Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?

   Who is like you, majestic in holiness,

   awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?

Exodus 15: 11 

Sometimes I just need to close my eyes and open my inner being in order to allow all that is the Lord to come flooding deep into my mind, heart, and soul. It does seem that all of us require these times of reflection, for otherwise, life is just too busy and we are far too distracted to even notice what God has been about along the path of our traveling. God had certainly been active and present during the time just before Moses and the Israelites sang this stanza from their great song of thanksgiving to God for saving them from the Egyptian army. We can look at this scene and quickly recognize the fact that it is relatively easy to give thanks to God when He has done something spectacular such as parting a large body of water and then closing it up again to swallow up the angry forces that are seeking one’s own destruction. Expressing appreciation for God in those circumstances is no problem at all, but those sorts of events don’t come along very often. So, we need to find other points along the way wherein we stop and reflect on the wonder, the majesty, the loving care, and the provision of the Lord in our lives. These are the moments when we reflect upon God’s perfect holiness.

God does not do what He does for the reasons that motivate most of us. God acts out of the depths of His character, and the words and deeds that spring forth from there are carried out as a full expression of His nature. The Lord genuinely loves His creation in ways that we struggle to begin to comprehend. He cares about the way that our lives go, and He enters into the course of affairs in our world in a manner that expresses that care, concern, and desire for us to flourish in this life. The rub for people often comes from the fact that God’s concept of flourishing is quite different than is ours. We think in terms of comfort, wealth, health, and position or power when we describe what it means to be successful in life. The Lord looks to our souls and desires for us to be people who love Him, seek after His presence in the ordinary spaces of our lives, and who take a similar attitude of loving care and understanding grace with others that we encounter during our days. God never promises us that we have wealth, health, or an easy journey through life; instead, He promises to us that He will never leave us in this life and that we will be with Him in Heaven for eternity after these days are completed.

So, back to that moment of quiet, close-eyed reflection. It seems to me that it is very easy to lose sight of God as I go through the processes and engage with the urgencies of my days. The voices that assail my mind often place blinds over my heart’s ability to discern truth and wisdom, and the tasks that life demands frequently claim my mind’s total attention to the degree that they have my absolute loyalty. All of this comes at the expense of my ability to appreciate the One who makes it possible for me to do everything that I accomplish and who grants me the love, grace, and wisdom that I need to enter into all of it with a heart that is set on doing what is righteous, good, and holy. The Lord desires for each of his people to live out every one of our days in a manner that will bring the presence of God into all of the places that we occupy and that will leave the sweet aroma of His holy love behind us as a reminder of why we live as we do. The ability to go through life with God in front of us in everything is gained and is enhanced in these times of looking closely upon His face, of expressing thanksgiving for all that the Lord is and does, and by seeking His will for each thought, word, and action that we will undertake today.  

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

so are my ways higher than your ways

and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55: 9

 

These are God’s words as Isaiah relates them to us. The Lord is contrasting the way that He acts and thinks with the way that people conduct our lives. Yet, God is not really establishing His superiority as much as He is setting out the possibility for us. The Lord is calling upon people to choose to follow a path through life that is righteous and holy. This is a call to repentance that leads us into relationship with our Lord.

 

You see, God does not dwell in the rubbish heap that is too often our world. His place of residence is heaven, and this is a place that is wholly separate and apart from the sin-ravaged and broken landscape here. Yet heaven is not so because God has placed a barrier around it in order to keep it apart and the world distant; rather, God is holy, sinless, and He does not allow anything that is otherwise into His presence. Herein lays the powerful appeal of God’s words through the Prophet.

 

Through Christ we can enter into this same state of being holy and acceptable to God. As we are in Christ we are changed, transformed, and our old fallen ways of acting and thinking are continually being reshaped into ways that are holy, that is loving, just, other-focused, and humbly yielded to God’s word. As the Holy Spirit does this work in us a great miracle takes place. We are relocated into the glory of heaven; yet, we do not leave this world. As we think and act out of the wisdom and the grace of our new lives in Christ, we bring the righteousness and the renewal of heaven into this needy place.