The Bare Soul -
August 3, 2008
Ezekiel 10:4 - Then the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the temple, and the temple was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD.
Traveling abroad, one of our favorite places to visit are old cathedrals. The grandeur of these centuries-old places of worship are certainly awe-inspiring. Once a person steps through the doors, the majestic columns, high vaulted ceilings, and gorgeous stained-glass are breathtaking expressions of the architect's intent to bring the beholder closer to his or her Maker! It is quite easy to understand how the common people would find inspiration when attending worship. The ordinary person in the middle ages lived in squalid conditions to say the least. It was probably a breath of fresh air to enter these places of devotion and to be immersed in such beauty, both in sight and sound. The soaring vocals of the choirs must have sounded like bands of angels to both kings and peasants.
On our recent trip to Europe, we had the privilege to attend three Evensongs at three different cathedrals. The music and the vocals were captivating as we allowed our hearts to be taken up in the Spirit to the Most High! While it is not necessary to be in a place of extraordinary beauty and phenomenal acoustics to experience God's presence, things of this nature can definitely help us draw near to the Lord. Sitting in the services, I would reflect how undoubtedly countless others had sat where I sat centuries before and were encouraged and transformed by the worship. One might be critical today and say, "Why were such grand, opulent, and apparent wasteful spending undertaken for these majestic structures when the poor were dying in the streets?" However, one must also consider the living in those times, and what hope these structures obviously brought to so many.
I have experienced the joy of European cathedrals and the majestic sense of God within. I have equally experienced "mountain cathedrals" where I was on top of a Colorado mountain and the vaulted roof was the blue sky above and my song of praise echoed to the valley below. God's beauty is truly to be experienced wherever we worship. Both the rapturous beauty of a man-made cathedral and one manifested in God's nature are not the end, but merely the means by which we may come to God's purpose in worship. Spiritual cathedrals don't necessarily have to have outward beauty. We have the power to transform our surroundings into a place of worship. Paul experienced his own "spiritual cathedral" in the depths of a Philippian prison with his cohort Silas as they sang and gave glory to God in their praise and worship (Acts 16:25). It didn't matter that they were in the deepest, darkest pit of human depravity. They had found a "spiritual cathedral" within their own souls -- the very temple of the Most High that is part of every believer's heritage. For truly, as Paul and Silas knew, this was the most extraordinary, beautiful place to dwell -- in the very presence of God!
Jesus said to the woman at the well that there was a day coming when those who would worship God would not worship him in Jerusalem or in Samaria, but that they would worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24). For truly when a man or a woman is a true worshipper of God, then their spiritual tabernacle or cathedral is always with them and their situation is not determinate on their surroundings, but on their heart's disposition toward their Lord. However, the Lord will sometimes give us eyes to see and ears to hear, and to be captivated by the beauty around us. A person with such a disposition of continual worship is keenly sensitive when they enter into this special place of beauty that highlights their worship to an even higher degree. May we all find our way to the "spiritual cathedrals" that will both edify and lift our spirits to the Father of Life!
Lord, we are restless until we rest in you. May we find our own "spiritual cathedral" that will be a place of unending worship and praise to you. In Jesus' holy name, Amen.
I've sung in mountain cathedrals
With steeples rising high
And altars made of evergreen -
Windows made of sky
And windows made of sky
- From the song "Mountain Cathedrals" by Bob Bennett
Your Barefoot Servant,
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