This blog is intended to supplement the book: Candle Drippings: Musings from My Mind and Other Itinerant Places. You may find many of those meditations helpful. If you are interested, you can check out the book at Amazon.com. Just type in the title to search for this inspiring book and read one or two of the reviews. Thanks bunches for your interest!
many of the members of the Order of the Arrow, a fraternity of campers within
the Boy Scouts, the Ordeal Ring at Worth Ranch was a sacred place. It holds many significant memories. There some members passed their own
"ordeals," their induction into the Order of the Arrow, and their
induction ceremony was in itself almost a religious experience, a sacred
thing. Not just anyone could actually
enter the Ring. It lay hidden in the
woods somewhere down in the "bottoms"; and unless you were a member
of the Order, you didn't even know where to find it. Rock walls guarded it on three sides, while a
gentle slope dropped off the back side.
A narrow passage between two boulders served as an entrance. When not used for "Ordeal"
ceremonies, the ring offered a quiet haven for solitude, meditation, and
That Sunday morning in December, as
our troop began cleaning up after breakfast, I set out alone for the ring. I needed a moment of solitude and personal
reflection before the boys gathered for camp worship. The Ordeal Ring contained no seats except for
an occasional rock here and there low to the ground. There was a mosaic of grass and patches of
dirt for a floor. As I sat down on a
rock near the center, I felt captivated by the sounds, a winter bird chirping
somewhere in the woods, the breeze rustling high in the branches around
me. I sat there thinking -- I'm not sure
what, now -- until a sense of God's presence seemed to drift around me, gently,
quietly. No burning bush. No earthquake. Not even a still, small voice. Just a sense as real as the wind in my face
that He had joined me. I almost expected
to hear a the voice saying, "Take off your shoes. This is holy ground." For the brief space of half an hour, it was
holy ground to me. Not because I passed
my ordeal there. I didn't. But because the presence of God met me there.
What made that spot holy
ground? Remember Moses? While he shepherded the flock of his
father-in-law, Jethro, he had a more dramatic encounter with the Lord. At the time, he was just an ordinary person
who had found himself on a spot covered with patches of grass, rocks, a
scattering of bushes meager in size as well as number. But there God chose to reveal Himself to
Moses. First, "the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire
from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with
fire, yet the bush was not consumed." (Exodus 3.2) This was unusual in that wilderness. Not unusual that the bush caught fire, but
that it never burned up. When finally
Moses could contain himself no longer, he turned to see why the bush had not
burned up. Then, the Lord Himself spoke
to Moses from the midst of the bush. And
He said, "Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for
the place on which you are standing is holy ground." (Exodus 3.5)
A patch of grass, dirt, and rocks --
holy ground? You bet. Why?
What makes such a scrubby spot holy?
A holy God stepped out of His holy place and stepped down to an unholy
earth to meet a sinful man right where he was and to transform his life. And the very presence of that holy God
transformed that otherwise scraggly spot into holy ground. Isn't it amazing? Any place -- a church sanctuary, a football
stadium, a clearing in the woods, or a spot on a mountainside -- can become
holy if God is there. When God reveals
Himself at such a spot, that revelation nearly always includes a vivid
awareness of His holiness. God is
holy. How desperately we need to grasp
that fact. Of all the attributes
theologians have categorized, this one dominates. Jack Hayford said the holiness of God is that
which preserves who He is as God. In
fact, biblical writers themselves use this term holy more frequently
than all others to describe the nature and being of God. He is the Holy One, or the Holy One of
Israel. His is a holy name. He dwells in a holy temple. He is addressed in prayer as Holy
Father. God is holy.
God shows up, the ground all around Him becomes holy ground. When He reveals Himself to unholy man, it
usually results in a response from him.
And it's usually more than just taking off his shoes.
love a good mystery! When I was growing
up, I cut my teeth on Sherlock Holmes and Perry Mason. In fact, I still love an occasional Perry
Mason rerun. But there is a mystery in
the universe that makes a Sherlock Holmes adventure look like a child's
puzzle. That mystery is the Lord
Himself. He is inscrutable (Isaiah
40.28). He is incomprehensible (Job
37.5). He is unknowable (Job
36.23). He is awesome, majestic, full of
wonder (Exodus 15.11). He is limitless
(Job 11.7). His ways are beyond us
(Isaiah 55.9). Great minds, past and
present, have tried to penetrate the mystery of God, to fathom its depths, to
comprehend His ways. Scientists have
tried to explain His ways while philosophers have treated Him as a quaint
idea. But after centuries of inquiry,
God is still a mystery.
