Last week, I was incredibly blessed to spend some time in Colorado Springs for a training and equipping event at Focus on the Family headquarters. The most breathtaking of settings were the backdrop for the most sobering of national issues. It is encouraging to know that there is a great host of engaged leaders truly making a cultural impact throughout our land with the help of a God who is mighty and true! Heading back to the venue after lunch one day I was sitting beside my new friend Tom Minnery, a giant of national leaders and one of the most gracious and Godly I have been blessed to meet.
We were chatting about the landscape around us and of course grandkids when it occurred to me… Hey my flight is tomorrow, I better get my boarding pass! We continued the conversation as I navigated Southwest’s website and prepared myself for the exact (24 hours before my departure) moment in time when I could download my boarding pass. “Oh please let me get in A Group, oh please let me get in A Group.”
The tension mounted and Tom and I watched as I hit the infamous “submit” button on the sites page and presto… B Group again! What? Oh no, how can this be? I hit the cotton picking button at exactly the right time! Right then and there while in the shadow of Pikes Peak I came face to face with the 30,000 ft perspective of God. He sees it all and he knows what is best for me! My wants, my needs are two different things. My plans, God’s plans are two different things.
The scriptures are ripe with face to face encounters with God… for example, Adam & Eve, knew God’s blessings and experienced Gods cursing. Nebuchadnezzar feeling he had no need for God was quickly reminded by years of living off the grass of the field that God is God! Jonah tried unsuccessfully to run from God only to come to terms in a very nautical sense! Elijah, when called to stand in the most challenging of times prayed fire from heaven. One of the greatest God encounters recorded for us in scripture takes place in Isaiah chapter 6. “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple.
Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke. So I said: “Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal, which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your iniquity is taken away, and your sin purged.” Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying: “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.” And He said, “Go, and tell this people:”
Three important things happen when we truly encounter God… First, it exposes us… no masks, no pretending. That’s often why man hides from God. We don’t want him to see the real us! Secondly, it exposes the culture around us. Our airbrushed culture becomes unvarnished and the reality of where we truly are steps forward. We see the world around us like Jesus sees the world around us. Lastly, It calls us to action… we act, we go, we do, we engage.
Here’s what I always found strange about this encounter… “Then I head the voice of the Lord saying who shall I send, and who will go for us” God asks a question? Why? You see, sending and going are two different things. It is the old choice, which still is presented to every soul; the old crisis, which reappears in every experience. Caesar, or Christ, that is the question: the vast, attractive, skeptical world, with its pleasures and ambitions and its prodigal promise, or the meek, majestic, and winning figure of Him of Nazareth? The election remains for each of us. And the moment of the election, in the shaded and solemn “Valley of Decision,” will be memorable in our history, when suns for us have ceased to shine! As in Isaiah’s day it is in ours… Sending and going are two different things. With all we know, with all we see and with where God has planted us historically and geographically what are we to do? Well here is my observation, we are all in A Group… we get a front seat for this flight we call life. Let’s do it right!
Throckmorton is the pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville.