Have you ever thought about beauty? What is it about the shimmering snowy peaks of a mountain range that makes us stand in awe? Why are we so moved by a beautiful sunset, or the cry of a newborn baby?How many of us have ever stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon and actually felt significant in comparison? If you're like me, you arrogantly marched to the canyon's edge, but then dropped to your knees to cling to the earth in response to its immensity. It is beauty of that magnitude that just inspires awe.
Even beauty like this doesn't fulfill us. We often come away from a beautiful sunset wanting more. The excitement of seeing the Grand Canyon wears off in time – we look over vacation pictures unable to connect with more than a fraction of that initial impact. Our favorite new c.d. – the one we've waited on for weeks – eventually loses its edge, and we are waiting on another that we've heard is coming out next month. How fickle! If I seek fulfillment and joy in music, I will always be disappointed.
Ladies, you will never be fully satisfied with your friendships. Men; Xbox 360, PS3, or even a sports car cannot give you ongoing happiness. You will never be wholly fulfilled by your marriage – in fact, you will likely find yourself profoundly disappointed if that is where you are seeking fulfillment. Lastly, sex does not fulfill! It was never meant to, but something – rather, someone – was, and is.
Dr. C. Samuel Storms in his excellent book, One Thing, shared some wonderful illustrations, which I would like to echo. We are small, God is mind-numbingly huge, and He offers us the greatest gift in the universe - Himself - and our proper response is worship.
I imagine very few of us have ever traveled at 1000 mph. Most commercial airplanes travel at around 500 mph, and at that speed we can travel halfway across the country in a few hours. Double the speed of your last flight – and travel to our nearest neighbor: the moon. The trip, non-stop, would take more than a week and a half! At 1000 mph it would take us over 11 years to reach our nearest star, the Sun. Pluto, arguably the furthest known minor planet in our solar system, would take us 450 years to reach. One scientist commented, viewing a photo of earth taken from near Pluto, that it looked like "a mote of dust floating on a sunbeam". That is to say, our planet was but a speck, even when viewed from within it's own neighborhood!
To get a little more perspective, if we were able to place our entire solar system inside a ball the size of a grapefruit, the nearest solar system from ours would be over a half mile away! And that is only 2 stars - our galaxy alone (what we might call 'our cosmic town') contains between 150 and 200 billion stars! As if that wasn't overwhelming enough, there are - as far as we can currently tell - more than 150 billion other galaxies out there! Feeling pretty insignificant yet, looking over this 'grand canyon'?
There's more: if you went to your nearest beach and began to count individual grains of sand, and continued until you had counted every single grain of sand on every beach on Earth, it wouldn't even come close to equaling the number of stars in the universe. Yet God made, named, and sustains each and every one of them.
You are one single person, living in an average sized town, in a relatively larger country, on an average sized planet, circling a fairly insignificant star, floating in space with 150+ billion other stars in a small corner of our average little galaxy, which is only one of among 150+ billion others. Even still, the God – who created, named, and sustained every star - strangely enough, cares about you. That is your Heavenly Father!
Can a God so powerful, who is yet concerned with even the death of a sparrow, not take care of you? Can He not keep His promises? He promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him, and the more you seek Him, the more you will desire Him, and the more you desire Him, the more of Himself He will give – and with that, "all of these things will be added unto you."You've never seen a painting more beautiful, or heard music more enchanting – you've never tasted any food that is better – God is the artist, and we all simply work with what He's given!
I can worship that God. As excited as I can get about a new song on the radio, surely I could get excited about the Master Musician? As much honor as I give to the President of the United States, surely I can honor God more? As much as I love my own imperfect Father, I can at least love God with as much dedication. Worship God with all that you are for all that He is!
You see, when we come to God disinterestedly – without passion or desire, it's as though we believed that He needed us, rather that it being we who need him. Why else come? But we are beggars and in God is the fulfillment of all our needs.
Some of you may be thinking, "Shannon, deep down inside I desire many things more than I desire God…", but that's only because you've set your sights too low. Many of those things promise immediate satisfaction, but even the best of them are temporary pleasures – only God fulfills us permanently. We fall for these temporary pleasures because our desire for joy is too weak!
Others may say, "I've had this Church thing day in and day out for years, I've grown over-familiar with God", but that's no excuse. I'll tell you why we aren't more passionate in our worship of God – we don't worship the one true God! We are ignorant, and even apathetic of the fact that we are ignorant. You may have come to church from your mother's womb playing pretend worship with half-hearted devotion to a God of your imagination, but not yet met the true God of revelation. God is not your girlfriend, or merely your pal: He's the creator of the Universe, who breathed this awesome beauty into existence with only words – out of nothing! God owns you, and He owes you absolutely nothing! Our God is awesome, in the truest sense of the word, and our response should reflect it.
How we respond to God is worship – worship is whatever you and I do that tells the world and God how valuable He is. That is far more than just singing a song on Wednesday night or Sunday morning – in fact, it is possible to worship God and not sing a note. However, we are a people who, in order to fully experience truth, need to live it – and singing is the overflow of that.
Here is my challenge: do whatever you must with your BODY, to get your HEART to respond emotionally, to what your MIND knows intellectually so your SPIRIT can receive it fully. This is the first and greatest commandment: love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength.That is genuine worship, and our great God is worthy of nothing less!