John 3:16 NKJV
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Don’t worry the final part of “Don’t Despise Small Things” is still coming, but a thought dawned on me tonight and I couldn’t wait to share it.
The above verse is the most famous and well known verse in the Bible. I almost didn’t put it as the subject verse for that reason really, but I can not deny how perfect it is for what I am about to say.
A while back I was studying for the Jr. High Bible study at the Village Grind in Wrightwood. Its a local coffee shop in the town that I live in that I used to frequent quite often before I got a job at the Maui Wowi (another coffee shop down the hill).
In fact I spent most of the previous summer playing my guitar, talking to locals, writing poetry, or reading there. There was one particular day where I was talking to one of the regular patrons and he asked me about what I was reading. Since I was reading the Bible the subject of God was the natural topic of our following discussion. It was actually a discussion I had wanted to have with this man for a while, but was waiting for the right timing.
He was an interesting fellow, because when you first meet him you peg him as possibly an aging construction worker, yet he is an avid guitarist and considers himself a scientists.
I wanted to know and understand where he was coming from so I asked him my usual question of if he had any spiritual beliefs (I find using the word spiritual more disarming and less threating, it also will produce a more honest answer). He did, and while he thought his beliefs to be unique he actually was just very close to pantheism and Buddhism with a vaguely monotheistic tone (God to him sounded much more like the force from Star Wars).
At one point in the conversation (please remember to make witnessing a conversation; and not one sided) he asked me a very interesting question. He asked “When do you feel closest to God?”. After thinking about it for a while I replied something to the nature of “Well I think it is right before I go to bed. Before I sleep, probably because my mind has had a chance to slow down a bit, I spend some time talking to God and can often feel His presence with me.” After hearing my answer he motioned to a nearby hawk flying majestically amidst the adjacent tree dotted hillsides (Wrightwood really is a beautiful village, visit it if you ever get the chance). He said being around all this is when he felt closest to God; he then went on to describe the similar feelings he got while skiing.
Only tonight, while spending some much needed time in the presence of my Lord, was I reminded of this conversation and how lucky I am. People have to go to great lengths to feel close to God, and it is often when they are surrounded by nature that they are overcome by the feeling that God is near. This is normal, and the Bible speaks of this in Romans 1:20 stating,
“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,”.
But this is where John 3:16 comes in, God loved us so much that He made it personal. You don’t have to climb a cloud scraping mountain, or spend time in an arid desert, or brave the flooded forest, just to feel close to God. You can know it every night before you go to bed; more then that, you can know it every second of every day and you can know it intimately.
God sent Jesus, His one and only Son, to bring intimacy to His creation, to His children. The reason you feel far from God, even when you know of His presence whilst surrounded by awe inspiring nature, is because you are. God is perfect and sinless and He can not and will not be one with imperfection and sin, which is what we humans are full of. Jesus took on the penalty of sin, which is death (separation from God, who is life), when He died on the cross. His death was the sacrifice that payed our debts of wrong against Him, all so that you could know intimacy with God. If He hadn’t payed the price of our sin, and just looked over our wrongs, then He no longer would have been holy and perfect and just. But God is just, holy and perfect. Thankfully though He is also loving, merciful and gracious.
All you have to do to know this intimacy with God is believe in your heart that Jesus is God (and that His death and resurrection payed for your sins), and confess to Him that you have done wrong and want His forgiveness. It is a free gift of love that He offers to any who would want to know it.
It couldn’t be more simple.
So, that is why I am thankful tonight. Because I have intimacy with God, every night and more if I want it. Don’t you want it too? I will tell you this much, there is nothing on this earth that compares to it.
1 John 4:9-10 NKJV
“In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
© 2012, Matt Camphuis all rights reserved.