Infinite Beauty/Running from God
“…In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11
“Jonah rose up to flee …from the presence of the Lord” Jonah 1:3
A man of enormous wealth died without known heirs. He had searched the country for years prior to his dying for a surviving relative to whom he could bequeath his vast fortune; it was a futile search. His will provided instructions for his attorney to continue the search after he died.
A few months afterwards, a distant relative was discovered. He lived in poverty and squalor, and was eking out an existence doing odd jobs. He lived foolishly and handled his meager finances irresponsibly. His indebtedness grew daily, and he hopelessly attempted simply to survive each day.
The attorney wrote a letter to the relative with the good news that he was heir to an immense fortune. An inheritance was his for the taking. The attorney asked for a meeting with the young man to formalize the transaction which would instantly transform him into wealthy man.
By this time in his life, the young man had become cynical and suspicious. He did not believe in fairy godmothers or distant, wealthy relatives. As far as he knew, no one had ever cared what happened to him, and he had no vain hopes that life would ever be anything more for him than it was: a grim fight to make it each day, with no expectation of any change for the better or anything good to occur in his life. Life for him was merely survival. It was joyless and hopeless; it was futile and desperate. Based on his past experience with his selfish and untrustworthy companions, the offer contained in the attorney’s letter had to be, at best, a lie and a scam, and, at worst, a trap to bring him to justice for one of his past crimes. Why would anyone do anything good for him? He decided the best course of action was to ignore the letter and to trust no one. He retreated into the shabby, filthy parts of the city where no one knew him and he attempted to hide.
The lawyer was persistent in carrying out the dead man’s wishes. He followed a lead and found his man’s deserted apartment in disarray, with all the marks of a person who had left in a hurry; there were unpaid bills on the countertop and tepid milk and soggy cereal in a bowl on the kitchen table. The young man had left the city. Acting on a warning that the hunter was near, the hunted had fled to an area 300 miles to the west.
Not easily deterred, the attorney continued his search; finally, nine years after the old man’s death and four cities later, the lawyer saw his man coming out of a soup kitchen. The formerly young man was now graying and unkempt. He was gaunt, haggard and dressed in rags. He was tired of life and weary of running. He was destitute and did not care whether he lived or died.
The attorney, upon recognizing the man, immediately ordered his assistant to corner his prey, which was accomplished with hardly a whimper; the now not-so-young man was hardly in a position to run or resist. He was weak and sickly, and more importantly, he had lost any will to survive. He did not care anymore.
Imagine the captured man’s surprise when the attorney explained to him that the letter was a true and accurate representation of the facts, and that, indeed, the fugitive was now a rich man. He had been running from his riches for years, not even believing that they existed, or even in such a possibility. He had been running from a supposed enemy when all the time his pursuer was his benefactor, attempting to heap on him all manner of goodness. In the running, the man had deprived himself of years of wealth, comfort, and peace, and in exchange, had gained for himself a life of poverty, distress, and unrest. As he settled into his new position in life, he often reproached himself for his folly all those wasted years. Yet, time healed his wounds, and he lived many years in a state of happiness and gratitude, dying as an old man after a full life.
You and I are much like the young man in the story. We run from God until we realize how infinitely good and beautiful he is. We mistakenly think he is our enemy, when he pursues us with only the best intentions to bless us. God is the giver of every good gift and every good thing in life; we often prevent him from bestowing these gifts on us because we are running away from him as fast as we can, thinking he might harm us.
ATTRACTED TO GOD
Look at the two columns of words below. To which column are you attracted?
Truth (Absolute and Ultimate) Lies; Relative or No Truth
Absolute Faithfulness/Loyalty Faithlessness
Unending Pleasure Unending Pain
Most people are naturally drawn and attracted to the first column of words and the ideas they represent. Very few would honestly say that they desire the ideas represented by the right column.
If you say you are drawn to the left column of ideas, then you are attracted to God himself. He is a God of infinite beauty and absolute truth. His love for you and me is pure, untainted by selfishness, and always looking to our good; his love is sacrificial, and he proved it when he gave his only Son, Jesus, to die for sinful people on the cross. He loved first and took the initiative. He loves unconditionally and accepts those who place their trust in Jesus; we do not and cannot earn his love by our performance, but, instead, he gives it to us freely.
God is utterly and perfectly good and righteous. He is kind and forgiving. He is faithful and trustworthy. You can depend on him always. He gives life in every area; he is the creator of your life, and he knows what you need to live life well and to the fullest. He is light itself and by coming into a personal relationship with him, we no longer stumble and bounce around life aimlessly with no direction or purpose. He offers forgiveness of our sins and our failures. He gives unending and real pleasure; he gives true joy and peace which cannot be taken away. Life lived in the presence of God is full of pleasure beyond thought or words.
So, why do we think we need to run from God? God is what you and I have been looking for all our lives. He is the answer to our need for rest, peace, and fulfillment. He is better than we even dare to imagine; many have despaired that a God this good could not exist. He is better to us than we deserve. He is infinitely better to us than he needs to be. In the presence of God are pleasures and riches beyond our wildest imagination. Why do we run?
We are all children of Adam and Eve. The Bible tells us that God created them to live in a loving relationship with him. God gave them a life of infinite goodness; they lived in the garden of Eden, a garden of perfection and beauty. However, because they did not really trust God, and they thought he was holding back something good from them, they disobeyed God’s one law given to them. This breaking of God’s law offended God; it was rebellion against God, who loved them and made all things perfect for them. (When we disobey God and rebel against him, it shows we really do not believe that God is good, and we think he is keeping something good from us.) Any disobedience or rebellion against God’s standard or command is sin. After they sinned in the garden of Eden, they tried to hide from God because they realized they were guilty of offending him. They were now afraid of him. Their relationship with God was broken, and their paradise was ruined. The sin of Adam and Eve resulted in death at every level, for them and for us.
