Monday, December 18, 2006

When The Majestic Becomes Mundane

There's an old saying that refers to "making a mountain out of a molehill"; that is, turning something trivial or insignificant into something massive, even insurmountable.

How long does it take to make a molehill out of a mountain?

Several years ago, my wife and I visited Grand Junction, Colorado on a ministry-related trip. While we were there, the host pastor took us up into the Colorado National Monument, which was practically in his back yard. A mere five-minute drive and we were in some of the most impressive, awe-inspiring terrain that one can experience in North America.

We ascended the road up the side of the mountain, until at last we sat at the pinnacle of the Monument, overlooking the valley below us. The rugged terrain, the canyon walls, the whispering of the cool breeze was almost more than my mind could take in; I sat in awe and watched as a golden eagle glided past at eye level. The overall presence, the sense of majesty was incredible...judging by these feeble words I write, it was truly beyond description.

The pastor sat humming quietly, looking over his calendar, taking care of some routine paperwork. He commented once or twice but his overall demeanor was one of detached boredom.

How long does it take for the majestic to become mundane?

This is not a potshot at one particular person; this is an observation of human nature. Undoubtedly the breath-taking autumn colors of New England become commonplace, the lofty grandeur of the Rockies becomes a snow-covered nuisance, the stark beauty of Arches National Park is reduced to just "a bunch of rocks", to those who have spent their lives surrounded by these breathtaking wonders.

The sights and wonders that I see on my calendars, and long to partake of in reality, are ordinary fixtures to others who live in such environments on a daily basis.

When did the majestic become mundane?

This thought came to me one morning in prayer. I was having what I considered "good prayer"...the kind that makes you feel good about yourself, about what you're doing; makes you feel like you've spent time with the Lord. It was obviously more than just a morning ritual to let God know that I had shown up for roll call. Things were happening in my spirit, I felt the Holy Ghost...the power, the adrenaline rush, the ecstasy that comes with knowing that you're involved in "one-on-one" with God Himself.

God Himself.

And that's when it hit me.

I sit here trying to describe the shock and terror of such a realization, but words fail me.

I was in the presence of the Almighty. The very One who spoke all things into existence, the King of Kings was there in my closet of prayer...and I was patting myself on the back, feeling good about spending time with Him.

How had I come to such a familiarity with the Eternal God? Undoubtedly it happened the same way the splendor of the Colorado National Monument became just another overlook to my pastor friend. He had access to it anytime; it was but a short drive from his home, and he had been there for many years.

I've no doubt that, when he and his family first arrived, they spent many evenings up on the peak of that landscape, sitting in similar awe at the beauty of God's creation, watching the eagles glide effortlessly past. Likewise, I can imagine that those who relocate from the 100-degree summers of Texas to the frigid winters of Wyoming probably revel in the glorious pristine beauty of the first few snows.

I was born and raised in Texas, where "autumn" falls on a weekend between miserable humid summers and gray slushy winters. The few years my family and I spent in Missouri, the brilliance of the autumn colors was breathtaking, and many spring evenings were spent just driving the back roads of the countryside, enjoying the fresh scents of the season of new life. It was all new and amazing to me.

Have I become so familiar with God that He is no longer amazing to me? Has His majesty become dulled to me because I am considered His son? Have I, in my daily talks with Him, forgotten that this is the very God of all Creation to whom I am speaking?

We have, at times, praised Queen Vashti for refusing to come before the audience of King Ahasuerus, calling it a "cheapening experience". Whether the King desired some sort of vulgar strip-tease or whether he simply desired to show off her beauty we may not know. We do know one thing: the Queen's familiarity with the King ultimately caused her own demise. She became so comfortable in her role as Queen that she forgot that Ahasuerus was still His Majesty the King.

Esther, on the other hand, recognized her place. Although clearly loved by the king, Esther approached the throne as any other commoner: with fear and trepidation. She understood that, if the sceptre was not extended, granting her an audience with the king, even the life of the queen was expendable.

There is a danger of becoming too familiar with the Presence of God that we lose our awe and reverence of Him. Even sitting here writing this, I have wept and repented for losing what has been, in times past, a fear and trembling at His Glory and majesty.

He is God, and I---to use the words of the Psalmist---"am a worm, and no man." Even David, a man after God's own heart, said "What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?" David committed gross error on more than one occasion, but you would be hard-pressed to find where he ever lost his sense of awe and fear of the Almighty.

I understand that God does not expect me to wallow in fear and terror every time I come to talk with Him; however, I should beware, lest I risk becoming presumptuous and forget my place at His feet.

May we never lose our fear and reverence for the God who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light. May we never make a molehill out a mountain.

God forbid that the Majesty of His Glory should ever become mundane.

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