I have come across an idea today that seems very unpopular and will no doubt rile some, but I still think it’s true nonetheless. Here’s what I believe: There are few who actually know the living God intimately, few who actually run after Him. Before you decide to stone me, please hear me out.
C.S. Lewis states in Mere Christianity, “If you want to get warm, you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet, you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.” Hebrew 12:29 and Deuteronomy 4:24 say, “God is a consuming fire.” A consuming fire! In Exodus 19, God came near to the Israelites, set the mountain ablaze and it terrified them to a point they did not want to come near it. They didn’t even want to hear Him speak from it. God, in all of His glory, came face-to-face with men and they begged Moses to speak to Him on their behalf. They missed the wonder of God because of their physical discomfort.
This is very telling of a very human reaction to our Creator. As God told Moses, “No man can see the face of God and live,” we can all be sure that to come very near Him is a painful thing, to see Him is a death sentence. We don’t willing approach pain often, and we definitely don’t embrace death. We are a very self-preserving people. The last thing we want to do is die, in any way. But to die by walking into a flame? That’s absurd! Why would anyone do it?
The painful truth is, many of us will settle for less than all of Him simply because that kind of pursuit is dangerous. We are sure to die. Our flesh will melt away at the awesome radiance that emanates from the throne of God. He told us so. But, He told us so! Why? Because somewhere out there, there’s someone crazy enough to approach that fire. The three Hebrew children walked right into it! Moses may have trembled like the rest, but he didn’t let human fear stop him from walking up to a burning bush or a burning mountainside. He was completely fanatical! Oh, but He was a friend of God! God made it very clear that Moses was intimate with Him. He said to Miriam and Aaron, “I speak to Moses face to face.” Moses came face to face with God. He came so close to the fire, he had to hide his face from the people lest the manifested glory of God harm them. Yes, Moses was crazy. But he was crazy for God, and God honored it.
If you want to know why I think most people will never experience this kind of relationship with God, here it is: It’s hard to die. Whether physically or just to flesh, most of us will not willingly surrender to death in pursuit of God. We in America are very comfortable in our lukewarm relationships with God, where we feel free to do and give as much or as little as we want, knowing that no matter what, we are still going to heaven so why get uncomfortable? Really, it’s unnecessary, right? Well, maybe. I mean, I don’t think you’ll miss heaven for being comfortable and complacent in your walk with God. I mean, your belief in Christ and your acceptance of grace and forgiveness is what qualifies you, right? There’s really no need to go deeper. Unless, of course, you want life more abundantly. Unless you want to fulfill your purpose for His glory. Unless you actually want to LIVE! Then, your complacency is more dangerous to you than approaching Him. The truth is, God is a fire. A deep relationship with Him will cost you something. In the least, it will cost you comfort. You will come to know discomfort in your flesh as you have never known it before. A rich, intimate relationship with God is uncomfortably lonely in the physical sense. It’s uncomfortably humbling. It’s uncomfortably self-denying. At the most, it is deadly. Your flesh will die. It will require so much more of you than you really want to give. But give it you must, if you want to really know Him. If you want to walk with Him. You must die. Like Christ, you must die in the flesh and be raised to new life in the Spirit. And because you are human, you must make that choice daily, to die and live in Him. It hurts, but it is so worth it!
How, you ask? Because when you truly come near God, you will be on fire! It excites me to know that to get to the Promised Land, I have to walk past Mount Sinai, that mountain on fire. I have to approach it. So do you. Tremble in fear, that’s okay. God only knows, you’re human. But don’t back away. Don’t beg Him to speak to you another way, lest you perish. God will preserve your spirit even as He destroys your flesh. Embrace it! Flesh will only hold you back. Flesh will cause you to fail. Flesh will rob you of your victory and your closeness to God. Let it go! Don’t back away. “Narrow is the road that leads to life and few find it.” That’s because few are willing to die in pursuit of Him. Father, let me know you in your fiercely burning flame. I surrender. I so desire to embrace You!