'The battle is not to do what we don't want, but to want what is infinitely worthy of wanting' [John Piper]

The destination

As with any journey, the more we know about where we are going, the greater our motivation to get there. Our priorities become focused on that single goal of reaching our destination.

Who is this God we are striving for? Is He worth knowing?

Before we start, let’s get one thing clear – the God of the Bible has absolutely no relationship to the small god of popular opinion.

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 An experience by speaker and sometime song-writer Louie Giglio helps portray the many different perceptions of God in our culture.

 With the benefits of an “inside pass” obtained by a friend, Giglio was travelling by bus in the very early hours of the morning to see a space shuttle launch. They went through many checkpoints, passing people sitting on car roofs with binoculars and zoom lens. Alas, their visions of maybe actually getting to see inside the space shuttle quickly abated when they were told to park their bus on the side of the road about 3 miles from the space launch.

 Sitting in the darkness of the early morning, Giglio was somewhat downcast. He thought that maybe his friend’s so-called “connection” was the janitor of the local burger store where the astronauts once had lunch. Despite his misgivings, the excitement started to build as the countdown progressed……. finally, liftoff.   Then … nothing. Despite their privileged, special connections, inside pass parking location, they could see and hear nothing. Absolutely nothing. 

 “Can’t see it, Can’t hear it. And we know somebody”.

 Finally, after about 30 seconds, they could just see the small speck of the space shuttle, a blip above the tree line, accompanied by a sound like someone talking across the other side of the lake. 

 “Okay, and we came all this way to see that?”

 As the space shuttle continued its upward journey, the noise gradually increased, until it was like the sound of thunder rolling over them. Then it gets louder, so it’s more like a bowling ball coming down the alley, an alley they were right in the middle of.

 It started getting so loud that Giglio was getting excited. “This is really cool! This is great!” Although by now they couldn’t hear each other shout as the increase in noise level continued.

 It kept getting louder and louder, until it reached a point when Giglio wasn’t excited any more. He started getting nervous. Maybe they were too close, maybe they should have stopped several checkpoints back. He stopped shouting for joy and started to get totally scared inside, terrified, and the rumble continued to roll over them, continued to increase in volume.

 And even in the midst of that terror, Giglio realised as he looked up at the shuttle “there are people in that thing”.

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Clearly the predominant and popular view of God is the “Can’t see Him, can’t hear Him, so He mustn’t be there” variety. What relevance does an apparently invisible, silent, unknown god have in this modern world of ours? Why should we bother? Like Giglio felt, what an anticlimax having come all this way to hear nothing, and see nothing.  It is at this point in the journey, the very beginning, most people decide to turn around and go another way.

For those who continue, gradually you will see that speck in the distance. This might represent your acceptance that there is a God after all. He might actually exist. But just like the Space Shuttle, it has little if any impact on your life. We might be content with the concept of a God being “up there”, but not really willing to give up our own time or priorities to investigate much further.  This seems a comfortable place to rest on our journey and take a look around. We set up camp, and start getting on with the business of living our lives.

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Some people decide to find out more. They continue further down the path. They not only start to see the “blip” in more detail, they start to hear the noise as well. What if our feelings of being comfortable with our beliefs changed into feelings of excitement?  We realise that this is a good thing. This is something to share, to talk about. It was a good idea coming down this path wasn’t it?

Does this level of excitement signify the end of the journey? For many people this seems to be where they stop, and then they start a regular circuit of moving from the levels of excitement to the feeling of comfort, and then coming back again. Gradually however they find they return less often to this place of excitement, and live their lives with God just being a speck in the distance.

 Is this the end of the journey? Are we setting up camp in the right place?

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 Throughout the Bible, when we read how God describes himself, He is so much more awe-inspiring than being a speck in the distance. For example one man, a prophet named Ezekiel, had an encounter with God and then spent the next seven days sitting in a dazed state, overwhelmed and trying to recover (Ezekiel 3:15).  Another man, John, who was one of Jesus’ disciples, had a later encounter with God, and fell down as though dead (Revelation 1:17).  God is described as a “consuming fire”.

“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire…” (Hebrews 12:29).

 This is much more like the thunder or bowling alley type of God. This is a God that doesn’t just cause excitement, but a God who inspires awe-filled fear and reverence. A fear and reverance based on the majesty, holiness and glory of God.

Therefore stand in awe of God (Ecclesiastes 5:7)

At the same time however this is a God who is reaching out to us in unfathomable love and mercy. The more we understand the majesty and awe of God, the more we can appreciate and gaze in wonder at the depth of God’s love for us [see posting on God’s love] . We see the infinite gap between a holy God and our rebellious state, and the love that bridged that gap though His Son Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God (see “Who is Jesus?”)

In the same way that the astronauts were protected inside the shell of the space shuttle, it is the love of God demonstrated through Jesus Christ that enables us to enter into His presence. There is no other way that we can enter into God’s presence, and continue this incredible journey of knowing Him

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But what prevents us from wanting to move from the cycle of comfort – excitement – comfort and move further along the path of knowing the true God who is an all-consuming fire, majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, infinite in love and mercy?  

The impact it will have on our lives.

The benefit of having a “small speck in the distance” type of god is that we can still live our lives independently of God when we want to, but comforted by having Him there just in case we need some help.

However, if God is a really a Big God, we cannot be blasé about this journey. This becomes serious stuff. We need to be prepared to make major changes in our priorities, in our interests, in our desires. To base our lives on God’s priorities rather than what we might want to do ourselves here on earth. We need to surrender our lives to God, to trust God completely, to pursue God with everything we have.

 The closer we get to God the more implications it has for our lives. We cannot expect to walk this path and not be changed. 

This is not an easy choice to make. However our destination, experiencing the wonder, the love and the presence of God, is worth more than anything we could give up on this earth.

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Click here to find out more about who Jesus is, the one who has made this journey possible.

The direction that your life takes, your decisions and choices, are underpinned by your belief system.

This path you are being invited on is no different.

Each component of the belief system that underpins this journey represents a signpost at an intersection in the path.

These signposts described below represent an opportunity to consider what […]

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