Monday, October 29, 2012

Fire and Trains

If there's one thing people know about Littles it's that he loves trains. Specifically Thomas, but any train will do in a pinch. If he could, he would wear Thomas shirts every day and Thomas pajamas every night, and on the rare occasion that Tiny has worn clothing with trains, said clothing was in danger of being ripped off of him. He has three different toys trains that he prefers not to ever share, and if he could, he would spend all day looking at Aunt A's train pictures online. Consequently, the highlight of his visit with Neni and Aki was the trains, because while we may have planes galore on base, the town they live in has a regular train route just three blocks from where my parents are staying. Every morning at breakfast he would hear the train and every night at dinner and several times in between, and it never failed to illicit thrills of joy. Aki was roped into drawing train after train after train, and even loving Aunt J sent over a train set for Littles to play with while we were there.

So taking him to the train station to see a real live train was a no brainer. Best. Day. Ever. Right? Little's excitement was unparalleled. The train came rumbling into the station, rattling and roaring as it slowed to a stop and then it sounded its horn, long and loud. And there was Littles with his hands over his ears, crying.

I thought to myself, in retrospect, isn't that just how we are about God? We love the idea of Him. We love to think that we know everything there is to know about Him. We read books about Him; we talk about Him; we diagram and debate and decipher Him. We think that we are on the inside track (no pun intended, but you're welcome to laugh if you like puns) when it comes to God. But then He comes rumbling into our lives, rattling and roaring and making perhaps a brief stop, and He doesn't have to stay long or be loud because we find ourselves shaken to the core. That is the only response to His presence.

Our God is a consuming fire.

Think of Moses in Exodus 33. All he saw was God's back, and his face shone so brightly that the people of Israel couldn't look at it. Or Isaiah in Isaiah 6 whose response to seeing the Lord was to say, "Woe is me! For I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips!" Yes, there are times when He speaks to us in a gentle whisper (1 Kings 19), but how often do I come into His presence expecting gentleness, a pat on the back, a cup of tea and some tissues when there is just as good a chance that He will respond with fire?

As Lewis so poignantly says at the end of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, "He's not a tame lion." He's not a toy train. And it is presumptuous of me to not expect to be just a little terrified in His presence.

1 comment:

  1. So beautifully and powerfully put. You need to get this printed.