Chapter 2: Gripped by God’s Awesomeness

How many times a day do you use the word awesome? I know in high school I used it quite often. I also still use it today, but I have been challenged recently not to. Why? Well, what is awesome? Well, “producing awe”….so not too helpful yet, but the author continues to define what awe is. “Look it up, you won’t find any warm, soft synonyms for awe. They’re serious and threatening. Awe promotes fear and terror. Dread and fright. Awesome says ‘watch out!’” So, when you say that play was awesome….did you really mean to say that the play promoted you to fear and terror, dread and fight? Then it wasn’t truly awesome. The only truly awesome thing is our GOD.

In our rushed society, it’s so easy to have road blocks in getting to God…don’t get me wrong, God is easily accessible, but road blocks to our relationship in the sense that we have too many things on the “to do” list to read our Bible, or maybe we gossip rather than pray, or many other examples (from personal experience), but the author points to a verse in Isaiah 40:3, “Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for God.” When was the last time you “cleared the way.” I know for me lately, I have had to purpose in my heart and mind (because I believe you need both) to read God’s word and also to listen for Him. We’re so quick to pray with our prayer requests, but how often do we listen. Personally, I’m horrible at this, and it’s a MAJOR struggle to sit in silence and not day dream.

 This next passage declaring God’s awesomeness just has to be quoted from the book because it’s an incredible mental picture to think about the power and majesty of our God as well as the significant

             But God “stretches out the heavens like a curtain and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in”(v.22). The word “heavens” describes all of God’s created universe,” and poof…as easily as you put up an umbrella, it was all there.

            Do you have any idea the immensity of the universe God spoke into existence? I’ve tried for many years to find a decent description. Try this on for size: We’re on planet Earth, and we are 93,000,000 miles from the sun. Imagine that distance as the thickness of a piece of paper. From the Earth to the sun, 93,000,000 miles equals a piece of paper.

            With that in mind, the distance to the nearest star is a stack of paper seventy-one feet high, with every single piece of paper representing 93,000,000 miles. (Stay with me; this is getting outrageous.) The size of our galaxy is represented by a stack of paper 310 MILES high (the distance from Chicago to St. Louis), with every single piece of paper in that stack representing 93,000,000 miles. That’s just our galaxy, and it’s one among millions.

            You say, “Oh, I understand that.” Well, think about this then.

            The KNOWN universe is a stack of paper 31,000,000 miles high with every single piece of paper representing 93,000,000 miles! Now for those of you who like math, there are 10.4 million sheets of paper in a stack one mile high. Therefore, the known universe is 31,000,000 miles of paper, with each mile representing 10.4 million sheets of paper and each sheet of paper representing 93,000,000 miles. Are you getting a headache?

           In every description we see of God’s reality, we are struck by the immense distance that exists between us and God – in power, in size, in ability, in majest. The gap is too great to measure.

 The rest of the chapter discusses God’s literal awesomeness. It discusses how leaders are only a “blip on God’s radar.” On earth, we stress because of what this ruler or that is doing….I know I certainly do, but I “not one of His purposes is ever delayed or frustrated – not even for a moment…No one influences God. No one impacts the Lord. No one changes His mind about anything. He doesn’t need you, me, or anyone.”

 I don’t know how to end a chapter review like this one. As our pastor at church says, I think I frequently put God in a box (in church it’s been Jesus we have been putting in a box), but I think I have done this. I have built and painted this beautiful box for God. I want to put Him in there so He is manageable, but why? My God is so powerful, but I want to control Him? He provokes fear and tear, dread and fright…but why? Because He is more powerful than we will ever be able to imagine on earth. Those against Him ignite His fury. Be careful when you use the word “awesome,” we can not begin to comprehend what it means.

Blessed beyond words

Just as short re-cap of things that have recently happened to Jon and I. On Friday, I found out that the Lord let me pass my third section of the CPA exam. I will take my final section on August 29th which will hopefully be my last. I will need 13 additional college credits to optain my actual CPA certificate, so I have applied to get my Masters of Accountancy from BJU. I’m waiting for word if I am accepted or not. If the Lord allows, I will graduate in May of 2011 with Joey and Amy. Exciting stuff.

