January 18, 2017 Where Divine Destiny Meets Devoted Paths
Sometimes there is no substitute for personal experience. I remember a time when I was 16 and sitting with my sisters and a few of our closest friends. We were bored so we started brainstorming some adventurous options to fill our evening. We all threw out our best ideas and nothing seemed to stick until bridge jumping was proposed.
Just the thought of it was exhilarating. Excitement filled the room and the energy surged as we piled into the car. We headed to a spot where the railroad tracks crossed a river. The closer we got to our destination, the darker it was and the more the adrenaline built.
We arrived to the riverside, parked the car and started through the tall grass to the bridge. One by one, we climbed a maintenance ladder leading us to the top of a lookout point. The platform wasn’t big but we managed to all snuggle in, each of us taking a turn up front to scope out the challenge at hand.
The one guy that had been there before, jumped right away to reassure us that it was safe enough. He put on a good show which bragged of his bravery. Another followed and survived. It was my turn to take the plunge. I stepped out. My heart was beating a mile a minute. I looked down and the water was rushing below.
There is Nothing Like Personal Experience
With one foot on the edge, I heard everyone chant “ONE! TWO! THREE!” and nothing. My hands seemed to have a mind of their own. They gripped the cold metal handrails in a self-preservation protest.
My mind told me I would be fine and my heart felt more alive than ever. Yet there was an inner battle raging which forced me back like a gut reaction. Despite my desire to be courageous, my mind was spinning with excuses to play it safe.
“I heard once that some kid jumped into a snake’s nest in the water. What if something like that happened?”
“This was crazy! Too far! Too dangerous! Too risky! What if… I could land on a passing log? What’s the point of jumping off this perfectly good bridge!”
“Maybe I could just sit on the sidelines for a second, have let my heart settle for a minute!”
Just then my younger sister whizzed by me with an impatience that shocked me out of my apprehensive mind space. All the sudden my focused changed and I realized how much fun everyone was having without me!
I didn’t want to be left out of anything that could potentially satisfy my desire to feel alive. But if I was going to jump off the bridge that night I needed to let go of the railings and the fears that held me back. All I had to do was take one small step off the edge and then gravity would do the rest. I still smile when I think about it.
An Encounter With The Majestic
My personal experience on the bridge that night reminds me a lot of my interaction with the majesty of God. No matter the source, majesty is very exciting to encounter. Think about the magnificence of a wild horse, the grandeur of a cliff side overlooking a valley or the magnificence of the waves in the ocean. There is something about the dignity, power and authority that draws you in like a magnet.
With some things in life, there is no substitute for the richness that personal experience offers. Bridge jumping falls into this category, hands down. The idea and logic of taking the plunge was nothing like being present on that platform and no picture could ever capture the feeling. I have found, this is also true when it comes to the majesty of God. It took bravery to stop judging Him by the words and actions of others. I had to let go of so many misconceptions, fears and sometimes even pride to encounter Him on a personal level.
I could have played it safe but deep down I knew that my understanding of God’s character contradicted itself. Either God was the all-powerful, limitless, creator of the universe who could not be tainted by imperfect institutions or people or He was made up and irrelevant. I had to see for myself, so I took a baby step and started reading the Bible. The more I read to more I realized I had no clue who GOD really was.
Nothing This World Can Satisfy
Surprisingly, as I read His Word I realized that God shared my distaste for the mundane path I was on. His truth was jumping off the pages of the Bible to exposed the lies I had believed and the traps I was falling in. I started to find comfort in all the rules I once hated because I felt God’s love trying to protect me. Yet, I didn’t have to change and be good to win His attention. Like gravity, His goodness and unconditional love began to sweep me off my feet.
Only after I started personally encountering God myself did I understand the Bible’s explanation for that lingering emptiness I felt. I was not living out the purpose I was created for. The Bible says that it is our destiny to be God’s beloved and He eagerly waits to be ours. For me, the word “destiny” reaches deep down to a longing for a supernatural mix of purpose and blessing and that is exactly what I found.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord (Jeramiah 29:11-14a NIV)
I now know that no matter what I have done, where I have been, or what I did believe about Him, God does not change. He is not hiding his plan from me or from you. He announces it loud and clear. Nevertheless, we have to be brave and let go of our misconceptions, fears and sometimes logic to encounter Him as our own personal experience. For His ways are higher than ours. And nothing we can imagine can compare to what he has planned for us.
“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.” C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity.
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