A few weeks ago, we had the wonderful opportunity to go to the Tayto Park in Co.Mayo with some of our dear friends. It was a glorious day, full of good memories and of course, as usual, I took a million pictures. However, when I think back to that day, there is one very particular, small moment that has stayed in my mind, especially over these past few weeks.
The day we happened to go, the weather was beautiful. My parents were also able to join us, and it was one of the highlights of our summer. There was something for us all to enjoy. Izzy and Judah got their faces painted right away, they loved looking at the animals and going up and down (x100) the slides in the park. I had a large hot coffee in my hand the whole day and the men in the group went on the big wooden roller coaster. (Not Dad’s favorite decision of the day!)
The particular moment I want to share about occurred right in the mid-afternoon. It was during a few minutes of down time, when we are all standing, looking at the map, deciding, should we eat, get some (more!) ice cream, or keep walking around the park. I was semi-involved in the conversation, while keeping an eye on where Izzy and Judah were walking and wandering. We had just come through Judah’s favorite part of the park, which was an area with three or four huge, dinosaur models that moved, and even squirted water. They both got inside a broken dinosaur egg to get their pictures taken (which they will love to see when they are 18!). It was just outside this area that we all happened to be standing, deciding what to do next, when I looked around to find Judah. I looked in the direction of the dinosaurs right away, as I knew this is where he would most likely be. When I looked over to where he was, I just stopped and stared (and then took a few more photos). My little man, who loves dinosaurs more than anything else right now, was bent over and staring at a small sign. The sign was simply information about the dinosaur exhibit. It had facts and a few pictures of people walking around looking at the dinosaurs. Here he was standing, lost in his own little world, getting as close as he could to the photo, so he could get another glimpse of his beloved dinosaurs.
It all seems like a totally normal thing to do, except right behind him, actually towering over him, was the real thing! He was missing precious minutes of enjoying looking up at the real 3-D, moving dinosaur, by settling for the small, grainy, 2-D image of the actual dinosaur that was before him. I tucked that image away in my mind and it has come back to me often during this busy month of summer.
Why has this particular image come back to me? Because, I see myself, so often, doing exactly the same thing. I have many times settled for the grainy 2-D image of Christianity, living through what others have experienced or said, instead of soaking up the opportunity of meeting with and worshipping the Almighty God. I can allow other people’s words to be given precedence in my life, rather than giving authority to the truth of God’s Words. I miss out on the holy experience that is before me, by failing to give Jesus His place of supreme authority and affection.
This image has come back to me, as I have been running late many mornings to meet up with a friend and I have read a 5 minute devotion, or an app on my iPad, rather than cultivating the discipline and habit of reading God’s Word.
It has come back to me as I have enjoyed reading the books I have ordered on Amazon, while the book of Revelation, which the Lord has been bringing to my attention, has sat waiting.
It has come back to me as I have met friend after friend for coffee, and we have chatted for hours about our struggles and dreams and then my words have run out at the end of the day, when I should be bringing it all to the Lord in prayer.
Please, don’t get me wrong friends. I love to read Chrsitian books, I have many devotional books and apps that I appreciate, and which are a help to me in understanding the Word. But, they have to have their place. I love nothing more than to get together with friends and talk about the Lord, but this is an over-flow, of time spent with the Lord. When these good things take the place of our time in the Word and prayer, then we miss out on a truly authentic and glorious experience. We can get used to the bite-sized portions we are fed by other people, and turn down the invitation to feast at the banqueting table with the God of the universe and to commune daily with Him!
I am grateful for that little moment in the park when I saw myself so clearly through the actions of my dear little boy. Good things have their place, but we must never let them be a crutch that prevents us from wrestling with the discipline of spending time in God’s Word and being devoted in prayer. It takes effort, it can be intimidating, we can sometimes feel awkward and lost, but we have been given this amazing promise in John 14:26:
“But the Comforter, (Helper), which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you.”
I will never forget the first moment we took Judah through the dinosaur exhibition. His face was a mixture of terror and wonder, and as I held him in my arms, he literally shook with excitement. “Mama, look!!!” Even though it has been weeks since we were there, he still talks about it as if it was yesterday. This is what I still long for today friends, deep within my soul. I am hungry for the Word of God and time with my Savior. I want to experience the thrill and excitement of opening His Word, day after day and learning from Him. The very thought that we even get the privilege of experiencing such fellowship with the God of this earth is amazing! And yet, instead of stilling our hearts, we continue to run, desperate for the perspective of others, while the Creator of the world, who has set eternity in our heart, is waiting for us to draw near to Him.
I don’t know if like me, you are coming to the end of the summer, in some ways grateful for routine again, and yet also longing to experience something more, something new, something real and tangible in our lives. Many of us are longing for the burning bush experience, but we haven’t yet given priority, or affection, to the mouth-piece through which God speaks; the Bible. God has given us these precious, Holy Words, not to be a burden to us, but as a gift which will bring life to our weary souls.
John Piper says this:
The great need of our time is for people to experience the living reality of God by hearing His Word personally and transformingly in Scripture. Something is incredibly wrong when the words we hear outside Scripture are more powerful and more affecting to us than the inspired Word of God.
I would encourage you, if you don’t know where or how to start, to read Psalm 119: 33-40 and pray the words of this Psalm over our own lives.
- Pray that God will give us an eagerness for His Word, over the things of this world.
- Pray that God would give us a longing to obey His Word and that He would revive us with His goodness.
- Pray that God would teach us and give us an understanding of the Bible
- Pray that we will obey Him with our whole hearts and delight in Him.
May we never lose the wonder, that we have been given an amazing privilege, to spend time each day, with Jesus.