation times saw such a manifestation of His power and closeness. Because they believed in it.
And maybe when we believe in a God who is so powerful and loving that He can shake the world... Maybe, just maybe, that's when He will.
*Photo credits-- Hannah Rayne
44 years ago today...
Thousands of eyes watched the clock as the seconds counted down.
5, 4, 3, 2, 1...
A deafening roar shook the ground while a brilliant light illuminated the launchpad. All heads had turned upward to watch the fireball vanish into a mere speck, and then disappear from sight altogether.
And that vanishing speck? The Apollo 13-- headed for the backside of the moon, where no man had been before.
Only sixty years before, we still had no idea how to fly. The Wright brothers were looking admiringly at the birds, and longing to know their secret.
Now, a mere six decades later, we had been to the moon twice, and were launching this mission which was far more complex than any before it.
Somehow, back then, we were not content with one accomplishment, but were constantly aiming higher-- going deeper.
NASA had been spurred on a few years before by the inspiring challenge of President Kennedy...
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard... because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...
We were determined-- and to that end we bent our earnest efforts day and night. And true to our pledge, before the decade was over, we had landed a man on the moon.
Now we were in reach of another goal... to land two men in the mountains on the backside of the moon and bring them home alive.
Actually, Apollo 13 did not quite go as planned. An explosion onboard the ship destroyed 2/3 of their oxygen, which majorly depreciated the power supply. The moon was no longer the goal, but the saving of the three men stranded in space.
Mission control now had a challenge greater than any Kennedy had given to them. The crew which was currently 200,000 miles from earth must be brought home with only 1/3 of their oxygen and next to no power to run the ship...This was to be the most technically difficult feat NASA had ever attempted.
But the crew on the ground determined that failure was not an option. The men would be saved-- even if they had to use every last ounce of their strength for it.
After four days of extremely intense work for the ground crew and the men in space, Apollo 13 and crew splashed down safely in the Pacific Ocean.
NASA had completed their greatest feat of all time.
And how did we go from the nation who had no clue how to fly, to the first to land men on the moon and bring them home safely after a terrible explosion in space?
We accepted a challenge to do hard things. We threw our heart and soul into the work. We labored night and day. We persevered. After each new victory or failure, we set higher goals and fought for them. We were willing to sacrifice, take risks-- to give our lives if necessary.
And something about NASA's thrilling escapades shakes me out of my "44 years ago today" reverie, and brings me back to the here and now.
We too have been given a challenge. Sure, we've not been called to go to other worlds, but instead to change this one that we call home. True, we've never had to bring three men home who were stranded 200,000 miles away, but we have been called to point lost souls to their eternal home. Yes, there is no need for hours spent in mission control, but oh, the desperate need for hours of time spent in the closet of prayer.
Somehow we look at our challenge as less glamorous. After all, our fathers had the same challenge, and our grandfathers, and our great-grandfathers...
And so we search for something better-- while the world dies for a revelation of Jesus.
Perhaps God is just waiting for a generation to pick up the baton and carry it to the end of the race. And perhaps we could be that generation...
Sure, a look in the mirror tells us that we are not good enough, old enough, experienced enough etc... Believe it or not, most of the men in mission control for the first missions were quite young-- and inexperienced.
And a look into mine own heart tells me that maybe it's not that we're too young or inexperienced. Maybe it's that our dedication does not go deep enough, our ambition high enough, or our trust strong enough.
Are we willing to throw our heart and soul into His work? To labor night and day? To persevere? To set new and higher goals after each victory or failure? To sacrifice? To give our lives if necessary?
He never said it would be easy... but that's okay because we accept His plans...
...not because they are easy, but because they are hard... because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win...
I'm longing for something deeper. And I'm determined to spend hours in my closet of prayer until I find it.
I believe this generation can be the one to accept His challenge and change the world.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,
baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you;
and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
MEN WANTED: FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY, SMALL WAGES, BITTER COLD, LONG MONTHS OF COMPLETE DARKNESS, CONSTANT DANGER, SAFE RETURN DOUBTFUL. HONOR AND RECOGNITION IN CASE OF SUCCESS.
-Sir Ernest Shackleton-
Quite a proposal. What would inspire a person to sign on to such a trip? What motive could possibly make a man want to leave his home and family for that? What if he did never come home? Could it be worth it?
Love does away with fear. In this case love of adventure...
Another quote comes to mind... this one from a famous astronaut.
"If we die, we want people to accept it. We are in a risky business, and we hope that if anything happens to us, it will not delay the program. The conquest of space is worth the risk of life." Virgil (Gus) Grissom
And later he and two friends did give their lives. While testing the Apollo 1, a fire broke out in the capsule and all three men died.
Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chafee before the fire.
What could have motivated them to be willing to make the ultimate sacrifice?
Yet again we find love. In this case, not only love of adventure but love for conquest.
And it makes me think... What would motivate us to endure long months of complete darkness? What would give us the courage to live a life of constant danger? What would we deem a worthy cause for which to expend our life?
And the same answer strikes again. Love. This time capitalized.
Because that add was not just something written to inspire men to join an adventure to the South Pole. Someone much greater asks for similar courage.
And if hundreds of men could apply for that because of their love of adventure, shouldn't hundreds of Christians be willing to face the same for love of their Master?
If three men were willing to give their lives for the conquest of space, shouldn't we be willing to give our lives for the conquest of something much greater?
Shouldn't we be willing to face hardship this year?
Sometimes God uses hardship as the very means of our growth. And I say that with more confidence than ever before...
Dec. 31 2012
Lord, I want a year of growth-- if that means a hard year-- let it be a hard year. Take me out of my comfort zone. Send me trials. All I want is the year of greatest growth in you that I've ever had. That will make it my best year so far.
Little did I know what I was asking for...
After various trials and several months of fighting an unknown illness, and then being diagnosed with Lyme disease in August, I have a little more idea.The seven months of sickness and pain have been God's answer to my prayer in the above journal entry. And yet I wouldn't have that prayer unsaid, or those seven months "unlived" for anything. I can truly say that hardship was my greatest blessing.
Fast forward to another journal entry a year later...
Dec 31, 2013
...Though I now know more than ever before the heart definition of pain, I know also the heart definition of upholding Love. I may have known personally what it is like to be utterly weak, but I have also known the amazing power of sustaining grace. I might have known disappointments and confusion but it was only so that I might now truly know trust. I may have experienced darkness, but it was only so that I could now appreciate more the one true Light.
I now see my greatest struggles as my greatest blessings. Hardship is not our enemy. It is a gift the Master allows that we may be strengthened to fight our real enemy.
This year, I'm excited to see what new things He has in store. I know my Jesus doeth all things well. I praise Him that the last few weeks have marked improvements in my health, and the beginning of a slow, but sure, recovery.
And for the record, Lord, I am willing to endure hardship for You this year. I deem You worthy of risking my life.
After all, didn't You deem me worthy of risking Yours?
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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