We were two hours into our well-deserved family vacation en route to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee where we had rented a cabin for a couple of days. It had been two years since the last time we had taken a family vacation and with one of our boys gone to Germany for holiday; the remaining three of us didn’t hesitate to get away once the days were cleared in our calendars.
My husband had one rule for the road trip; we are not allowed to spend every moment on the phone! We instead listen to music, had good conversations, and took many photos of the beautiful scenery (those will undoubtedly be deleted later given that the car was going too fast to get a clear shot). It’s amazing how getting away lifts your spirit! My mind was full of ideas for new articles I planned to write during our stay in the beautiful Smoky Mountains of Tennessee…The idea was for my husband and my son to go out during the day and have fun at some attractions in the area, while I remain in the cabin having a much needed time of relaxation by reading, praying, studying and working on my writing. I couldn’t wait to get there! And obviously neither did my son…
“Are we there yet?” My son asked glancing at the time on his phone, “It feels like is taking longer than 3 hours to get there!” We were using our GPS unit for directions and apparently there had been roadwork done recently and the route had been changed…We were lost! I suggested stopping to ask for directions but the temperature in the car rose a few degrees as I sensed a fiery glance coming from the drivers seat…I put on my headphones and quietly read my book, while my husband re-calibrated the route on his phone to get us back on track. It took a while but eventually we got there. Of course, if he’d ask for directions we would have gotten there sooner but oh well…
After making a quick stop at the registration office; we were on our way up the mountain to our little cabin. My husband mentioned it was the very last cabin on the little road; sort of away from it all. I liked that; no one around to interrupt me, and blissful silence! Blissful until he mentioned it was the perfect location for an axe murderer to hide out! “WHAT?” “Are you for real? Of course, I knew he was joking, so I just let him have his fun. My son said; “mom, I don’t think you should stay in the cabin alone all day, the axe murderer might get you.” Then my husband (did I mention he is a minister?) made up some story about some family disappearing while vacationing in the area and that I do need to make sure I keep the doors locked, etc… I knew both of them were set on trying to scare me but, really? Why do people do that? I gave them an un-amused grin and as we put our things in the cabin, I made sure I wasn’t the last one in. You know, just in case…
If you’ve ever gone camping into the woods or stayed at a cabin in the mountains, the first thing you notice is how quiet and serene the atmosphere is all around. You’ve also noticed that when night falls, the darkness magnifies a hundredfold; there are sounds you just never hear in the city! The next morning, after the guys left, I found myself alone in this wonderful-quiet and detached place. I suddenly began to wonder if I had enough reception to dial 911 should someone try to capture me. I didn’t want to admit it, but I was a little nervous about being there all by myself. I locked all the doors and sat in front of my laptop to work on some articles I wanted to write. I made sure the music I was listening to was loud to keep me distracted from looking out the windows. Just then it hit me!
I had been praying (in preparation for the weekend) that God would speak to me in the strangest and simplest of ways. I was listening to a song entitled; Captured by Natalie Grant (from the Awaken Album), when the thought occurred to me; my fear of being captured is so ridiculous, and yet it caused me to lock myself inside this cabin not wanting to experience all the beauty around. Hum…I can remember many times in my life where God showed up ready to capture my heart and I pulled away from Him ignorant of what I was rejecting. Is funny how we are so willing to spend money to attend conferences and retreats, seeking a unique experience with God, and yet struggle to pick up our bible daily to hear from him or fail to bend our knee to pray at home. The thing about us is that we are easily influenced, distracted and persuaded to seek God a certain way or in a certain place, but we fail to understand that God cannot be boxed in. He shows up in the most inopportune times; when we least expected it, least deserve it, and least appreciate it. What if I open myself to experience God without limitations? What if I remove the boundaries? What then will happen to my desires and dreams? How then will I live my life? How would my daily conversations go? And what decisions will I make that will undoubtedly impact my life and that of those around me?
I recently heard a preacher whose been in the ministry longer than I have been alive, telling a story about a time when he needing a touch from God about a certain situation, so he did what most people do; went running to the next big revival in the area, seeking that special touch from God. Nothing happened! Then he went to a meeting where people like Oral Roberts and other great ministers would be at and he thought to himself; “Surely I will get a great touch from God today!” Nothing happened! He sought out meetings where ministers who were well known for having a prophetic gift would be, so he would get his special touch from the Lord, but nothing happened. Then it occurred to him one day, that the special something he had been seeking from the Lord was right before his eyes all along but he was just too busy seeking “a touch” that he missed the one who performs the miracles.
Oh to be captured by God!
I sit here sensing His presence and thinking about what I consider to be one of the saddest passages in the scriptures. It is found in Exodus 20: 18-21 (New Living translation).
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear. And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!” As the people stood in the distance, Moses approached the dark cloud where God was.
What would cause a people who have experienced the great miracles and works of God first hand, to shy away and reject meeting Him in all His glory? Do you know what bliss feels like? I don’t! I cannot even try to describe it because I have nothing to draw from. I have tried hopelessly to imagine being in the very physical and palpable presence of God and I should guess it would be blissful. To be that close to getting a glimpse of God’s unimaginable face and walk away seems tragic to me. What a sad shame! How differently would things have turn out for these people if they had allowed themselves to be completely captured by God?
To be captured by God, we must put aside our fears and unlock the doors, pull up the blinds and open the curtains. We must open ourselves to His will and not our own. And above all things, when he calls we must answer and trust Him enough to let Him into all areas of our lives. I may never truly know all there is to know about God, but I for one, live seeking His face; yearning to be overwhelmed by His embrace. I’m not just looking for a “touch”, I want it all! All of Him!