Above and below me, before and behind me, in every eye that sees me, Christ be all around me. These are the beautiful words from a song by Leeland that I recently heard at a Michael W Smith concert. Doesn’t that just say it all?
Our Lord and savior is everything. He is above all and before all. He isn’t the first thing, He is EVERYTHING. He is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, and everything in between. Christ be all around me. That is my prayer.
God, the Father is benevolent, merciful, and compassionate yet He is all-powerful, and just. He is in all things and over all things.
For the past few years, God has ignited a fire within me that I cannot quench. He has been filling me with His grace, goodness, and the power of His Word. I have been absolutely raw to receiving more of Him with eagerness and anticipation. Sometimes all that I can see is Him, and He is beautiful, and He is enough.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” Ephesians 3:20
At 42, sometimes I ask myself, ‘what have I been doing all my life? Why has it taken me so long to see how big and beyond measure God is?! What has kept me blind all these years to a God that ached with love for me? How did I not see? How did I not know? How did I not hear? Why did I not listen?
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God.” Isaiah 40:28
How many time have you heard someone say, ‘I was raised in a Christian home’? Many of us have said and heard that. It is the story of the lives of numerous Americans. I, too, grew up in a Christian home. My family was heavily involved in a church, yet my mind wasn’t really renewed (Romans 12:12), and my eyes weren’t opened (Psalm 119:18), and I did not seek to partake of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). I was a Christian, but I wasn’t sold out to Christ.
So, the question crossed my mind; can a young person have a deep relationship with the heavenly Father and an understanding of how great He is? Can a teenager live like Christ is their everything? Can someone grasp the difference between the things of this world and the things of an all-powerful and mighty God while they are still young? Can a young person have right priorities; God first, and then everything else? Or, do we, as humans, have to go through 30 years of life before we can grasp the enormity of the things of God? That is my question.
If I think about those questions through the lens of what I know about God, my answer would be yes, of course. God certainly would give us the ability to see truth at any age. We are His creation. It seems to me that truth would be a more natural part of us than the ways of the world. Because we were created by God in His likeness. So, where do things go wrong? Where do we stop believing in true things and start believing the lies of this world? Where or when did we fall asleep?
I am sadly aware that most people probably never see a God bigger than their church building. To us, God is as big as we need Him to be. If we don’t need Him, he is not on our radar. If we are going through life and things are going pretty well, then we tend to compartmentalized Him. We don’t really need a big God so we put Him in the same category as family, jobs, health, school, and whatever else our lives consist of. The word, faith doesn’t mean much, and God is, for the most part, forgotten.
God is forgotten until the you-know-what hits the fan! Crisis hits and we are broken. We are stripped of everything that we love and hold dear. And all of a sudden, God is the only thing keeping us from falling into the abyss. He has to be bigger or we won’t make it.
As I look back on trials in my life, some very recent, I realize that I needed my God to be everything. I needed an ENORMOUS God. At some of the darkest times of my life I would picture myself dangling above a huge canyon or valley. The only thing keeping me from falling to my death was the mighty hand of God. And He never let go. He was big enough to single-handedly hold me and give me exactly what I needed. If He weren’t a big God, I wouldn’t have made it.
“Don’t tell God how big your storm is, tell your storm how big your God is”
So, why didn’t I get it that our God was so much bigger than we could ever think or imagine when I was young? Why did I have to wait until now to recognize how big our God is?
The verse, Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.,” comes to mind.
Are we training our kids up in the things of God? What are our priorities when it comes to our parenting? How are our kids going to see the importance of a God-centered life unless we show them?
Kids need to be told the truth of God before and above everything else . . . above their education, above sports, and above clubs and activities. Yes, I said it. God, and the teaching of His Word should come before education and sports.
Education can be an idol. Anything can be an idol when we put it before God. We think it noble when we spend so much of our time and energy lobbying for education reform and stressing about it. We have made education a God. Our schools cram more and more facts and figures into our kids’ schoolday than ever before. And our kids come home exhausted. And, after the school year is over, what have they learned that is eternal?
Sports and other activities can be an idol. Where is our time and energy spent? How many American families run around every afternoon and evening carting kids to this activity or that sport? How many of us have our weekends tied up by games and tournaments. Even our Sundays are filled.
When is church time? When is family time? When is the time we pass on our legacy of faith to the next generation?
The truth is, our kids aren’t going to ‘get it’ if we don’t make God number 1 in our homes. It starts with parents. Our children will see a small God if that is what we show them. And if we show them nothing at all about God, then they will live for the world. They may come to know the Lord when they are older or they may not. If God is not a priority to us, then He’s not going to be a priority to them.
The world speaks loudly to our kids. It speaks through absent fathers, broken families, and childhood abuses. The world speaks loudly through public schools, the media, and their peers. The world speaks loudly about the issues of pain, suffering, and morality and how to handle them. It is like the snake luring Eve to the forbidden fruit. And, they will listen to whoever is loud enough.
If the world is the only one speaking loudly to them, then the things of this world are what they will hear and learn.
So, the answer to my question of whether young people can see a big God depends on us. Will be speak louder in the name of Christ? Will we be bold and show the next generation that our God is more than enough?
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,” Ephesians 1:18