Spiritual Survival (Part 12)

Glimpses Into Greatness
by Rayola Kelley

Have you ever felt like something was floating on the outskirts of your understanding that would bring some type of illumination about God? You almost felt that you could reach out and touch it, yet it remained far enough from you that it was illusive. In your desire to grasp it, you sensed you were about to see something that would prove to be precious only to discover the limitations of your fleshly existence.

When I thought about writing this article, I encountered such an experience. I felt the Lord was trying to show me something, but when I went to peer around the corner of my human limitations, my spiritual eyesight seemed to fail me. Granted, I was not looking into the abyss of darkness, but there were no shadows or outlines to bring me any real sense of what was lurking beyond my present understanding. I did not feel that the precious truth was playing hide and seek with me, but I felt that just maybe I did not know what I was looking at according to my understanding. In a way, it is like what happened to the people in John 12:28-29. They heard the voice of God, but reasoned it to be thunder because they did not expect to hear from heaven.  Obviously, I would not know what I was looking for unless the Lord clearly unveiled it to me

As I meditated on the prospect of just how close heaven and eternity are, but how limited we are in seeing the glory and majesty of this unseen dimension, I realized that maybe that is what the Lord wanted me to see. God’s Word tells us we can only know in part and that we see through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:9 & 12). We are not only bound to this world that often influences what we know and experience, but we see through the veil of our flesh.Hebrews 10:20 actually makes reference to Jesus’ physical body as being a veil. Heaven and eternity exist on the other side of the very thin veil of our flesh, but nevertheless, we are separated from experiencing or knowing the reality of both. Both are contrary to the world we know, the fleshly ways we are bound to, and the fading glory attached to the reality around us.

Through the years I have become more aware that the real challenge for Christians is to find Christ in their present reality. Whether we live in the midst of abundance, drudgery, persecution, uncertainty, sorrow, and grave challenges, we must find Christ in it. This is the only way we can maintain a proper balance in our disposition, attitudes, and lifestyle, as well as come to a place of rest on the immovable Rock of heaven.

This brings me to a very important part of this article: our concept of God. Having a relationship with the living God is the only way we will see beyond the thin veil of our flesh to catch glimpses into that which is eternal. God is not only the present reality of the heavenly and eternal, but He is the essence of both. Heaven speaks of His incredible glory, while the eternal declares His very character. Without God there would be no heaven, and without God eternity would not be. Everything begins with the eternal God and will conclude with the unfolding glory of His heavenly abode.

Glimpses into the eternal were brought even more so to the limelight for me in a book called, Knothole Glimpses Of Glory. It is a book we had on our bookshelf for at least two decades. It was copyrighted in 1963.  Its subtitle is, Miraculous Manifestations of Heavenly Glory From Bethlehem to the City of Gold. The author paints an interesting picture of how God has given mankind glimpses into glory. Granted, we may see them through a small knothole of our flesh, but nevertheless, such glimpses have been provided, and through the eyes of faith, we can personally see and experience them. As a man named Geike reminds us, “It is not given to earth to have more than brief glimpses of Heaven.” As the Lord pointed out to Moses in Exodus 33:20 that if he saw the fullness of His glory, he would die. However, brief glimpses have been provided, and on Judgment Day man will be without excuse for his unbelief towards God.

As the Bible states, all of creation gives us small glimpses into the world beyond us. The unfolding heavens reveal the immeasurable vastness of God. The different dimensions of creation (there are eleven known dimensions according to a Prophecy in the News article), reveal to us the endless depth of His wisdom and ways. The mountains that reach high into the sky show adoration towards our Creator, the canyons that plunge deep into the earth reveal how far He will reach to touch the depth of man’s own soul, the trees remind us of the constant praise that reaches beyond the base world, the flowers His beauty, the crops His provision, the deserts His hidden treasure, and the oceans His power. Clearly, creation offers such glorious glimpses into the unseen realm. If only we would adhere to its continual examples. It is for this reason that the Bible tells us only a fool will say in his heart there is no God (Psalm 14:1; Romans 1:20).

