I was asked to lead a devotional for our board meeting (IAP) this past summer. I got this request while we were all camping up at Priest Lake in North Idaho. I haven’t led anything like it in a long time. I was a little nervous and a little excited. Mixed feelings I guess.
I was meditating on the trip to Ireland I took with one of my son’s and my sister. I was pondering the lengths man goes to get closer to God. We had visited Skellig Michael, an old monastery about 8 miles of the southwest tip of Ireland (County Kerry) which has recently gained new fame as the closing scene for the Star Wars – Force Awakens movie. This trip to this monastery that goes back to 500 AD had me thinking about the phenomenon and journey of man’s quest to get closer to the Almighty.
What is it in man that longs so deeply to get close to the Divine? People have sacrificed, fought, died, suffered and built all in the name of whatever god it is they are worshipping to show their willingness to sacrifice or pay penance by building something grand enough or high enough all in hopes of impressing their deity, even a belief that they can get physically closer.
Many men over the centuries have been so riddled with guilt over their sin that they have been willing to do great, sometimes horrible things in the hopes of reconciling. They have built towers, castles, shrines. They have killed, tortured, and have starved and tortured themselves. They have climbed the highest mountains, gone into the deepest jungles, and have risked everything, including their own lives to show their willingness to do whatever it takes to get closer.
But why? It would appear that it is something that makes us uniquely human. Something that separates us from the rest of creation. Our soul, literally craves a connection to something bigger than us. We can see it, sense it, bear witness to the fact that their is something bigger out there. Somewhere we can’t see with our own physical eyes, and yet we know it is there. Men have essentially been on a futile quest to make something physical or to create something high enough, or grand enough, to bridge that gap between us and God.
At Skellig Michael, the monks sailed out in treacherous water to an island to build a monastic life (even today the only boats that are allowed to go out there are fishermen typically and each day is hit or miss on whether you can get there or not – oh, and they already have your money – no refunds here because the weather is bad!). The monks committed to build, plant, write, and pray. Harsh climate, hard terrain, harsh life, all to show their willingness to do whatever it takes to disconnect from their society so they can get closer to Him.
History is loaded with stories of men who have gone on their own quest to do the same. The Bible has several stories capturing specific men and their quest to connect with God.
“As the deer pants for the water, so my should longs after You.” – David
The good news is that although this building of temples, shrines, monastic settlements, and such are probably not bad in and of themselves. I think it is simpler than that. We don’t have to build the grandest monument, or even force ourselves to monastic lives in order to be closer to Him. I think it is simpler than that. Jesus said that we no longer have to do that because He would be our advocate, our intercession, our liaison between us and God. He would be that temple, that bridge.
We can simply cry out, wherever we are, whenever we are, and I believe He hears us.
“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” – Blind Bartimaeus