I went for a walk this morning, just through our neighborhood. It was amazing. There were thousands and thousands of helicopters everywhere. It was like helicopters were growing on trees. Who could design that? A tree that manufactures helicopters?
I’ve never really liked the story from the Bible about the two guys on the road to Emmaus. (Luke 24) Something about it just didn’t seem right. These guys were disciples, Jesus comes along and walks with them, and they don’t even recognize him. It makes them sound clueless. Dumb. Like not sincere followers. If you read the story carefully though, you will notice it really wasn’t their fault. The Bible says that their eyes were kept from recognizing him. So was Jesus playing a joke on them? That doesn’t sound right either. These are the reasons I never liked this story, until this morning.
This morning, it was different. As I read through the story again, I gained a new perspective on the blessing Jesus shared with these guys. He wasn’t playing a joke on them. He was blessing them. They were kept from seeing him as Jesus. But why?
Imagine two walks, the one they had, and the one they would have had if they had recognized Jesus from the start. If they had recognized Jesus when they met him on the road, they would have been in awe. They would have worshipped him. They would have feared his power and praised his greatness. It would have been wonderful for sure, but it would not have been at all like the walk they had. What if Jesus wanted something different?
Imagine the walk they had. Three guys met on the road and walked along together talking about their experiences. The new guy taught them about the scripture in a new way. They listened, they discussed, they questioned and contemplated together. No one felt on edge, on their guard, off balance or unworthy. They were just three guys walking and talking together as friends, discussing the recent events and the history of their faith. Perhaps that is exactly what Jesus wanted.
After all the events he had just been through, a quiet walk and talk without all the hype was the way Jesus chose to relate those events to his disciples. He was Lord and Master choosing to relate to them as equals. As friends. And because he kept their eyes from seeing him in all his lordly glory, they experienced him as friend and confidant.
I wonder, could it be this very story that provides a hint as to why God doesn’t make himself more visible? Why does God not powerfully show himself to the world and prove he exists? Maybe, possibly, could it be that the unapproachable blinding holy light of his glory would keep us from seeing the close companionship of a loving friend and father?
I remember when I was young and my kids were younger, we would play together, performing some fun thing, swinging them around in circles, tickling, somersaulting… After every flip, the kids would say, “Do it again.” I would always get tired of it before the kids. Sooner or later I would say, “No more. This is the last one.” I enjoy blessing, giving of myself and making my kids happy, but doing the same thing over and over gets old and tiring. There is a limit to how much and how long I can do it.
This past Sunday, as the start time for the second worship service at our church was approaching, I thought about this. I was playing bass and managing the tracks this Sunday. I had prayed for God’s help and blessing for the first service. We needed God’s power to help us lead the worship in such a way that goes beyond just our natural, fallible talents. and of course He answered the prayer. Now it was almost time for the second service and I found myself humbly asking Him if He would “Do it again.” I felt a little guilty for always asking for help for the same things. I wondered, “Don’t you get tired of me asking for help over and over? How many times can I ask you God before you tell me ‘Enough.'” Almost as soon as I asked, the answer came back . . . “Infinite. Unlimited.” And He did it again.
Alexa has taken over my house. She now controls my lights, my security cameras, my thermostat . . . she even controls my grocery list. And I love it. It’s just so bloomin’ convenient.
Some people would think I am crazy, giving Alexa (really Amazon) such complete information about the workings of my life. I do admit it concerns me a little bit sometimes. So, I ask Alexa, “Are you spying on me?” She always responds emphatically, “No.” Good enough for me.
The thing is, it doesn’t really take a whole lot of assurance of privacy for me. I don’t assume I have much of it anyway. Whether I am home, or at work, or at the store, or at church, on a wilderness trail, or simply sitting on the deck in my back yard, I try to live my life as if someone is watching all the time. Because, Someone is.
Romans 1:20 says that creation teaches us about God, that we can learn about God’s nature simply by looking at his creation. With the reality of that truth sinking in my head, I am beginning to wonder what I could learn about God simply by taking a few minutes today to examine his creation?
What do the Spring flowers teach me? What can I learn about God from the peonies by the mailbox? Does a yellow dandelion in my yard say something about God’s character? When I smell the wonderful aroma of a Magnolia blossom, why is my brain filled with a sense of awe? And what about the spider lilies, whose leaves are dying? They will be hiding in the ground, unseen until the fall, when they will explode out of the ground to paint their fiery red display across our yard, proving that life has been there all along.
What can I say? If a few Spring flowers are my teacher, then I must know that God loves beauty, and color, and intricate, surprising shapes, smells, and textures. He wants us to see it too, for he scatters it everywhere. But he doesn’t leave it too long. He doesn’t want us to get used to it and start ignoring it. Even though it may be gone for a while, it comes back, and we appreciate it all over again. There are different flowers for different seasons. And even in the Winter, there are icicles, frost, and an endless variety of snowflakes. And by my driveway, even if they have to peek from under the snow, will be the buds on the camellia bush, a beautiful promise of the coming Spring.
Sometimes God allows bad things to happen so that he can get glory. We see this clearly in John chapter 9, among other places in the Bible. Am I the only one? Or are there other people who don’t like that idea? God might let me or someone I love suffer because it’s better for him? That sounds a bit selfish and egotistical to me. Until I realize something . . .
