Someone once said, commenting on the beautiful life of Rich Mullins, that "he was a man that explored the deep places of God, and then came back to tell us all what he saw." Andrea and I recently ventured to the end of the world, "onde a terra se acaba, e o mar começa." (where the land ends, and the sea begins). Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of Europe is a wild place, where ripping winds never cease, and staggering cliffs challenge the daring to step to close. Raw power whips around you from all directions, overwhelming sense, emphasizing frailty. Death and life are separated only by a step, merely a thought. Firm ground is little comfort in such a place.
Crawling along the edges of that alien world, my gaze was continually drawn to the immeasurable horizon of the sea. I could feel the maritime pull, the desire to be a part of the raw, savage power which defines that realm. Off in the distance, majestically forging order and path through the chaos, a lone vessel tested its merit against the barbarity. A lone island of safety amongst the.... whoops, the necessity of proper foot placement soon overruled any fantastical notions of seagoing adventures. (The dawn treader will have to wait).
Infinite thoughts inevitably lead to infinite thoughts (Oh so profound). While trying to take in the beauty, and not fall into the sea while doing it, I couldn't get that quote about Rich Mullins out of my head. The sea seems endless, but God is. Is it possible to go too far with God? Could it be that there are parts of God that he hasn't been able share with us? Is it possible to sacrifice too much for God? What does it take?
Our worship songs are littered with deep phrases such as, "I surrender all," "I need you more... more than the air I breathe," and "you're all I want, you're all I need." We would all most certainly answer with the easy, "we can never go too far with God," and "there is definitely no sacrifice too great for him," but how many of us are willing to pay the price to delve into those depths. A few of Jesus' friends asked him if they could sit at his right and left in his kingdom, to be close to him, to be significant. What was Jesus' response? "You don't know what you're asking.. can you drink the cup I drink?" Real sacrifice, and absolute commitment were, and are still required.
God knows something very important; in order for us to be able to step into deeper relationship with him, we ourselves have to change. He's not putting up arbitrary barriers between us and his presence as if our pursuit of him were some cosmic game. No, we have to have eyes to be able to see, hearts to understand. Remember the centurion who asked Jesus to come heal his servant. Jesus was plum content to walk on down to the man's house to heal the servant, live and in person, but that's not what happens. The centurion's eyes were open to be able to see a previously unknown element of the authority and nature of Jesus. He doesn't have to be physically present to heal, his authority and power transcends physical barriers. The centurion's faith allowed this new knowledge to be unlocked for all mankind to experience. We must be changed; we aren't able to properly experience and understand until we do. Lewis puts it like this, "How can [he] meet us face to face till we have faces?" We have to do whatever it takes to get closer to him. Any sacrifice, any change is worth it; any death pales in comparison to the presence of Jesus.
There are many paths that give us more solidity to stand close with Jesus: fasting, prayer, deeper community, consecration, service, vulnerability, scripture study, and the list goes on. But on the edge of that massive expanse of wind, sea, and sky, I realized I could never truly comprehend the sea from detached heights of theory, one step had to be put in front of the other until the impossible is seen with my own eyes, touched with my own hands, until the immersive redefining presence of Jesus gives me weight to be truly human.
Here we are, the edge of what we've experienced with God. Far below, the dark depths knock unceasingly on the bare rock cliffs, calling, beckoning. The next step is almost certain death; a plunge into the unknown, raw, untamable power of God. Shall we be defined by the barriers of those who've gone before us? Of what's been known? Or will we stand on their progress, consecrate more, sacrifice more, seek more, experience more?
What if? God is waiting...