I was planning on writing about something a little different today, but as I stopped to ask The Lord what He would have me write about He very clearly spoke the words, “The Lord Is There.” “The Lord Is There” or “Yahweh Shammah” is one of the names we are given for God in the Old Testament and The Father revealed himself to us in this way through the prophet Ezekiel.
When The Lord spoke this to me, Psalm 46:1 immediately came to mind, which says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46 continues,
“Therefore, we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.”
How easy it can become for the Christian who has heard such words all his life to have the reality of God’s power dampened by familiarity. Although it is possible to become familiar with customs and creeds, rites and doctrines, songs and services, the true knowledge of God can never be a familiar thing. Not in the sense that it shouldn’t be a familiar thing, but I believe it to be utterly impossible for the One, True God to ever become an ordinary acquaintance.
Familiarity implies having a comprehensive (or nearly comprehensive) knowledge of a person or place. Aristotle is credited with the phrase, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” This perfectly describes the pursuit of God. As soon as we think we’ve come to a place where we have God figured out, or if we have reached a stage where we can speak freely of God’s mercy, love, greatness, and power without being stirred to some kind of emotion... we know we have settled for religion.
I have been convicted lately of how often I sing worship songs around my house or in my car… or even at church and the words that come out of my mouth are empty. They have meaning as far as the message the words convey, but they can often be words alone. Our worship is nothing but an empty frame unless it is filled with the overflow of a passionate heart.
Where am I going with this? I mention this because the truth that we don’t have to fear, that God is good, and that there is power in the name of Jesus will never become a reality to us unless we actually know God. We will never cross the bridge from religion to relationship unless we seek God himself.
When He revealed himself as “The Lord Is There,” He was not simply telling us that He is there in case we get into trouble, He is telling us that He is within our reach! He’s not far off. He doesn’t hide himself from us. He can be known!
Our worship should be the outflow of a heart that has experienced God! From the depths of intimacy with God our hearts cry out in the open, burdened to proclaim the greatness of our God! “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Out of his intimacy with God the psalmist proclaimed, “We will not fear.”
One of my favorite verses as of late has been Daniel 11:32, which says, “But those who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Often in the Old Testament we hear phrases like “the people of God” or “God will rescue His people,” referring to God’s covenant with Israel. But this verse in Daniel struck me because it is doesn’t say something like “The people whose God is the Lord will display strength,” it says those who know their God will be strong and do great things. It’s not about our title or even about our faith primarily, but it’s about intimacy. Faith will grow as intimacy with God grows; it’s inevitable.
God gives us an incredible invitation and promise through the prophet Jeremiah saying, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). He invites us to call out and He promises to reveal to us the deep things of His heart.
So why don’t we? Oswald Chambers said this, “The great enemy of the life of faith in God is not sin, but the good which is not good enough. The good is always the enemy of the best.” Good is a dangerous place to be. I would say that even more than a place of despair, good is the place where dreams go to die. Desperate times can be motivating, but good times are often deadening. Good is where the ordinary thrives; where the mediocre flourishes.
Passion is constantly at war with the voice inside that says, “That’s good enough.” The common denominator of the heroes of the faith, the ones who did great things for God, seems to be a combination of intimacy with God and an unrelenting pursuit that flowed from the knowledge that there is always more of Him to have.
We have to make the determination that “good enough” is not good enough. God is not far off, He Is There, and waiting to respond to our pursuit.
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