Last Saturday, our church hosted a one-day conference for ladies. The theme was the tabernacle. We learned about Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ. We learned about the tabernacle and the symbolic meaning of the furniture–the ark of the covenant, the incense … how it all pictures Christ.
My topic to speak on was how can we practically enter the Holy of Holies—meaning, how can we become that close to God.
Now, literally, the presence of God is in heaven–His glory shines there, but He does share His presence with us through the Spirit. So how we can become closer to Him is a valid question.
My talk had an introduction and 3 points. The second point was the largest, and the one I will write about here.
In order to draw close to God we have to accept God the way He is (the way He explains Himself to be in the Bible). This may seem a bit obvious, but it’s surprisingly hard to do and requires maturity that comes from the Holy Spirit.
Let me start with a far-off example. We know that catastrophes happen. Or we know that innocent children suffer terrible things.
Let’s bring it closer. Something terrible happens to someone we know.
Or to me. I am in pain. I am crying. I am hurt. Terribly disappointed. I am wrestling with a long-term, unfulfilled desire. … A “normal” desire even.
And God is in control.
He’s just so very sovereign and in control.
Maybe He’s not directly hurting me, but … He is in control.
And I’m in pain.
And it’s easy, even for a long-time Christian, to entertain towards God a wrong understanding of all this. (Look at Job and his friends, for example. Did any of them get it right?)
It’s subtle. We don’t verbally or mentally accuse God, but in our response can be this hurt toward God, that You did me wrong. You hurt me. I did nothing to deserve this.
You’ve offended me.
You sinned against me.
We don’t actually think those words, but if you think it out to the logical ends, that’s what we’re doing. It comes as anger toward Him, as accusations toward Him, but bottom line. We’re accusing God of sinning against us.
When Jesus walked on the earth, He fulfilled every single command of God every single moment. And did anyone notice? … No. They accused Him of sin. So accusing God of sin is not such a far off thing.
So, here comes the question. When I’m in pain and God is in control, am I ready to accept God the way He is?
And I want to add: We can’t just shrug and say grudgingly, “OK God, You don’t sin, but I still don’t have to like You or gratefully accept what You’re doing.”
Woe to us if we remain there!
We have to grow into accepting that 1) He never sins–that in fact, sin is so very far away from Him in His every act and dealing with us and all mankind–and that 2) everything He does in my life is a personal, deeply intimate, loving, compassionate, merciful, good act.
Is that true? is that really the way God is?
How is He? Who is He? And can I accept such a God, rather than remake Him in my own image?
- “full of compassion and merciful” (Jam 5:11)
- “righteous” (2 Chron 12:6)
- never-ceasing lovingkindness, unfailing compassion, of great faithfulness (Lam 3:22-23)
- Good to the person who seeks Him (Lam 3:25)
- compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, full of lovingkindness and truth (Ex. 34:6, Jonah 4:2, Joel 2:13, Ps 103:8, Neh 9:17)
This list could go on and on.
But the point is, that to enter into intimate closeness to God, we have to humble ourselves to accept Him for who He is. Even when we’re in pain.
Especially when we’re in pain.
And then, may the day come in my life, that I trust His character enough that during deep pain, Whys don’t even come. And offense and petty hurt are not my friends. Just … who He really is and “Thank You, God, I trust You.”