I love thunderstorms, but I am too comfortable around them. If I am awake I enjoy them, if asleep I snore through them. Even the tornado siren fails to stir me. Yesterday afternoon as I sat in my office I loved to listening to the pouring rain and occasional thunder outside my window. I had to step out of the office a few times just to appreciate it. A record setting 4.42 inches of rain would fall. On the way home my joy began to fade as I noticed the high water levels in my neighborhood. I remembered the water level in a heavy rain can get close to our backdoor. It has never flooded in the past, but I thought this might the time. All the sudden the rain took on a regal robe of majesty. It was to be respected.
I approach God too casually. I forget His Holiness, His majesty, His glory, His righteousness, His jealousy, His wrath, His uncompromising commitment to His name. I forget that He is a consuming fire. I forget that there is only one reason why I am not under wrath. There is only one reason why I am no longer condemned. There is only one reason why His Spirit indwells me. There is only one reason why I can read His Word, assured of its promises, as illuminated by the Spirit. There is only one reason why I can pray to Him and approach His throne. There is only one reason why His magnificence is beautifully glorious and not horrendously terrifying. That reason is Jesus and the “wonderful, tragic, mysterious” tree.
Knowing God is perhaps like skydiving (I’ve never been). It is a thrill, an exhilarating, breath-taking stunning joy – only with a parachute. Take away the parachute and it is utter terror, there is no joy only sheer dread.
Or as I love to illustrate it, imagine there is a colossal roller coaster that dwarfs all others. It has more twists, loops, and drops than all its competition combined. You are intrigued and become consumed with riding it. But then you discover it is a terror for it has no harnesses. All who dare approach it die, there are no survivors. It breaks your thrill seeking heart to discover that this magnificent coaster would not be your joy, but your undoing. God is the eternal, infinite joy our hearts were made for. As Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” Yet you cannot enjoy this God for all His power is against you. But there is a safety harness. He is Jesus. We only enjoy all that God is in Jesus. No one would ever ride a respectable roller coaster without a harness. Approaching God with reverence and fear means constantly clinging, loving, appreciating, and worshipping the harness. The storm is only truly enjoyed from the vantage point of safety.