Breathing in anticipation, the pearl gates open before your very eyes. The grand hall, surrounded with pillars of gold designed in intricate detail and the ceilings so high they reach infinitude. Tens upon thousands of angels surround, their voices harmonizing in perfect pitch as they reach a crescendo, singing
holy, holy, holy.
And there, in the very middle, was a throne of glorious splendor. No other human eye has ever taken in its wonder, and no human mind can ever comprehend how beautiful it is in its fullness.
With shaking knees, you lift your eyes to the One who sits on the throne; the One so wonderful that no word ever spoken will suffice to express how enchanting His beauty is. His appearance was like that of diamond and ruby, glimmering in all possible brilliance of the rarest jewels combined. White and red. Such purity. Such ferocity.
Your knees fall to the ground, your mind trying to fathom how you can even enter the presence of such holiness, such glory.
And this, this magnificence wrapped in splendor, in the form of Jesus, decided to leave this holy chamber to walk dusty streets, endure the harsh weather, and to live among broken, unworthy people.
The One who deserves nothing but praise was mocked, bruised, battered, pierced, spit on,
for our sake.
The One who has never known sin, the thing that hurts and angers Him most, took upon Himself the sins of every person who ever walked the planet – past, present, and future.
This King that leaves us breathless in worship and awe took our burdens.
And how we have taken that for granted.
Lost in chasing the American Dream, we have become cynical, doubting every good thing that comes our way and with it, doubting God and His heart for us. We have become so caught up in our daily lives and work that we forget to appreciate the wonder of what is eternal.
As David Jeremiah once wrote, we have become a generation characterized not by awe, but by cynicism and empty nihilism. Just as our capabilities have grown exponentially, our capacity for wonder seems to have withered. We have lost our childlike ability to be delighted and to trust.
I have read of a story of a man who trekked for a month from Myanmar to Hyberabad to attend a missionary school. There is a leper community in India who built a church for themselves, carrying the heavy bricks with their fingerless hands. Christians in communist nations are martyred daily for their faith, and they do so joyously. They do so because in spite of lack of religious freedom in their countries, they have found spiritual freedom. They do so because they know how amazing their God is, and that this God is worth their whole lives.
How could we have lost this?
We have gotten so busy with the Kingdom that we forgot about the King.
“The world is not lacking in wonders, but in a sense of wonder.”
The Bible always tells us to remember. Paul has made it a point to remind the people what Jesus has done, and he kept repeating this all throughout the books. In Revelation, Jesus repeatedly tells the seven churches to remember what they have known, to hold on to their first love. Yet somehow, it is this we have forgotten.
See, if we allow this truth to seep under our skin and deep into our hearts, then we would all be living lives of full surrender and endless joy. Because what other response does the phenomenon of what Christ has done for us invoke other than worship and wonder? But as we have dwelled too much on what is of this world, on what is before us, we have forgotten what Jesus has declared finished. We have forgotten true worship.
We have confined worship to the slow song during service, or to the idea that worshipping makes us feel good and fulfilled. But no, worship to its very core is about giving.
When we go back to the first time the word worship was used in the Bible, it was used when Abraham was going to the mountain to sacrifice Isaac. In Genesis 22:5, Abraham says “Stay here with the donkey while the boy and I go over there. We will worship.”
The night before, God told Abraham to give up his only son, the son he has waited a hundred years for. And how does Abraham respond? He didn’t dilly dally, he didn’t ask God why, he didn’t try to find a loophole. The very next morning, he woke up early, took the boy up to the mountain, and called it worship.
Abraham was able to do this because he understood. He understood that he had a God who kept His promises; a God who was faithful; the God who created everything before him and gave him everything he had. And so he was prepared to give everything he had, everything he held dear, back to the One who gave it. He understood that this God, no matter what happens, is enough. Even in pain, even in sacrifice, his adoration was constant because he knew that in spite of everything, God remains constant.
“I want Him to have the very best of my attention, the very deepest of my sacrifice, the most profound of my music…”
That is worship.
It is pursuing God like a dying man in the desert pursues water. It is understanding that He is our lifeline and that He is our very lives. It is trusting that even if we don’t know what happens next, we will go where God has asked us to go. It is knowing that true worship means sacrifice, and like King David said in 2 Samuel 24:24, there is no point in a sacrifice which costs nothing.
Worship is living out the fact that because the King who spoke into existence the galaxy could give up heaven to place Himself on the altar for our sins, we can place that which is heaven to us on the altar too.
So stop making Jesus convenient. Yes, He is our best friend. But stop cutting him down to our size. Remember who He truly is. He is the Alpha and Omega, the Lamb who was slain, the One with eyes like blazing fire and voice like rushing waters.
Love Him for who He is, not for what He can give you.
And when you do you will realize… Who are we in light of Him? We are but tiny, tiny creatures. Dust on our way to ashes. So undeserving. And yet so adored.
Doesn’t that make your heart leap right out of your chest? Doesn’t that make you fall to your knees in awe? Doesn’t that melt away your cynicism, refresh your heart, and make you feel like a child again? Don’t lose that awe. Don’t lose that heart. Don’t apologize for the way your eyes can’t seem to stop sparkling. Allow it to penetrate deep into you and transform you from the inside out.
Far too many Christians are known for their sullenness. Be known for your joy. Be known for your worship.
“When you speak of Heaven, let your face light up, let it be irradiated with a heavenly gleam, let your eyes shine with reflected glory.”
Look at what you’re grasping so tightly in your hand right now, at that one thing you can’t seem to give up; the pessimism you find difficult to let go of. And then gaze into the eyes of wondrous grace and undeserved favor; lift your own to the heavens and realize that the Artist who painted the sky, the Designer who put the stars into place, and the Sculptor who shaped your very being loves you and actually gave Himself up for you… Is it still worth it? Isn’t He worthy of all of us?
Jesus, alone, is far more than enough.