I woke up this morning and watched the sun rise at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, CO. It was my fifth sunrise this week, but the most exceptional, by far. It looked a lot like my image of God; vast, all-encompassing, warm. I could open up my Bible, and read a Psalm to the Lord in that moment, feeling a greater connection to Him than if I were sitting in my room at 2 p.m., trying to achieve the same effect.
I wake up early because I find God in sunrises. A placebo effect sets in and I believe that because I’m the first in my circle to appreciate the day, I’ve somehow set myself at an advantage for experiencing God.
I find the same thing in rules. I set extensive and intricate (and without-exception) rules for everyday life. They range from how I spend my mornings, who I spend my time with, when I can experience God, and what I’m allowed to invest in. I find my time with God more meaningful when I can set limits to how I will experience Him.
And this, this need for control, this need for “easy-access” of God is the problem. It’s wonderful when we can be in a moment and realize that we feel more connected to the Lord than we have in a while. It’s a breath of cool air to understand more about His desires than we did before. Yet, we do not find that because of rules or because of sunrises or because of a community of people. God can be elucidated in those moments; but, he is not those moments.
My rules can keep me from experiencing God. They stand right in front of Jesus, molded to look like our Savior, and yet so far from Him. They are unrelenting, instead of warm. They are harsh, instead of gracious. And unlike Him, they can be wrong. When I go to my rules instead of Jesus for my reasoning (“No thank you, because…”), I mold my life to my will. If I am to truly experience the truth of God, I cannot just apply his rules. I must apply Jesus HIMSELF to every situation.
“So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the woks of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” Galatians 2:16
So now, I thank God for mornings, but let myself sleep in. I rejoice when I’m around my best friends, but am okay being alone. My life looks very similar to before, but now I have a lot less rules, and a lot more prayer. I pray continuously that my desire for control does not confine Jesus. I thank Jesus for being in moments, but I do not rely on those moments for Jesus. God is easily accessible, but not controllable. He can be found anywhere; He is not confined by my comfortable experiences.
“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19