Last night my husband took me out for supper. On the way home he said we had one stop to make. We were nearly home but he turned right instead of left and took me to a long wooden stairway. We climbed the stairs to a hill that is higher than the rooftops of all the houses in the city — and we stood there and watched the sunset.
This happened because of two jars in our kitchen. One is filled with pieces of paper with single words on each. They are prompts for a surprise or an event or something to do that keeps us from getting in a rut. He explained that his word for this month was “sunset” and he’d been watching for the right time to do this. His choice could not have been better. The sunset was amazing with color on every point of the horizon in front of us and behind. It was magical, grand in scale yet intimate for us, even out in a public place and on the highest hill for miles. The combination of ah, aw, and awe as perfect.
In today’s devotional reading, the author quotes the scene in The Wind in the Willows where Rat and Mole experience an encounter with “the Holy.” The description is an allegory but it brings home the idea of having an intimate relationship with God and yet being in awe at the wonder of who He is.
In the story, Mole asked Rat if he was afraid, and Rat said, “Afraid! Of Him? Oh never, never! And yet — and yet — oh, Mole, I am afraid!” And the two of them crouched to the earth, bowed their heads, and worshiped.
My experience with a sunset and with sweet thoughtfulness is a small foretaste and example of how God created us so we can love Him and crawl up on His lap — yet at the same time be filled with an overwhelming sense of wonder, even fear, at His glory.
In the revelation of Jesus Christ, John had this experience . . . “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, ‘Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.’” (Revelation 1:17–18)
How can I describe this intimacy and fear? It is being in the horrible and almighty presence of the One who created the universe and who holds the power of life and death in His hands. Out of His mouth comes thunder and out of His eyes judgment. Yet as I tremble, He hugs me close to His heart and gives me that peace that passes understanding, a sense of quiet in the fear that is beyond comprehension.
Sometimes I can seek and find this, perhaps at church with a worshiping congregation, or in my prayer time, or alone in the trees and the sunlight. Sometimes it happens when trials are at a maximum and I feel as if I will drown or die under them. Sometimes it is so unexpected that there is nothing to explain it except that He decides to be here, right now, and in that revealing of Himself, I see both the grand of who He is, and the tenderness of His heart — both at the same time.
Like John, I fall at my feet and He puts His hand on me and says, “Fear not . . . .” and I am afraid and yet not the slightest bit afraid.