Stand with me on a high hill top: Purple red-buds…shades of pale green leaves….dog wood trees, white and pink… bright green grass…. daffodils, tulips, forsythia and phlox more brilliant than a new box of crayons…blue birds, cardinals and sparrows lighting and darting from tree branch to tree branch…blue jays and blue birds; ravens… Mockingbird showing- off her vast song repertoire…
…. And Hawks… Spread wide wings riding invisible circular currents…
In all directions as far as the eye can see… hills, pastures, barns, crop fields, lakes, streams… crisp clear blue skies with wisps of white…
Beyond it all, ancient mountains brace and embrace all of the life in the valley.
The most eloquent description could never do justice to the breath-taking beauty and vastness of this nature scene.
It is huge…it is magnificent. It is only a thumb-nail image of what God has created.
Picture the moon…full… on an almost cloudless night… Millions of stars twinkle. Gentle breezes blow. Be transfixed. Faint cool Luminescence pulses across midnight mountain lake ripples. It is too early for crickets or tree frogs. Silent…except for faint rustling of night creatures and lapping water against the land.
Now it is a clear morning. I am the Hawk…flying high above it all. I follow the water from the heights of the mountain. There are many paths that the water takes from the mountain top…but I only follow one. There are too many streams to follow them all…so I must choose. How will I choose? Will I follow the wide river or the narrow stream? Will this path lead to where I want to go, or will it stop before I get there. I have to trust…trust my instincts. There is no way to know for sure using my head. I will have to trust my heart.
I have a destination. I sense that there is an ultimate destination where everything is flowing…Where everything is moving toward. I don’t know how long it will take to get there or what I might encounter along the way. Will there be storms that I must go through? I want to enjoy the journey… if possible. But, as much as I look forward to it, I know that it is not a pleasure trip. I have someplace else besides here that I need to be. There is more to learn to see to hear to smell to taste to feel. I know that there is MORE. It is beckoning me to search for it and to find it.
Up where I am flying, I see that some streams stop. Some streams fade away…some disappear underground. Will they re-emerge? Perhaps. Will the streams that I see dammed one day flow free again? Will whatever is causing the blockage one day crumble away?
Perhaps the desire of the water to continue on its course will be too powerful to hold it back.
Now I have left the constriction of space and time. I have gone back thousands of years. I am flying over a tower. It is an awesome structure…like nothing anyone up to this time has ever seen…like nothing anyone else has ever done. Men are incredibly proud of their ability to create such a structure. It is quite a statement of power to be capable of making something so grand. These men begin to talk among themselves…if they are so clever and so wise perhaps they can do anything they want. Anything…Anything at all. They could even take creation as their own. They could rule over it on their own. If they could build this tower that can reach so high without God’s help…what else could they accomplish? They could dominate the whole world. They could establish a Kingdom of man… one that excludes God. If they are so smart and all-knowing why do they need God?
This was a time when the “world had one common language and a common speech.”
3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth. ~ Genesis 11:4-9
The Tower of Babel makes me think of our modern day problem with understanding each other.
…And our problem with interpreting the Bible.
There IS controversy about what the Word means. What were the words when they were written…and how do we understand them now. Who were the words written to…about…who was writing them…why were they writing them…what was the motive of the writer…
This problem with our lack of agreement on the interpretation and the understanding of the Bible and God’s Word has caused much heart-ache…
I imagine more to God than to man.
I think God was very purposeful when he confused our languages. It was a not a good idea for us to understand written words or verbal conversations with one another. If we only learn by what is tangible and visible and understandable to our limited minds…God cannot work in us to provide discernment and vision.
God did not intend for us to stop knowing more and more about Him when the last book of the Bible was written. There are still plenty of ways that God shows up and performs miracles and provides clarity. We have to look beyond what has been written or what has been spoken of in the past. If God is Alive…and is alive in our heart and in our life then He has more to say. He wants to clarify things for our world today. We have to be still and ask him to speak…and then we must listen.
It seems egotistical to believe that we have been granted a greater ability to understand God than anyone else. “Episcopalians are more enlightened than Lutherans who are more enlightened than Methodists who are more enlightened than Presbyterians who are more enlightened than Baptists who are more enlightened than church of Christ who are more enlightened than Church of God who are more enlightened than Catholics who are more enlightened than Jews who are more enlightened than Muslims who are more enlightened than…” REALLY???
We are so arrogant…like the Tower of Babel folks. We believe that we can get to God by our great and elaborate religions and ceremonies and rules…things that we construct. We believe that our religion and ceremonies and rules are the only path to God…and if a person does not find and get on our idea of what the straight and narrow path is, then too bad…so sad. How unlucky to select path #124 when everyone knows that the ONLY right path is “my path.”
Being on the right path isn’t about luck…or a choice. We all have the chance to find God no matter what path we start on or what path we are on now. It isn’t about our choosing him. It is about His Mercy and Grace…and the FACT that He has already chosen us.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:16-17 –NIV)
Consider how many versions there are of the Bible JUST IN ENGLISH. When I looked up the verse above, I counted 51 others (52 counting the NIV). That doesn’t account for the “outdated/ not updated versions” that most people have unless they purchase a new version every year!
