The trail was rockier than expected. Winding up into the mountains, the steep path offered little glimpses of the mountain ranges dotting the horizon. The cool air brushing through the pines and the crunch of leaves under boots, the only thing piercing the silence of the morning.
It’s such a good feeling. Making your muscles work like that, the consistent climb and rhythm of it all. The first hour was a challenge as we wound up to the base of Macrae peak. The next phase of the climb: a series of ladders and cables bolted to the rock face. The thick wood rattled gently with the added weight as we started up with our gear in tow. Each step lifted us higher out of the trees and gave way to cooler, cleaner air.
The last set of ladders were built into the side of an open cliff. No trees or rocks to serve as a sense of security. A sheer drop to the base with one misstep. It’s unsettling putting your full weight into something like that. Halfway up, I grabbed a cable attached to the ledge to steady myself. Slightly out of breath, I turned around.
And just like that, the whole sky opened up. The sun burning the last traces of fog off the blue peaks. The wind’s gentle sway moving through the trees below. Clinging to the cable, I didn’t feel safe but the view was magnetic. Soaking up the sun and wind and higher elevation. I couldn't pull my eyes away.
In a small way, this is what it’s like when we’re confronted with the glory of God. It doesn’t feel tame; it’s not safe. But, it’s what our souls were created for, carved and fit to be filled with awe of Him.
We get an idea of what it might be like in the Exodus 33 exchange between Moses and God,
Then Moses said, “Please, let me see your glory.” He said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim the name ‘the Lord’ before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But he added, “You cannot see my face, for humans cannot see me and live.” The Lord said, “Here is a place near me. You are to stand on the rock, and when my glory passes by, I will put you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will take my hand away, and you will see my back, but my face will not be seen.”
Often times, I think we miss this. The earth-shattering beauty and hope we have in knowing Christ. His glory made known. God with us.
Today is Christmas. A familiar holiday for most, but sometimes I think it becomes too safe. We make it tame. Full of all things superficial and lacking substance.
It’s at times like this where we have to shake off the familiar to see things clearly. To regard God as He is. The birth of Jesus is not just a religious holiday or obligatory formality; it is God making Himself known to humanity. The uninhibited pursuit of His glory and the depth of His love on display. The Creator breaking into the broken creation to set things right again. It’s the hope of being restored to our created purpose.
Ephesians 2:12-14 reminds us,“At that time you were without Christ, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace...”
The overwhelming strength of God wrapped in the humility of a baby to bring mankind to Himself. Let’s take a minute and let the dust of those words settle in our souls. We have peace.
Frederick Buechner summed it up well when he said,
“Those who believe in God can never in a way be sure of him again. Once they have seen him in a stable, they can never be sure where he will appear or to what lengths he will go or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation he will descend in his wild pursuit of man. If the holiness and the awful power and majesty of God were present in this least auspicious of all events, this birth of a peasant’s child, then there is no place or time so lowly and earthbound but that holiness can be present there too. And this means that we are never safe, that there is no place where we can hide from God, no place where we are safe from his power to break in two and re-create the human heart because it is just where he seems most helpless that he is most strong, and just where we least expect him that he comes most fully.”
It's easy to miss this. The way God moves in every minute of our lives. Our eyes are often glued to the ladders in front of us, the day to day grind, the next steps we're gung-ho about taking, the progress we want to make, when all the while, a wildly breathtaking vantage point lays right behind us. Just a glance away. I hope we all get to take a look over our shoulder today, to be in awe of what God has done in Christ.“He made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” | 2 Cor. 5:21
Merry Christmas friends!