I pushed a fork towards my husband saying "you have to try this dessert!" He barely looked up and then declined. I tried again "I'm serious you have to try this!" He again declined. My heart dropped in disappointment. I wondered why I cared if he ate this dessert? It seems a bit ridiculous even as I write.
CS Lewis explains "Our praise completes our joy--we haven't fully enjoyed something until we've told others about it and have invited them into it."
That explains it. It also explains my desire for others to know and experience God the way that I have learned to.
Walking through Israel, I prayed for God to reveal something amazing, spiritual, and huge to me. I wanted to somehow know and experience Him in a greater way. Walking where Jesus lived, looking over the city where his miracles took place and leaning over the side of a boat on the Sea of Galilee where Jesus walked on water were all great experiences. But I was unsettled in my spirit.
I stood among Israelites...Jewish people in a Jewish town. I saw how they looked at me. Rather, how they actually wouldn't look at me and acted as if I didn't exist. Many still have stiff necks and their pride wouldn't let them acknowledge a blonde, gentile woman with any acknowledgment at all.
I stood on the Temple Mount watching a group of men scream at a tourist-couple who was holding hands. All physical touch was forbidden between men and women at their holy place. Men guarded the laws like vicious dogs.
I stood at the exact spot where many years before, the shofar trumpet was blown twice a day announcing that it was time to sacrifice. Lambs and rams had been sacrificed right where I stood until the final sacrifice, Jesus, The Lamb of God, was crucified.
I wondered if the non believing Jews of today realized the (non) consequential timing of when all sacrifice stopped.
I looked at many places and things that I had read about in Scripture. I saw the wailing wall and watched as person after person came to pray. They believe that the glory of God is underneath the wall, the closest place to God in all the earth. They prayed for hours...and every time they spoke His name, in sincerity, they touched their forehead to the wall.
The unsettled feeling never left.
I saw the place where Jesus grew up, where he healed people and did miracles, where he died and rose again. Everywhere was proof of His existence. Yet, I walked among jewish people, thousands of years later, and Jesus is still being denied. Hatred, legalism, and war all engulfs that place. The place where Emmanuel (God with us) came on a mission to free us all from those things. I left that beautiful land more unsettled than ever.
For days afterward, I was quiet and tried to understand why a sadness that I could not shake had filled me. I had an expectation that I would come home exhilarated with a renewed freshness in my faith. I certainly wasn't expecting this.
With tears, I tried to explain to my dad how I was feeling. He listened and said quietly "You must get your eyes on God. Get them off of people and places and problems....and onto God."
I wrestled with those words. I begged God to reveal himself to me so that I could get my eyes on him! "How do I really do that?" I decided to look up every name of God in Scripture and study it completely. I listened to preaching podcasts about God and His names. I found one that told of 365 names and attributes of God. I couldn't stop listening to all that He is. I meditated on His names and began worshiping Him differently. He is the I AM, the Deliverer, the Redeemer, My High Tower, The Restorer, The King of Kings, The Reward and the Rewarder. Many times each day and into the night I would think on God and intently look at His innumerable names and attributes.. And then, my life began to change. My heart changed. My perspective changed, my faith changed.. I began to see clearly. I began to interact with others differently. To counsel with a confidence and passion that was different. I saw clearly that He is love and Mercy and He is Truth and Grace. God is.
Within the deepest part of me, I knew an awe and a love that isn’t describable. I was familiar with these truths before...but this was very different. This was a knowing in the deepest core of my being. This was a supernatural act of the Holy Spirit doing an internal work in me. That is the best I can do to describe it.
Then I hid. I kept my face down because of an understanding of who I am in comparison. I bowed so low as I worshiped. How can He love me? How can He even want me at all? Why would He? Oh, the agony in my soul was painful. But in spite of it..or because of it...I wanted more of Him. I wanted to worship Him more and I wanted to think on Him more. I was smitten by this amazing and unbelievable God. Even now I can't find words to describe it adequately.
I was undone.
After understanding my unworthiness to even speak His Holy name, I realized that He loves me and that Christ alone makes me worthy. He is the lifter of my head and allows me to boldly come to His throne with praise and worship and even my requests. How is this even possible? And yet, it IS!
This journey of pursuing God and keeping my eyes on Him has been the greatest journey of my life. It never ends and it is new every single day. I want to share it. I want to point people to the Savior of our Souls, the Healer of our broken hearts, the Answer to all that we ever wanted or ever will want.
David understood. He said, "Oh taste and see that the LORD is good". It's as if he is pleading with us to experience God, like I did with my husband over dessert. CS Lewis understood, Our praise does complete our joy.
Then I remembered. Just a few months before even planning on going to Israel I had asked God one sincere question, “Will you teach me how to love you?” I knew that I was missing something. I loved God for what He had done for me...salvation, eternal life, the sacrifice He made for me to gain heaven... But I didn’t know how to really love the unseen, Holy God.
Through my trip to Israel, giving me an unsettled spirit, then fixing my eyes on Him....He answered and taught me how to love The Creator of the Universe just for who He is. He answered all of my prayers by revealing HIMSELF. He is a personal, compassionate and intimate God. Oh taste and see that He is good!
Yes...He is good,