God is far too complex for the
scientist and far too deep to satisfy the philosopher. By now, you have probably sensed some of my
own struggle with this mystery. Larry
Crabb said men inevitably have difficulty handling mystery; and he's
right. So please bear with me as I
consider once more the question how then should we respond to Him? The wisest man in history suggests the only
appropriate response a finite person can give to the infinite God: "Here is the conclusion, when all has been heard: fear God
and observe His commandments, because this is the whole of man"
(Ecclesiastes 12.13, my translation). We
have already seen a little of what the fear of the Lord means, but what does it
actually involve? How does it become a
reality in our experience?
In his conclusion, Solomon focuses
not on fear and obedience, important as they may be, but rather on God and His
commandments. The Hebrew is more
emphatic, reading like this: "God fear and His commandments
keep!" When we focus our attention
on the Lord Himself, our response follows spontaneously. And that response is essentially one of fear
and trembling. Albert Martin suggests
several ingredients that comprise the fear of the Lord. Let's look at two of them. One is a pervasive sense of the presence of
God. If you are conscious of the
presence of God manifest around you and in your life, you will naturally
respond with fear. Let me suggest (if we
are not too proud to receive it) a modern example from Kenneth Grahame's
delightful tale, The Wind in the Willows. Rat and Mole are approaching the mythical
creature Pan on some island in their world, speaking to each other about him as
if he were God. "'Rat,' he found
the breath to whisper, shaking, 'Are you afraid?' 'Afraid?' murmured the Rat, his eyes shining
with unutterable love. 'Afraid? Of Him?
O never, never, never. And
yet---and yet---O Mole, I am afraid.'"
When we enter the presence of God,
our response is much the same. We are
not afraid and yet we are. A.W. Tozer
calls this one of the paradoxes of the Christian faith, to fear and not to be
afraid. We enter His presence in fear
and we walk with Him until our fear matures into fellowship. But ultimately the fear lingers when we're in
His presence. Remember Jacob? When he awoke from his dream, he said
essentially, "The Lord is here and I did not know it. I'm scared." (cp. Genesis
28.16-17). The presence of God alone
generates godly fear of the Lord.
Martin offers a second ingredient, a
correct concept of the character of God.
Even a brief glimpse of Who God is should send us trembling to our
knees. When King Uzziah died, Isaiah
experienced the presence of God and a glimpse of His character at the same
time. His response to both was to fear
the Lord. He saw the Lord sitting on a
throne, surrounded by angelic beings.
The temple was filled with smoke, the doors trembled on their hinges,
the seraphim covered their faces with their wings and cried to one another,
"Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord
of hosts, The whole earth is full of His glory" (Isaiah 6.3). The entire scene radiates the holiness of
God. As a result, Isaiah feared for his
life. He fell on his face and cried out,
"Woe is me, for I am ruined!
Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean
lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord
of Hosts" (Isaiah 6.5).
see, God is a God of holiness, a God of majesty. A God of transcendent glory. Our God is an awesome God. Perhaps the greatest title of honor we can
place upon the Lord, however, is that of holiness. God is a God of love, no doubt. The Bible says so. He is a God of light and of wrath. But holiness reflects the majesty of His very
name. Holiness reflects the
venerableness of His name. The beauty of
the Lord glows through His holiness.
Over three hundred years ago, Stephen Charnock said of all the
attributes applied to the name of God, holy is the most frequently used. The holiness of God, he adds, is "the glory of every perfection in the
Godhead; as His power is the strength of them, so His holiness is the beauty of
them; as all would be weak without almightiness to back them, so all would be
uncomely without holiness to adorn them...." According to Charnock, God's purity is the
splendor of every attribute in the Godhead.
The majesty of God stands for His purity, His truth, His holiness, His
justice, and every expression that indicates the moral supremacy of the Lord. And it is the moral purity, the holiness of
God that moves us to fear Him. And
Solomon said this is the very essence of our being ---to fear the Lord; it is
"the whole of man."