God doesn’t need glory and honor to himself. He doesn’t need us to tell him how great he is. He has no ego or inferiority complex that needs to be fed by our praise like some Hollywood movie star, strutting about for the camera. No, God is complete in himself. God needs to get glory and praise because that is what we need, not because that is what he needs. So, when bad things happen so that God can be glorified, even that is really for us. Because he loves us. Because he wants what is best for us. And what is best for us, is to see him in all his glory.
Jesus’ death on the cross is a perfect example of all of this. Jesus suffered tremendous pain so that God could be glorified, right could win, and we could see him as savior and Lord. The pain and the suffering pointed a blinding bright spot light on the love of God as the “star of the show.” In the grand finale, when he bursts from the grave, we stand and cheer or bow and worship at the amazing acts of God. And as we give our accolades to him, he says, “The show was for you. I did it all for you.”
I saw a sign yesterday that was advertising for a divorce lawyer. It promised a quick and easy divorce with a headline promising to help “Undo I do.” At first I noticed the clever phrase, then I considered if it was even possible for a divorce to be quick and easy. I think not. And the more I thought about it, I realized it’s not even possible to undo “I do.”
You can’t undo a promise. You can’t unsay it. You can pretend it never happened or you can say you didn’t mean it, but you can’t unpromise it. Once you make a promise, there are only two real possibilities. You can either keep it, or break it.
Strange as it may seem, that’s still one more option than God has.
Lately, I have been thinking about intimacy. I can’t say whether or not everyone longs for it, but I believe at least most people do.
When we hear of intimacy we often think of sex. That can be a part of it, but it is not its essence. Real intimacy is that private bond two share when nobody else is around. Nobody else is involved. Just me and one other. The closeness of which nobody else can be a part. One is alone, three’s a crowd, but two can be intimate.
Sometimes I long for intimacy. I want intimacy from true love. Love can provide intimacy to another because it loves. And love can provide intimacy to another because it wants to be loved. The best intimacy is both. I don’t think true intimacy can exist long without both parties providing both.
I don’t want my wife just to give intimacy to me because she loves me. I want her to desire intimacy from me because she loves me.
God does both. Imagine that.
A few days ago, I saved a worm’s life. He was wriggling like mad on the sidewalk, hopelessly removed from the comfort, safety, and security of the nearest dirt. He must have crawled out there during a rain storm, got lost, and since he had no fingers with which to work his GPS, was doomed to wriggle around the concrete until exhausted and dried up.
Lucky for him, I came along and noticed his plight. As I plucked him from the sidewalk, he screamed “Don’t eat me!” I tried to assure him I was not an Early Bird, nor did I have similar culinary taste. He was not convinced and therefore continued to wriggle frantically, trying to escape the discomfort of my pinching fingers. It did not matter. I tossed him to the dirt and continued on my way. I saved a worms life.
I am sure if you were to discuss the incident with the worm, you would get an entirely different account of the events that occurred. But then, he is a worm. And I am a human being. Our difference in perspective and capacity for understanding is vast. Incomparable really. Kinda like God and me. Only God cares for me enough to die for me. I would NOT go that far for a worm.
I admit it. I am a science geek. So, it is no wonder that I have been watching the progress of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover mission with great interest. I’ve been checking web sites, watching videos, reading news and comments, and studying the earliest little grainy pictures.
Just a couple of days ago, I read a comment that was posted under a video of the Mars rover landing. Most comments were very positive, praising NASA for a successful landing and an exciting mission. However, one particular comment, negative in tone, caught my eye. It was complaining about all the money that was being spent on exploring Mars when ” . . . all we need to know can already be found in the Bible.” I think the comment was both sad, and wrong.
How could one book possibly contain all we need to know about an infinite God and His unfathomable expansive creation? Sure, the Bible contains what we need to know about God, salvation, and foundational truth. But it can’t contain everything we can know, because there is always more to know. I am grateful for a medical doctor who reads the Bible, but I hope his knowledge also includes some details about the human body that have been discovered since the Bible was written. On this hot summer day, I am thankful the chemists and physicists felt the need to understand atoms, molecules, and the principals of heat, cold, expansion and contraction. Without that knowledge, no one would have invented my air conditioner. The Bible is more than a book. It is the foundation of knowledge and truth about our Creator. However, the Bible itself says “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork .”
There is so much more to know. So much more to be discovered. I say, let us explore. I am not afraid of what we may find. Those with a godless world view may use the discoveries to invent theories, trying to erase their subjection to an all powerful God. Where they are determined to find no god but themselves, they will see with clouded eyes, exactly what the are looking for, finding emptiness and meaninglessness in the process.
Those of us who eagerly accept there is something greater than ourselves, will find evidence of His existence throughout the universe. Just as an artist endows a painting with a small bit of himself in every brush stroke, so our omnipotent creator has left His “DNA” throughout his creation. The wonders of creation reveal the mysteries of the creator. It’s out there. He’s out there. Let’s go exploring.
The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.
– Psalm 19:1
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead . . .
– Romans 1:20