Overwhelmed

Have you ever used a word to describe something; a situation, person, or event, but then later you question if you were using the word correctly?

Recently, my wife and I went and experienced the full and incredible force of Niagara Falls. There we were, in the famed Maid of the Mist boat in the very center of the Horseshoe Falls and one word kept coming to my mind. Overwhelmed. I even tried to shout it out loud to my wife, “this is so overwhelming!” But she couldn’t even hear me over the roar of the waters.

Later that day, because I’m a nerd, I looked up the definition of overwhelm just to be sure I was using it as accurately as possible. Here is what I found…

o·ver·whelm

verb

  1. bury or drown beneath a huge mass.

Yep. I would say that fits.

If you have never been to Niagara Falls I would highly recommend that you put it on your to-do list. It is such an incredible sight to take in. The sheer power of the water literally does overwhelm every single one of your senses.

I have said it before, but I just have to say it again, we have an incredibly creative creator.

The Falls were so spectacularly impressive, but they don’t even come close to the wonder and splendor and majesty of The Almighty God. And here is the crazy thing, you don’t need the rushing roar of the world’s most famous waterfall in order to experience the full power of our creator. (Fun fact, although Niagara is not technically the largest waterfall in the world, it is the waterfall with the largest volume of water passing through it. So, there ya go.)

Anyway, back on topic. The really awesome thing about God is that you can understand and know the full force of God’s power anywhere and everywhere. It can be in the middle of the roar of the horseshoe of Niagara. It can be in the stillness of the morning where the only sounds are chirping birds. Your physical location does not matter. Your spiritual location? That is what really matters.

I have talked with a bunch of people over the years who end up saying something like, “I’m just not feeling it” or, “I really would like God to make Himself more known to me.”

But here is the problem with that thinking, we are humans that change on a regular basis. God is eternal and does not change. Ever. (Hebrews 13:8)

So, if the discussion is, who needs to move or give more to the relationship, us or God, the answer is always going to be, us. That is why the Bible tells us to, “draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8) not the other way around. And once again, that nearness is not a physical location, it is a condition of our heart.

With all that said, I am very thankful that I was blessed to go see the incredible sight of, what the Native Americans called, “The End of The World.” Because, in seeing it, I was both reminded and challenged.

Reminded that if the things that God created can be overwhelming, then God Himself is completely overwhelming.

And challenged to be overwhelmed by God each and every day, no matter what my situation or location.

God is so big, so beyond anything that we can comprehend, He is eternal, holy, perfect, and wonderful…and yet so personal, loving, approachable, caring, and knowable.

So, let us draw closer to Him and be overwhelmed by Him, by His love, by His mercy, by His glory, and by His grace.

“There is none like you, O LORD; you are great, and your name is mighty in power.” Jeremiah 10:6

The Way Life Should Be

My wife and I are on a mission. Our goal is to, eventually, make a visit to all 50 states. We have been incredibly blessed to stop by, and subsequently get a magnet from, a decent portion of the 50 states in our great Union already. (Quick poll: if we have been to a state but forgot to get a magnet can we just buy a magnet on Amazon, or do we have to go back in order for it to “count?”)

Anyway, one of my favorites, if not the favorite, state so far would be Maine. (Fun fact: Maine is the only state whose name is only one syllable. Go ahead say all the states in your head, it’s true!)

I fell in love with Maine in a matter of minutes, literally. Now, I know that the short time I spent there does not necessarily offer a complete and fully accurate picture of what life in Maine might be like. But, with that being said, what I did see and experience was absolutely breath-taking.

I was debating of whether or not to share a bunch of pictures here and I decided to just go with the one. (Taken by my awesome wife, by the way.) The reason I am not showing more is that, even though the pictures we took turned out really well, they still do so little justice to just how beautiful it truly was.

God is such an awesome and incredibly creative creator. This world that He has made is so beautiful. (Read more about that HERE.)

Maine was awesome. The coast was my favorite. I could sit there on a rock and stare off into the ocean for hours. The blueberries were heavenly. The lobster was in mac n’ cheese. The donuts were exceptional. The trees were tall and skinny, just the way they should be. (Oh, also trees make up 90% of the land in Maine…so that’s neat!) The people were down-to-earth and friendly. And did I mention the coast?!