Jon and I have been praying for about nine months for a new car because about that time ago my radiator began leaking and our trusty mechanic told us that we had probably a year before it would need to be replaced because he put some stop leak in it. Anyway, we found a 2003 Toyota Highlander with low miles for a very awesome price. I tried contacting them on Friday, and I was able to speak with the owner, but then I tried back three times between Friday and Saturday to set up a time to look at it. NO response. I was beginning to get very discouraged. I started looking for different cars on different websites, and I kept praying that the Lord would let the lady call. She did. We went to see the vehicle, and we had it checked out by Toyota. We made an offer, and we will pick it up on Monday evening. I am SOOOOOO excited.

Now, back to studying. Check back soon for my Chapter 2 review of Gripped by God’s Greatness. I finished the chapter, but I haven’t gotten a chance to write the review….to wet your appetite. Do you know what “awesome” really means?

My Chapter by Chapter reflection of Gripped by the Greatness of God

I have been learning some interesting things lately. The Lord has been working on my heart recently. I don’t think I can say that it’s on one specific thing, but the whole entire sanctification process. I started reading a book that mom and dad bought for Jon’s birthday. It’s called Gripped by the Greatness of God by Joshua MacDonald. There are many interesting things that have been puncturing my heart in a good way, but I will try to touch on a couple of things.
 
The first chapter is based on Isaiah 6:1-7 which the first portion reads: “In the year of King Uzziah’s death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory.”
 
When you think of the Christian walk, is holiness the first thing you think of? To be honest, it isn’t for me, and the only reason that I say that is because holiness feels so unobtainable, but what is IT that is SO unobtainable? Do we even comprehend what God’s true holiness entails? Can we comprehend it if we even tried? The book encourages you to be completely shaken to the core in awe of the God we serve. The portion of scripture quoted above is a glimpse at God’s Holiness….what’s cooler about that glimpse is that Isaiah got to see it first hand and then share it with all of us.
 
The first item that Mr. MacDonald points out that struck me was his analysis of the following phrase, “I saw the Lord sitting on a throne.” Here’s a series of quotes from the book. “Sitting — not pacing back and forth. Sitting — not wringing His hands. Sitting — not struggling or searching. Not God. Where was He? He was seated. He was settled. He was secure. He was certain. I wrote in the margin of my Bible, ‘Why so settled and so seated?’ The answer is: because He is in control. He knows it. Everyone in the throne room knows it. No one is worried (pg. 25).”
 
I personally wrote in the margin of the book that I need to remember this point daily. It’s SO easy to get caught up by the news, finances, family issues, and other concerns and forget that God is SEATED on His throne. He isn’t concerned. He is in control of EVERYTHING.
 
Okay, so this chapter had a lot that hit me. I mean even the comment, “with the train of His robe filling the temple.” The author used the example of Queen Elizabeth’s inauguration, but I couldn’t remember that far back, but I do remember Princess Diana’s wedding gown, and I remember the train being so long. It was a sign of regalness (if that’s even a word), respect, prestige, and any other lofty adjective you can think of. Our Lord’s train filled the temple….it wasn’t just the length of an aisle. It was long enough to fill the temple. Very impressive mental picture.
 
The rest of the passage reads: “And the foundation of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke, Then I said, “woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a burning coal in his hand, which he had taken from the altar with tongs. He touched my mouth with it and said, “Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
 
Isaiah realized he was a sinner…a true sinner. He said, “I’m a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips.” Mr. MacDonald points straight at me when he wrote the following: “God forgive us for thinking, ‘You know, Lord, I think I’m a bit more holy than some of Your other followers.’ What a joke! Who cares about how you compare to the other guy? Who can stand before this God?” I personally struggle with this. It’s so easy to look at someone else and feel sorry for them because they don’t understand or see what’s right, but while I’m seeing what they are missing, I’m about to walk straight into a trial that will bring much pain and suffering because I am a sinner.
 
What terrible sin have you committed? Does it plague you? Did you know that it doesn’t have to? I know the Devil uses my past failures as an attack mechanism against my faith, but be encouraged by reading that second portion of scripture again…”Behold, this has touched your lips; and your iniquity is taken away and your sin is forgiven.”
 
I told Jon I was writing a review about this book that I was reading, and he asked why. To be honest, I don’t know. I just feel compelled. The book is good so far, and I want to share it with you. Maybe you will learn something, maybe you will be encouraged, maybe you will be stopped in your tracks because we serve such a holy God. Here’s my final quote for the day from the book think about it and pray about it this week as you look at your life and realize your true state. “We are only prepared to receive and comprehend the grace of God when we have understood His infinite holiness and our incredible sinfulness.”