In Awe! pt-5

Methods Over Majesty


For several weeks we have been looking at awe and the effect it has on our lives.   All of us have a capacity for awe.  We were created with it.  The problem is we often get it misdirected from where it was intended to go.  Often the place we direct our sense of awe to is ourselves.  We become the center of our universe and we seek to control our lives and determine our own destiny.  It is what all of us who belong to the human race face every day.  It is what got Adam and Eve in trouble in the beginning and it continues to get us into trouble ever since.  The temptation of Eve in the beginning was not to eat the forbidden fruit, but the effect that act would have.  The tempation was that we could be like God.  “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God..” Genesis 3:5a.  It was the same temptation that got Satan cast out of heaven.  “I will climb to the highest heavens and be like the Most High.’” Isaiah 14:14.  We tend to desire for ourselves what is God’s alone.

One of the ways that this is shown in our lives is the way we approach God and the way we live our lives.  What we tend to do is relate to God not as He is but through the methods we have learned to connect with Him.  As a result the methods become more important than encountering God.  As a result our sense of awe turns inward. In 1 Samuel 4 is a story which illustrates this well.  The children of Israel are up against an old enemy which has been attaching them for many years.  The Philistines have brought out their armies once again to fight against Israel and the two armies have lined up ready for battle.  And the first battle Israel loses badly.  4000 men die.  And Israel, who believed God was with them began to ask what was wrong because they lost.  They did what you and I often do.  But where they went wrong in the story is no one went to ask God what went wrong.  And in the land of Israel at this time was a famous prophet who was known for hearing God speak and delivering direction from God.   Direction that was proved correct many times.

Israel instead of inquiring of God relied on what they had done in the past.  God had told them in many past battles to have the ark of the covenant lead the way into battle.  “After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it[a] will save us from our enemies.” 1 Samuel 4:3

Notice the verse.  Israel thought the ark would save them.  They didn’t look to God at all, just the method they had.  It was a method that God had started and had used many times before.  The problem wasn’t that they sent the ark out but that they trusted in the method without seeking the one who created the method.   As a result they ended up losing even more men when they went into battle and they lost the ark as well.  The Philistines captured the ark and took it home with them.  The very place where God chose to place His manifest presence was no longer with God’s chosen people.

We as Christians often get ourselves in trouble for the same things.  We develop methods, which in themselves are not bad, but they take the place of a life-giving, in-depth, living relationship with the one who created everything.   The one who was supposed to capture our attention and our awe.

If you continue to read the story we find that God was still involved.  The ark was placed at the feet of the most powerful god the Philistines had and in the morning their god  was on his face before the ark.  They set him back up and the next morning he was on his face again broken in pieces.  The Philistines we beginning to see that their god was not the Almighty God.  God still honoured His covenant with Israel and the ark was returned.

When we focus on the methods, like reading our bible or praying, or attending a church, which are all good, instead of connecting and being in awe of the one who started the methods we end up missing out of what God wants to do and going in a different direction.  And like Israel God will still be involved, not to bless what we are doing, but to call us back to a renewed personal daily relationship where we can connect with Him.


In Awe! pt – 4

Through Coloured Glasses – pt. 2

Awe is a part of all of us and it directs and moves us in ways that we often do not see. All the beauty around us was meant to draw us towards the one who created all things and allow us to see many of His divine qualities. Many centuries ago the king David wrote “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.” Psalms 19:1 NLV.

What often happens though is we begin to see God not through what He has made and put on display for us to know Him more, but through what is happening in our natural world. We see Him through the mistakes people make and the problems that we face. We tend to lose sight of His nature and character and instead define Him by what we understand of our world and our circumstances. This is something we see in the life of Job in the bible and most of the other people we read about in scripture. It is a trait that is common to all of us as humans. Like us, and many other people in scripture Job began to see God through his circumstances, and began to complain against God. Job was a man who did his best to do everything right. He followed all of God’s commands and worked hard to make sure that he made ammends for everything he may have done wrong, but also for everything his family may have done wrong as well. In fact God even noticed and spoke of Job as being “the finest man in all the earth who is blameless and a man of complete integrity.”

And even though Job was right before God his life fell apart. His children died in a freak accident. His livestock was stolen and servants killed by bandits. His home was destroyed. In a single day Job went from being one of the wealthiest men to having nothing at all. And as if that wasn’t the worst he became sick and was covered in sores. Job was having a very bad day. And for awhile he held true to his belief about God. Even when his friends came to criticize and correct him, and his wife told him to curse God and die, he held his ground and his circumstance was simply what he was living through. After several days of this his story began to change and he began to see God differently. And he began to see God not as God was, but through his problems and circumstances. And he began to complain “What have I done to deserve this treatment.” Job 30:24 MSG. Job began to see himself as right and God as wrong. His attitude got so bad God actually came to speak to him personally and asks him “Where were you when I created the earth? Did you teach the birds to fly? Did you deternime the measurements and foundations of the earth?”