While we were driving we saw a sign that stuck with me. It read, “MAINE: The Way Life Should Be.”

I remember smiling and saying out loud, “yea, that’s about right.” I mean, if there is a way that life should be lived it probably is: on the edge of a forest-on the top of a cliff-next to a lighthouse-overlooking the ocean-eating fresh blueberry pancakes. Now, that’s living.

I kept thinking about that sign for the next few days and even weeks. The phrase itself makes my mind run to Genesis 2. Back to the Garden. Back to the way life should be.

That one chapter in the Bible where all was as it should be. Man and woman walking and talking and living and enjoying life together next to God. Together with God.

If you look around you today, you won’t find a picture-perfect garden paradise. Instead, you will see brokenness, pain, hurt, despair, sin, and death. This is not the way life should be.

That is important for us to remember. This new normal for mankind is so “not the way life should be” that God did something about it. He sent Jesus.

Jesus died on the cross so that we could experience life, abundant life. (John 10:10)

Jesus came to show us the way, and the way that life should be. (John 14:6)

And, God promises, for those who put their trust in Jesus, to take away all the things that stand in the way of “life being the way it should be.” (Revelation 21:1-8)

You may be reading this and be thinking, “that’s great! I have already trusted Jesus, but how do I navigate life today?”

That’s a great question. Proverbs 3:5-6 gives a great answer. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.”

Trusting in Jesus today and tomorrow and the next day and the next…that is how we, not just survive, but thrive in this life.

Trust in Jesus.

That is the way life should really be.

All of Creation.

Our Earth is a beautiful place.

The beauty of creation is something that people have been fascinated with for a very long time. There are people who spend their entire lives making careers out of photographing creation. There are countless documentaries that show us pictures and videos of creation in all of its splendor.

The Bible has a whole lot to say about creation as well. Creation consistently interacts with its creator. The entire Bible is full of situations from Genesis to Revelation, God speaks and creation responds.

Psalm 19:1-4 is just one example of many where creation praises God and declares the glory of its maker.

Ashley and I have been blessed to be able to travel many different places. I remember when Ashley and I were on our honeymoon in Switzerland. One day we decided to go on an 8-hour hike. After we had hiked for a couple of hours we started a rousing conversation about… yodeling. There we were, all alone, on top of a mountain, surrounded by mountains, trying (and failing) to yodel. Thankfully the only ones to hear us were the cows.

It was while we were making fools of ourselves trying to yodel that I was reminded of the old hymn. “This is my Father’s world…all nature sings and round me rings…His hand the wonders wrought.” The hymn had it right, all nature does sing his praises. In fact, I would say that all of creation screams out the praises and glory of God its creator.

No matter where we have been, whether is it the mountains of Switzerland or the not so mountainous Nebraska, we are always reminded that God makes incredible beauty out of nothing.

One creation that we have not talked about yet is God’s most prized creation, humans. We are created in the image of God. Literally, we are designed to be in relationship with Him and to worship Him. We have a place above all of the rest of creation.Mountains, valleys, giant forests, great plains, vast oceans, birds, animals, everything macro, and everything microscopic…none of them can compare to the beauty of man and woman.

Unfortunately, the sad reality is that out of all of creation, humans have the hardest time actually doing what we were created to do.

Romans 1:18-23 tells us that creation has an important role, it points all mankind directly to its creator. The problem is that we humans have a terrible default. The natural default is to worship the creation rather than the creator. We need to appreciate creation and allow it to point us directly back to God Himself.

We have an incredibly creative creator.

God is worthy of all the honor, glory, and praise. He created some incredible and priceless things. Don’t believe me? Just look outside. Or Google pictures of Norway’s Fjords. Or of the Amazon Rainforest. Or look up videos of “Old Faithful” in Yellowstone. Or check out the Great Barrier Reef. The Grand Canyon. Victoria Falls. The Northern Lights. The Great Blue Hole in Belize. The Cote d’Albatre in France. The Matterhorn in Switzerland….Or just look in a mirror.

We need to praise God and rejoice. We need to tell the world how incredible and wonderful He is. If we don’t then “even the rocks will cry out.” (Luke 19:40) Let’s not let some stones take our place.

Take a bit of extra time today to praise and thank God for being exactly who He is: a wonderful, almighty, awesome, holy, and loving creator.