The question is can we personally see God’s glory today? We must have the eyes of faith to see God’s glory in His Word, but it takes humility to see personal glimpses into the glory of the unseen. Humility only comes when one has a sense of God’s greatness and holiness in lieu of his or her smallness. To see glimpses into glory one must be prepared to feel totally undone by the majesty of an eternal God. Every glimpse will reinforce one’s smallness in light of God’s greatness. As so eloquently put by A. W. Tozer, the problem today is that people have made God too small. In summation, they have brought Him down to their level so they can become familiar with Him according to their understanding. In fact, so much of how Jesus is being presented is according to the world’s idea of what constitutes greatness. However, we do not have to puff Jesus up to some status to magnify His Name; rather, we have to simply believe what the Word says about Him. In other words, He stands great because He is great. As humans, we must not bring Him down to our level in order to exalt Him to some type of greatness that we can abide or agree with. Rather, we must strive to raise our thoughts or ideas of Him to that which has already been established by His Word. As the Bible states, His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9).

I say all of this because the world is greatly influencing Christians’ ideas of greatness. The world’s concept is to look for great men. It even provides certain arenas in which this so-called “greatness” can be exalted. The reason for this is because it is the actual idea of great men that make the world appear great. For example, consider how athletes make a particular sport or event desirable and great to the masses. People pay to see the athlete they admire most, or the team that has earned their loyalty. It is the idea of greatness that makes the things and activities of the world attractive and great to the onlooker. The world rewards such greatness with titles and trophies, but without displays of greatness there would be no real attraction to entangle people into a false idea of what constitutes genuine accomplishments of importance. Without the greatness or distinction of people in certain arenas, the world would have no contrast or means to offer the masses any form of prominence that could be found and admired by them.

The world’s idea of greatness is based either on sentimental hogwash or on an image that has no real substance behind it. The world must constantly puff up the idea of greatness because there is nothing that simply stands great.

Sadly, this is what some Christians are doing with God. They are trying to develop an arena in which God can be made to look great. They sentimentally lift Him up on some worldly altar that makes Him unique and then they strive to encourage others to see Him as being great. Once again, God is great. He does not need an arena or an altar. He does not need to be lifted up for He already has been lifted up on a wooden altar for all to see. He does not need a title, He is the Title of all that constitutes holiness, goodness, and justice. He does not have to prove Himself worthy of recognition for He is already worthy. He does not have to prove His intentions, for He stands as the loving proof of all that is dear, honorable, and worthy of consideration.

This brings us to the next problem. It has to do with worship and service. If we believe God to be small, our worship of Him will be small and our service anemic. A. W. Tozer points out that we worship God according to our concept of Him. Our concept of God will determine our attitude towards Him, our approach, and the seriousness of our commitment, affecting the integrity of service.

The question is how do each of us approach God? How we approach God comes down to our concept and practice of religion. For example, religion that is fleshly is paganism; man-centered is humanism; metaphysical is New Age; pursuing hidden knowledge is occultism, and operating according to Spirit and truth is Christianity. Except for the last response, every other religious practice will demote, humanize, spiritualize, and redefine God, while giving way to fleshly appetites, deifying man, emphasizing spiritual experiences, and exalting occult knowledge as being elite and supreme.

In next month’s article I will deal with the different approaches to religion, but I want to once again come back to the knothole glimpses of glory. I was present when a message from God stated to the church that if God’s people did not come higher in Him, they would be consumed by the darkness coming upon the face of the world. Clearly, the message was serious and heart wrenching.

The Lord has given everything to us that pertains to life and godliness. We do not have to be consumed by the darkness of the age regardless of how thick and challenging it may prove to be. However, we cannot receive the great things of heaven unless we become humbled by the reality of how small and base we are in the matters of eternity. We must become sober and vigilant about the times we live in, as well as keenly aware of our vulnerable state without the abiding intervention of God upon our lives. We must learn what it means to walk in light of the glory of the next world instead of the temporary glory of the present one. We must not settle for simply peering around the various religious corners in the hope of seeing something that will make us feel good about our religious status; rather, we must strive to look for those small knotholes so that we can peer into His glory, knowing that we will be changed from glory to glory until we awake in His glorious likeness (Psalm 17:15; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18).

As this article comes to a close, I realize that the people of faith in Hebrews 11 peered through the knotholes of glory. In a sense, they were being consumed by it. As a result, they were more interested in obtaining a better resurrection than the riches and prestige of the present world. They were ready to be misunderstood, despised, and persecuted. They were willing because they knew they were preparing for the next world, while being consumed by the promising reality that in the final stages the world would not be worthy to even witness the fruits and result of their walk of faith.

In the end, may that be said of you and of me.