The vision trip team to Asia just returned from a week of shock and awe. One of the most striking visceral reactions from the group during the trip was when our car drove up to the Batu Caves. There, beside the cave stands a golden statue of the Hindu god, Murugan, towering 140 feet in the air. Between this huge statue and the hundreds of birds, monkeys, and other idols the group was quite mesmerized. As we got out of our car and walked closer the experience was so captivating that there was little conversation.
Ironically this false lifeless god created a sense of awe. Yet we as Christians are able to stand daily before the only living and true Creator God. Beholding God in all his splendor can easily become a rarity. We too often settle for a rush through our daily Bible reading, throwing up a quick prayer, and get on with our day. Our assumption is that the meaningful and fruitful part of the day lies in the work that we will accomplish through the labor of our hands. However, God wants to transform our focus away from our activity and towards the beauty of who he is. His desire is that our daily devotions, family devotions, and corporate worship become the catalyst for enjoying and beholding our Majestic Savior.
Let us consider several ways to encounter the living God. (Drawn from Tim Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God):
1. Seeking to encounter the Lord is Biblical:
Consider how central it was to David to encounter the Lord:
“One thing have I asked of the LORD,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to inquire in his temple.” Psalms 27:4
2. In seeking to encounter the Lord we are Changed:
All godly men in Scripture and ever since then were confronted by the reality of who God is in all His glory.
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
The truth is that “if the beauty and glory of Christ do not capture our imaginations, dominate our waking thought, and fill our hearts with longing and desire—then something else will.”
3. Seeking to encounter the Lord is not about the feeling or experience:
We do not seek after the presence of God simply to chase after a feeling or an experience.
“We utilize God for the sake of getting peace and joy, that is, we do not want to realize Jesus Christ, but only our enjoyment of Him.” Oswald Chambers
Often even the godliest live in various seasons without a sense of the presence of the Lord.
“O God, do not keep silence” Psalm 83:1
Our aim is to know God and therefore often our relationship with God will feel rather ordinary and at times even filled with silence as we engage with his ordinary means of grace. Larger Catechism #182 assumes that in prayer we will experience the Holy Spirit “working and quickening our hearts.” However it makes a caveat saying, “Although not in all persons, nor at all times, in the same measure.”
4. Sweet communion with our Maker takes time:
Our book of prayer, the Psalms, teaches us from the first chapter that rich communion is found through mediation (to be discussed in later post) upon his Word. There is an assumption that this mediation is acted upon day and night. The language of the Scripture draws us into a far more rich life of intimacy with God than what most of us consider to be a normal “quiet time.” There is, however, no formula here. Just as we enjoy the character of anyone we come to appreciate by simply coming to know who they are more fully. We must sit and be still in order to take their person all in.
John Owen is hopeful for the Christian who patiently and intently seeks the Lord in prayer saying, “The spiritual intense fixation of the mind, by contemplation on God in Christ, until the soul be as it were swallowed up in admiration and delight, and being brought unto an utter loss, though the infiniteness of those excellences which it doth admire and adore…are things to be aimed at in prayer, and which, through the riches of divine condescension, are frequently enjoyed.”
Some days I wish that I could actually see the God to whom I pray. My faith often falters. And yet I am reminded that we will one day seem him. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.” (1 John 3:2) Until that day know that he wants to lavish you with sweet fellowship. Therefore seek after the Lord each new day and each Lord’s Day with a sense of anticipation in beholding his greatness.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.” (1 Peter 1:8)
Author: Micah Vickery