Job was a man who lost his sense of awe and began to see God differently. And through encountering God again his awe was restored. When God spoke to Job his response was ” I am speechless, in awe- words fail me.” Job came to realize how his view had changed and needed to be adjusted. And like Job the same had to happen in my life, and I came to see God not for who I thought he was through my circumstances, but simply for who He actually was. And that allowed me freedom despite my circumstances because God promised to be with us no matter what we went through. And He never changes.

A man who came to understand the nature and character of God regardless of what he went through was Abraham. Abraham was not a man who did everything perfectly and he definitely was not a man who always followed exactly what God said to do. He didn’t always live a blessed life and his life wasn’t without troubles. But through it all he walked with and came to know who God was and it guided him throughout his entire life. When God promised Abraham a son he was a young man. But Abraham never saw the fulfillment of that promise for many years. It wasn’t until he was 100 years old that God’s promise to him was realized. But that didn’t cause Abraham to waiver. He still believed in God’s nature and character. “And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises.” Romans 4:19-21 NLT.

We all have to look at our live and see what we are believing about God and if our understanding is being filtered through our circumstances and understanding or if we are actually seeing Him for who He is. Only when we see Him as He truly is can our awe for Him be what it is supposed to be, and only then can we truly follow Him as we should.

In Awe! – pt 3

Through Coloured Glasses

One dark, rainy night a salesman had a flat tire on a lonely road.  To his dismay he found he had no lug wrench to remove his tire.  In the distance he saw a farmhouse and he set out on foot thinking “Surely the farmer will have a lug wrench.”  But would he come to the door?  And if he did he will probably be furious at being woken up.  He’ll probably say “What is the big idea getting me out of bed in the middle of the night?”

The salesman began to get upset and thought “That farmer is a selfish clod for refusing to help me.”  Finally reaching the house and feeling frustrated and drenched the salesman reached out and banged on the door.  “Whose there?” came the gruff response from an upstairs window.  “You know good and well who it is” yelled the salesman, his face red with anger.  “And you can keep your old lug wrench, I wouldn’t borrow it if it was the last one in the country.”

It is an old parable but how much of our lives is governed by our perception of things.  The views we have, the beliefs we have formed, and the expectations we have which govern our view of the world, and life, and even the people around us.  Our families, culture, friends, and circumstances all work on us to form a view of just about everything around us, including ourselves.  No matter who we are, all of us have a set of glasses, or way of seeing things, that tint life just a little.  The unconscious beliefs we have cause us to see things a certain way, often without us realizing we are filtering life.  Our views  don’t have to be correct for them to feel deeply valid.  Even the things we get offended over are a result of our view of things.  Someone once said “Once you hate someone, everything they do is offensive.”

As we look at awe it is important to look at the way we see life and the filters we have in place.  Our sense of awe is able to be redirected any where we choose it to be as we looked at in my last post.  We choose not whether we have awe, as we are all created with a capacity for awe, we simply get to choose what that awe is directed at.  And that decision will direct our lives in dramatic ways because awe has a current.

The problem with our coloured glasses is we have learned to see God through them as well.  So instead of seeing the true reality of God as He is and for who He is we tend to filter Him through our culture and through our circumstances.  We look at what is happening in our lives, or in our world, and come up with an image of God that we can then choose to push away as unwanted, or try to follow what we think is God.  We have all seen and heard many news reports of the things people have done saying God told them to.  And we probably all know people who want nothing to do with God because of what they see around them.  This is interpreting God through our coloured glasses and we always get an incorrect image when we do.

There is a lot of things that contribute to this.  Maybe it was the prayers for a family member you felt went unanswered.  Maybe it is the circumstances in your life that leaves you feeling like God is punishing you for something, or as some Christians say, God is teaching me something.  All of these things start with a slanted view of God that allow our coloured view to remain, and what is currently happening proves and justifies our beliefs.  But just like the wise person who said earlier “Once you hate someone, everything they do is offensive.”

I experienced this in my own life.  I grew up in church and hated the rules and regulations.  I had an image of God that was angry, vengeful and uninterested in my life.  His only involvement was to quickly judge me for anything I did wrong and that didn’t measure up.  And as I grew up I began to hate God.  He didn’t respond when I prayed.  He didn’t answer me when I talked to Him.  And when I messed up I was sure to feel less than human.  And as I grew older I chose to have nothing to do with God at all.  For many, many years I walked my own path.  But that didn’t alter who God was.  Just because I believed something about Him didn’t make it true.

And many of the things you may be feeling about Him may be based in your interperpetation of God through your circumstance.  It is something we all do.  Who is God and are you willing to have your understanding change?  For us to truly have an awe for God requires us to see Him as He is, and not for who we have decided He is.  After many years of being angry with God I encountered Him for who He really is.  And came to know deeply and personally how much I am loved and how precious I am to Him.  But this can only happen when we are willing to let go of our perception and have our glasses removed to see things as they are, not for what we belief them to be.

Does awe of God’s goodness interpret life for you? Or do the hardships of life cause you to question His goodness?