The past couple days I have been struggling to desire to be in God’s presence. In fact, I have felt a bit fearful about it. I sat down today and tried to figure out what it was that was making me so afraid. I began to realize how many scripts there are that I have been carrying about God, myself, and the purpose of life. It is interesting because you would never guess it by looking at my life and the things that I have done so far. However, the truth remains that if I am fearful to have the relationship my Creator intended for me to have with Him, then there is a big misconception that I have believed of who He is.
Deep inside of us is the desire and thirst for adventure, and I believe that this is the image of God manifested inside of our very nature. If we look throughout Scripture, it becomes clear that God is incredibly unpredictable and powerful. Just reading the book of Joshua, my imagination runs wild of what it would have been like to be racing forward on the horses in the midst of battle. Battles then were not ordinary; rather God was fighting with His people. Hail rained down from heaven and the sun stood still for a whole day. Israel was greatly outnumbered, but it didn’t matter because Almighty Creator of the Universe was fighting on their side. Wild as ever, God came rushing in like a mighty lion to save His people.
What an amazing adventure, right? Sometimes our lives seem incredibly unexciting, and I wonder why that is? Even after Jesus came, great revivals took place as the Gospel spread throughout the land. What about the stories of the saints? Fantastic and true tales of people who had real life encounters and relationships with God that so transformed their lives that they were willing to die horrific deaths rather than turn their backs on their Lord. These things don’t seem to come about too often anymore, and I find it hard sometimes to imagine myself being in that place. The Bible says that God is unchanging. So what has changed? I propose that it is us who have forgotten what it means to have a simple and childlike faith that remembers what it means to stand in awe of utter majesty and beauty. I propose that perhaps we have not begun to grasp the utter wildness of God, nor have we taken the time to connect our deepest desires and passions with the personality of our Creator. Will you journey with me for a bit to the edge of the jungle? Will you consider breaching the perimeter with me? Perhaps when we discover the great adventure it truly is knowing God and living life with Him, we won’t have to think twice or be fearful about leaping into every moment of our lives with Him. This, in fact, is exactly what we were made for.
You climb into the boat preparing to head downstream and your skin is crawling just thinking about all that you may encounter along the way. With a swift step, your guide climbs into the small canoe and pushes away from shore. The current sweeps the small vessel quickly away from the place of embarkment; there is no going back now. The wind sweeps through your hair as you take in all the sights and smells around you. The environment is hot and humid, but the breeze sweeps away any discomfort there could be from the wet air.
“Quick! To the left!” The guide almost screams in a whisper. As you quickly look over, you see through the rustling leaves a jaguar black as midnight running alongside you on the shore. There is no fear, but only awe at the sleek strides of her muscular body keeping up with the quick pace of the canoe. The river takes a turn into rougher waters and the cat falls behind to return to her den. As the rapids pick up intensity, your eyes catch a beauty that takes your breath away. Never before did you believe you could see for so many hundreds of miles of unexplored wilderness, covered in dense jungle and filled with creatures that scientists have yet to discover. Huge boulders pass by on your right and your left, but your guide is an expert river man. In fact, He created the waters you are tossed to and fro in. He created the jaguar in all her sleek beauty and strength. He knows every inch of those unexplored jungle lands. He puts mere scientists to shame. How small they are! You are swept through passages lined with massive cliffs. Monkeys swing through the trees and giant snakes slide smoothly through the water. Who has tamed the great anaconda? No one. She is wild.
What would it be like to run alongside the cheetah in all her speed or ride the back of an elephant as he storms through the African Serengeti with unchallenged force? Could we but spend a day with the lion as he hunts the gazelle, or the eagle as she soars high above the earth to cliffs undiscovered, we would catch just a glimpse of the majesty of God. If we could ride the waters off the edge of a massive waterfall and fall through the air just waiting to plunge deep into the pool below; if we could chase the sun as it journeys below the horizon or fly into the edge of night only to land amongst the stars; maybe then we might start to understand a tiny piece that is the person of God. What if we could grab hold of the muscular fin of the great blue whale? What if we could ride to the depths of the ocean where no man has ever been and hear the songs sung by sea life beyond the tones the ears can register? Would we then have a grasp on the vastness of God? No, not even a finger.
