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 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?

In Awe! – pt 2

Directing The Current

Awe.  It is an incredible feeling that seems to take your breath away.  And there are a lot of things in ourawe world today, from the simplest of things, like taking that first bite of an amazing new flavour of ice cream, to some incredibly complex and beautiful sights that people from around the world flock to go see.

Awe, as we looked at in my last post, is something that is within all of us.  We were created with the capacity and the need to express awe.

Where we choose to express that awe is something that creates a current for the rest of our lives to follow.  It will direct our lives even if it is unseen and unnoticed.  You don’t have to see a current for there to be a powerful one just below the surface.  But it definitely has an immediate effect if you step into the current.  strong current sign.jpg

Awe is a directing and motivating force in our lives.  It can move us to excellence and greatness or as we have seen all to often it can move us to horrible acts of violence and everything in between.

“Where you look for awe will shape the direction of your life. It just makes sense that your source of awe will control you, your decisions, and the course your story takes.” David Tripp

Whatever has captured the awe of my heart will also set the agenda for the things that we desire, think, choose, say, and do. The moral life of every human being is driven and shaped by awe, either awe of God or awe of something in God’s creation.  What you choose to be in awe of is very important and only we can only decide for ourselves where that awe will be placed.  Wherever we choose to place in will affect every other aspect of our lives