How many versions are there of the Bible when we add all of the other languages of the world? Have you considered how many different meanings one word can have in one language…and that the same word in another language might have ten more meanings? For some reason God gave us this many words in the world. Jesus was constantly using metaphors and parables instead of saying the exact words that would tell his lesson. I believe it is because God wants for us to seek out the meaning. I believe that God made His Word so mysterious and open to interpretation because His Word is supposed to be a personal message to each one of us depending on what He needs to speak into our life.
Consider that possibility.
People gravitate toward others who interpret the world or the Word the same or in a similar way that they do. They have a common understanding and it is comfortable and comforting to talk with others who agree and understand. That is how Religions and Denominations are formed…and how they become separate and separated.
As the group of like-minded people continue to grow and re-enforce their common beliefs and interpretation and understanding, an “us” versus “them” mentality develops. An empowered feeling grows as the converts to the cause become more and more in number and in surety that “we” are “Right” and everyone else is not.
Picture a huddle… shoulders and hip together….chanting the chant…cheering the cheer. Doing what they do…The “collective” creates an impervious boundary with all eyes looking at the same thing…each other. Energy and ideas spin around and around and the group becomes more rigidly tied together…tighter and tighter… and their vision becomes smaller and smaller.
The world around them has ceased to be. Their world is what they know and the unknown is unwanted and unwelcome.
A similar image would be an old West Settler’s circle of wagons. The more wagons there are, the safer everyone in the group feels… people inside feel protected from what is outside. But what are they protected from? The unknown? Exploration? Adventure? Understanding? More…
Has any individual or any corporate religion ever been given a clear and complete understanding to All of God? …What ALL of His words actually mean… definitely… without any question? Or is there a possibility that God wants us to find Him and understand His Words by listening to Him…the Holy Spirit in our heart. Yes, Read. Yes, meet and worship and talk to one another. But those are not the only way that God speaks…I would say they are not even the best. Without listening for God to interpret his Word, we can’t really know. And we have to be tuned in to hear…and to feel.
God is so big.
There is so much more to know. Aren’t we supposed to get to know Him more and more? There is always something new to discover! I feel like many of us have stopped exploring and have gathered up our beliefs into a little treasure chest and buried it under a mound. We stand there like King of the Hill…daring anyone to come and knock us off. At our feet and we have staked a flag of conquest. We say “This is mine! This is what I know about God and I don’t need to know anything else!” Sometimes the little bit that many of us know we don’t share.
It reminds me of a song I used to sing when I was a kid…from “One Tin Soldier” …
Now they stood beside the treasure,
On the mountain, dark and red.
Turned the stone and looked beneath it…
“Peace on Earth” was all it said.
Peace on Earth. There is enough for everyone. No one is better (or worse) than anyone.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you…” Matthew 7:7
Ask. Seek. Knock…and it shall be opened. God treasure of wisdom. God’s gift of Love and Life.
Are we really so arrogant to believe that we are the Way…the only way…that we know the Truth…the Only truth. Aren’t we like the builders of the Tower in Babel…so proud of what we know and what we have accomplished…leaving little room for God to show us His way.
Many of us are earnestly seeking God. But there is a danger, I believe, in the notion that the path that I know and that I am on is the only way to God…or even the best way. It is just my way. I have to trust that God is in control of everyone else’s path. And pray that those other paths lead to Him.
A bit of a story that I read last week said, “Once I asked a young man for directions to a place in an unfamiliar city. Instead of giving me directions he offered to go with me. He not only showed me the way; he became the way! I just had to follow him…”
That is trust.
Jesus is my guide to God. Jesus is who I know to get me to God!
Jesus said “I am the Way…No one comes to the Father except through me.”
I was very fortunate in always having my guide…Because of course my path tells me and I know in my heart that God and Jesus are One and the same!
Consider this though… isn’t the essence of who God is complete self-sacrificial and unconditional Love?
Does my life bear the fruit of a life that is full of this kind of love? If it does, then I know God and God is in me. If my life does not have love…then do I really know God at all?
Can’t others possibly know the One True God and what it is to live a “self-sacrificial and unconditional love” life without having YET been introduced to Jesus?
I don’t know for sure, but I have to think yes.
I am not going to get caught up in worrying about HOW God is going to bring people to know Him.
I am not going to fret over the path that others take… I will celebrate God’s ability to bring all of us to Him…perhaps sometimes it will happen when my path intersects with someone else. Maybe that interaction will be a dam breaker. My part is to be Light and Love…and let God be God. I can be his image-bearer though!
We should all celebrate as long as “the” path/ my path/your path is full of Light and Life and Love and is filled with God’s presence and we are all headed toward a greater and greater understanding of God.
God tells us,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
and do not return there but water the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
For you shall go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall break forth into singing,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall make a name for the Lord,
an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” ~Isaiah 55: 8-13
His way is better. Follow Him. Listen to your Heart.
“Life loves you. Trust it. Love it back. Relax into it. Let go of needing to control it. Stop needing and wanting things from it. Say thank you, and see what happens.” ~ Angie Johnsey
See what happens.