“Shout that people are like the grass.
Their beauty fades as quickly
as the flowers in a field.
The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of The Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever…
Who else has held the oceans in his hand?
Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers?
Who else knows the weight of the earth
or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale?
Who is able to advise the Spirit of The Lord?
Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him?
Has The Lord ever needed anyone’s advice?
Does he need instruction about what is good?
Did someone teach him what is right
or show him the path of justice?
No, for all the nations of the world
are but a drop in the bucket.
They are nothing more
than dust on the scales.
He picks up the whole earth
as though it were a grain of sand.
All the wood in Lebanon’s forests
and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough
to make a burnt offering worthy of our God.
The nations of the world are worth nothing to him.
In his eyes they count for less than nothing-
mere emptiness and froth.
To whom can you compare God?
What image can you find to resemble him?
Can he be compared to an idol formed in a mold,
overlaid with gold, and decorated with silver chains?
Or if people are too poor for that,
they might at least choose wood that won’t decay
and a skilled craftsman
to carve an image that won’t fall down!
Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand?
Are you deaf to the words of God-
the words he gave before the world began?
Are you so ignorant?
God sits above the circle of the earth.
The people below seem like grasshoppers to him!
He spreads out the heavens like a curtain
and makes his tent from them.
He judges the great people of the world
and brings them all to nothing.
They hardly get started, barely taking root,
when he blows on them and they wither.
The wind carries them off like chaff.
‘To who, will you compare me?
Who is my equal?’ asks the Holy One.
Look into the heavens.
Who created all the stars?
He brings them out like an army, one after another,
calling each by its name.
Because of his great power and
Not a single one is missing.
O Jacob, how can you say The Lord does not see your troubles?
O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights?
Have you never heard?
Have you never understood?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
The Creator of all the earth.
He never grows weak or weary.
No one can measure the depths of his understanding.
He gives power to the weak
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in The Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.”
-Isaiah 406b-8, 12-31
I think that I have a tendency to attempt to tame God into a safe version that I can live with and wrap my mind around. I like to have an answer for every thing that He does and a level of understanding that I might consider mature. That is all good and fine until I get in the boat and feel the current sweep me away from shore. It is then that I find there is much more to God than I could begin to know or explain. My little brain can only take in pieces of what my senses long to tell me. Whether I plunge into the ocean depths or I am catapulted into a limitless unknown filled with God’s heavenly bodies burning for Him, I only see in part; I only know in part.
And what if I were to try to understand the depths of His love? Even if I were to leap off the tallest waterfall and plunge deeply into the pool below, I could not grab hold of even the smallest understanding of His great passion for me. I could only rise to the surface and tread the waters of His grand desire. But even yet, sometimes I stand along shore just staring at the boat. My guide is standing next to me trying to describe what the journey is like, but all in all he beckons, “You have to experience it to understand. Come with me!”
I want to ride the current of His greatness. I want to marvel at the jaguar. I want to leap off the waterfall and feel the rush of the water all around me. I want to run with the cheetah and ride the elephant. I want to chase the sunset and be tossed through the air only to land among the stars. What great things could this adventure hold? 2 Corinthians 2:9b says: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” Why would I ever want to miss out on something so incredible, for this is truly what my heart was made to desire. Why would I stay standing by the boat? Lest I ever forget how amazing God’s love is for me, I need only to remember my Lord’s nail pierced hands and the cross on which He died. My love, how could I ever forget?
Our God is wild. He created wild things. He has placed restlessness and desire within our hearts. It makes no sense to think of Him as taming this wild horse; He created her to run fast across the plains and through the mountain valleys. And He runs alongside her as she feels the wind rushing through her hair. What glorious liberty will she find in the wilderness? Only her Creator knows. And He beckons her to come…come…