We, the descendants of Adam and Eve, have inherited sin and death from them. We are all born sinners, and we sin because we are sinners. The Bible tells us that all have sinned; in other words, every one of us has disobeyed God, rebelled against God, and offended God. Sin and death are pervasive, and they affect every aspect of our lives, including our bodies, our minds, our wills, our emotions, and our spirits. Sin and death ruin our relationships with God and people. Because of our distorted thinking and perverted hearts, our natural inclination is to hide or run from God, despite the deep-down knowledge that God is who we need. So, we would rather die than go to God. We are intent on self-destruction. We are afraid of him because we know we are guilty and unworthy of him. We are even afraid to think an infinitely good and forgiving God might exist, so we deceive ourselves with a web of intricate and incredible lies. We despair of finding what we need to really live.
WHO ARE YOU? WHO DO YOU WANT TO BE?
Now, look at the following columns of words. Which column describes you best? Which column of words contains the qualities you would you like to see in yourself?
Joy Misery, cynicism, sorrow, sadness
Peace Restlessness, anxiety, worry
Kindness, gentleness Harshness
Self-control Uncontrolled outbursts of anger
Generosity, selflessness Selfishness
Freedom Bondage to habits, sin, or addictions
Forgiveness Bitterness, vengefulness
Courage Cowardice, Fear
Nobility Depravity, coarseness, crudeness, vulgarity
Truthfulness Deceit, lying
A clear conscience A guilty conscience
Acceptance, approval Rejection and judgment
Hope, expecting good Hopelessness, depression and despair
Almost everyone would love to possess the qualities listed on the left. Then, why do so few of us possess them? Many have given up. Many do not know how to have them. Some have rejected them.
Would you like to know the God who made you and knows you better than you know yourself? He is able to make you into the person you want to be, the person described by the character traits in the first column above. He will give you life; Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life and have it more abundantly”. He gives life that is real and better than you can imagine. It is life that is deep, solid and objective, rooted in eternal reality, and therefore, satisfying; there is nothing artificial or superficial about it. What would you give to know that you are accepted and approved by God, the maker of the universe? If that were true, you would not mind if you were rejected by others; some of you have known little but rejection all your lives. Would you like to know that God himself forgives you? Only his forgiveness can give you a clean conscience; he rids us of our guilt and our guilty feelings.
Do you want true freedom? Do you want purpose and direction in life? Don’t you really know that you were made for something great? Do you ever feel like you are spending your life on trivial pursuits? Life is not for wasting and time is not for killing. Filling our lives with empty pursuits or boredom-killing anesthetics is not living. God has not made you and me simply to survive, endure, and exist; God made humans for greatness and virtue. Would you like to live with purpose and significance? Do you want to live with courage and confidence? Do you want to be a person whose life is actually described by the words in the first column?
God is able and willing to make you new. He changes people, and he can and will change you.
STOP RUNNING–COME TO GOD
Adam and Eve tried to hide from God. Jonah tried to run from God. People have been hiding and running ever since. How about you? Are you tired of running and hiding? God offers you life. God is not your enemy; he offers to give you infinite goodness. He wants you to come running to him. He will not make you come, though he could; he wants you to come because you realize you need him and want him, and to come because you love him.
God offers you the free gift of life and forgiveness; he offers himself for intimate relationship as your Father and your God. He offers all this without cost to you. You cannot pay for it. Jesus has already paid the price to make this all possible, and you can add nothing to it. To attempt to do so would sully it and demean it; what would you think if you gave a gift to someone and he then pulled out his wallet to pay you for it? You must simply receive the gift as you would any gift.
Jesus is God’s Son and he came to die for sinners like you and me; he came to give life. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but by me.” Jesus is the only way to God and life, and he offers all to us as a free gift.
Run to God. You were made for him, and you were made to live with him now, day by day, and eternally with him in heaven. He is Beauty, Truth, Goodness, Life, and Light. He will forgive you and accept you. The emptiness in your life will never be filled until you allow God to fill it, and then you will wonder how you ever lived without him. Only he can satisfy your deepest thirst and longings for the life you have never found.
These verses from Revelation give a taste of what heaven will be like:
“They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; neither shall the sun beat down on them, nor any heat; for the Lamb (Jesus) in the center of the throne shall be their shepherd, and shall guide them to springs of the water of life; and God shall wipe every tear from their eyes.” Rev.7:16,17
“And he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb (Jesus), in the middle of its street. And on either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and His bond-servants shall serve Him; and they shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads . And there shall no longer be any night; and they shall not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God shall illumine them; and they shall reign forever and ever.” Rev.22:1-5
Doesn’t this word picture reflect your deepest longing? Heaven is a place where people spend eternity in God’s presence, basking in his Infinite Beauty and Goodness. Preparation for heaven begins here on earth; people like you and me can know God and enjoy his presence now. Now, God will begin to give you the fullness of life and joy you were created for. Heaven will complete the process.
God is pursuing you for your good. He loves you. Stop hiding and running. Receive his goodness. You will be surprised.
God invites you. Yes, you.
“And the Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.” Revelation 22:17
Jesus said, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Come to Jesus.
If you would like to know how to come to Jesus, see The Ultimate Solution.
Copyright 2008, Jerry A. Miller Jr. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute these articles with the conditions that there are no changes in wording and there is no charge.