Beckett: Error 404 – God Not Found

Error 404

One of my favourite motifs to study that appear throughout the Scriptures is that of thirst. The Psalms capture it beautifully, “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God” (Psalm 42:1-2)? Perhaps what comes to mind for most of us is Jesus’ words to the Samaritan woman at the well, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14). Or perhaps John 6:35, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst.”

I think we often underestimate the vitality of water because of the wealthy society we live in as first world citizens; we have an abundant supply of water, so it becomes difficult to connect to what Jesus is saying here. So, let’s replace water with something we can all relate to: the Internet.

Without Jesus, there is an error 404—we are disconnected from God. We cannot make the connection ourselves unless someone does it for us—someone has to reconcile the connection. God is the one who makes the reconciliation through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). We are spoiled enough in our society that we feel helpless without Internet connection. God forbid that our smartphones have bad connection! When that error 404 message appears, or when we have no cell phone service, we freak out. Without Christ, we are disconnected from the Father and we are left helpless. This should freak us out!

The Totality of God’s Strength

There are often barriers that cause us to disconnect ourselves from God, and we are on the side of err, whether that be from video games, sports consumption, sexual immorality, or just the busyness of life. Fortunately, Christ is the cornerstone (1 Peter 2:4-8). He is that immovable Rock in whom we can always fall back on. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (Psalm 18:2).

The beauty about this psalm is David being emphatic with the use of multiple images of strength: rock, fortress, refuge, shield, horn, and stronghold. It seems David wasn’t satisfied with just one metaphorical image, but felt obligated to use multiple metaphors to grasp the ineffable magnitude of God’s strength in a way the human mind could best fathom it with its vastly limited understanding.

God is סֶלַע (sela, rock)—a solid mass; He is מְצוּדָה (muhtsudah, fortress)—a fortified defensive structure; He is חסה (chasah, refuge)—a safe shelter; He is מְגֵן (muhgēn, shield)—a defensive frame that blocks attacks; He is קֶרֶן (qerenhorn)—strength itself; and He is מִשְׂגָּב (misuhgav, stronghold)—a strongly fortified defensive military structure. These are a lot of images David uses to portray God with a seemingly mundane idea of strength. Yet the Hebrew understandings of the words used in their poetic function illustrate an awe-inspiring (i.e. awesome) image of who God is.

As rock, he is this solid, tough mass no one can pick up and throw; He is unconquerable and no one can control Him. As our fortress, He stands before us as a large defensive structure. As our refuge, we are safe in Him in times of trouble. As our shield, He blocks all spiritual attacks against us. He is our horn—the embodiment of strength itself; therefore, any strength we need and receive comes from Him. And as our stronghold, He is our military defence against the Devil and his demonic army.

One of my favourite psalms I believe captures the totality of God’s strength is Psalm 125:2: “As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds His people, from this time forth and forevermore.” If you look at a map of Israel and locate Jerusalem, you will see it is surrounded by mountains. Mountains! Not hills, but mountains. This is why it was so difficult for King Nebuchadnezzar to siege Judah, particularly its capital Jerusalem, because of those mountains. That is our defence—we are surrounded by the mountainous Lord, except no spiritual army or force can get past Him to us.

What Sustains Us? The Living Water or Our Dry Cisterns?

In His judgement against Israel, God describes two types of waters. “For My people have committed two evils: they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). We often use other means to sustain ourselves—pop culture, false religions, sexual identity, etc.—yet the One True Sustainer is Christ the Son of God. Christ is the well from whom we draw our sustenance, not the worldly things that become our idols.

I think the most effective way to remember God is our sustenance is simply to spend time with Him—time besides the hour or two every Sunday morning. Even the typical Wednesday night Bible study coupled with Sunday morning is not enough. So, how much time is enough? There is no allotted time that is enough to spend time in the Word! To thirst for the Lord is to continually seek after Him and follow Him as our source of sustenance. One glass of water is not enough for a whole week. Likewise, one day—or even two days—at church a week is never enough. Even if we went to church every day, that would still not be enough.

Prayer and Devotions: The Divine WiFi

Our connection to Christ should encompass our entire lives. We have a constant wireless network to Him called prayer; the servers never go down. When we walk out the church doors, our worship and communion with God does not remain within those doors. If we leave Jesus behind those doors, we disconnect ourselves from Him. Rather, our worship and communion with Him continues as we return home and live out our daily lives in the world.

This is why I think Christians taking time every day to do daily devotions is essential. Sunday, and/or that one Bible study a week, should not be the only time we spend in the Word. We cannot spend every minute of our day in the Word, of course; that’s not realistic. Rather, I think a more practical approach would be to spend some amount of time every day reading a devotion, which is to read God’s Word and spend time in prayer. This looks different for everyone; everyone has their own method. I could share my suggestions, but I can do that another time. For now, feel free to refer to the following source. Daily devotions—spending time in the Word every day—are important because the Word is our only connection to God the Father. Therefore, since Christ is the Word of God incarnate, He is our only connection to God the Father.

Jesus Christ: Our Wireless Connection to God the Father

In the Old Testament, the Jordan River marked the end of their dry desert wandering and the beginning of their fertile living in the Promised Land. For us spoiled 21st century Christians, our desert wandering is like going to a place with no Internet connection and/or cell phone service, and our Jordan River is like returning home with that glorious access to virtually everything on a wireless network at the power of our fingertips. We have grown so accustomed and attached to the Internet that when we are left without it, life seems dry and boring—a wilderness of boredom and nothingness. Granted, life is rich without the Internet, yet when we are reconnected to technology that consumes so much of our attention, suddenly we feel rejuvenated.

Christ was baptised in the Jordan River, through whom we die to our sins and are made alive in Him in our own baptisms (Romans 6:1-14). Disconnected from God in sin, Christ reconnects us to the Father by faith and Baptism, whose “river of the water of life” flows from Him and Christ to we who dwell in His holy city (Revelation 22:1-3).

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