Summary: This is the final message in our Contrarian’s guide series. It’s all about learning to go deep with God.
For the past few weeks we’ve been looking at stuff that goes contrary to popular opinion. Things like less instead of more, and living for more than me as number one, and how to slow down instead of hurry. It’s been a fun series for me personally, because I think I fall victim to the normal, the typical, and the usual. I am a go with the flow kind of guy, and sometime I just have to shake things up... Tonight I want to talk with you about one of the biggest shakeups I’ve had over the last few years. It has to do with who God is and how Big he is, and what we must do to understand him better...
Some of my favorite stories from the Bible are stories that I have heard for a long time, but I still don’t understand. Familiarity with something doesn’t mean you really know it - and I think a lot of the stories of the Bible describe God in massive terms and images...and we miss them.
I love the image of Moses and the burning bush. Moses was a guy that was running from his past. He had grown up with the Pharaohs family. Groomed from a young age to be great - but then his heritage started seeping out. He was born an Israelite, part of the slave class - and one day while watching a slave being beaten, his anger gets the best of him and he kills an egyptian. Years later, he’s on a mountain tending sheep and he sees this bush that is on fire, but not burning up. As he goes to investigate, the bush says, “Take off your sandals, for you are in the presence of God, you are on holy ground.”
All throughout the Bible, God’s bigness is amazing... When Israel finally builds a temple, God said that he would place himself there in a room called the holy of holies - but you could only go in there once a year - and only one person could go in... They tied a rope around his ankle, and he had bells on his cloak, so they could tell if he was still alive. Once a year he went in to see God and you might not come out alive...
The prophet Isaiah tells a pretty cool story about meeting God. It’s found in Isaiah chapter 6.
READ ISAIAH 6: 1-8
One of the things that I have come to realize is that God is bigger than I will ever understand. Paul seems to understand this well...and as many times as I’ve read the writings of Paul, I guess I just missed verses like this one: 1 Corinthians 2:7 "No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began."
Paul speaks often about the mystery that is God...and the more I think about it, that’s what I want to see. I want to know God’s richness and bigness. I want to understand God at a deeper level, but I’m not there yet.
I was reading an author that I like, Calvin Miller, and he tells the story of his family going to the great barrier reef. He described how odd it was to be seventy miles out into the ocean and be standing in ankle deep water. he had went with his wife and his son - he and his wife, Barbara, spent the day snorkeling - sun-burning their backs as they looked at the beauty of the reef while they snorkeled, but his son had went scuba diving. While they never went very far from the surface, their son had probed the depths... Listen to how he describes it, “What amazes me most is what we reported upon returning from the Great Barrier Reef. Ask me if I’ve been there, and I will hastily answer yes. So will my son. However, the truth is that the content of our experience was greatly different. We will both spend the rest of our lives talking about the experience and our enthusiasm will always be exuberant. But only our son knew the reef; only he understood the issue of depth.” (Miller, Into the Depths of God, Pg. 16)
If you want to go deep, then you have to prepare. You have to get ready, you have to do stuff. Almost anyone can learn to snorkel in a few minutes. It’s easy because it’s almost the same as swimming... Scuba diving is a whole different thing - but it’s really the only way to see the depths.
I think one of the things that God has been teaching me this year is that there is more of him than I could ever understand, but not everyone gets to experience his depth - his greatness. Most of us only experience God at the surface. We paddle along quite content to come to a church, or listen to a message, or listen to a worship CD in our car... But there’s more if we want it.