by Dale Reeves
This past weekend my wife and I traveled to the resort town of Red River, New Mexico, for the wedding of our nephew Nathan to his lovely bride. Located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this skiing mecca (elevation 8,750 ft.) is situated along the famed Enchanted Circle. Founded by miners, this quaint town’s current population is 539 friendly folks. My wife and in-laws and I flew into Denver, then drove five hours south, marveling at the snow-covered Colorado Rockies all the way down. We stopped in Colorado Springs to tour the “Garden of the Gods,” a registered National Natural Landmark.
“Garden of the Gods” features dramatic views of towering sandstone rock formations against a backdrop of white-capped Pikes Peak, lush foothills, and blue skies. My wife and I had been there one time previously, but never when there was snow on the roads and in the valley. You can see all kinds of wildlife in this area, such as mule deer, elk, bighorn sheep, foxes, and prairie rattlesnakes. Thankfully we didn’t see any rattlers that day. Some of the more recognized red, pink, and white sandstone and limestone formations are named, “Cathedral Spires,” “Siamese Twins,” “Steamboat Rock,” and “Balanced Rock.”
No Rock Like Our God
My mother-in-law reflected on our tour, “It was all beautiful; I’m so glad I got to see it.” My brother-in-law Barry commented, “Every hundred feet we drove, around each twist and turn there was another awe-inspiring view. All the different kinds of formations and shapes are amazing.” In 1859 two land surveyors explored this unsettled land. According to tradition, Garden of the Gods got its name because one of the surveyors declared it a “place for the Gods to assemble.”
“There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God” (1 Samuel 2:2, NIV)
“A place for the Gods to assemble.” Hmmm. I wonder what kind of gods they were talking about in 1859? There is an interesting encounter that the apostle Paul has with the citizens of Athens, Greece, that is recorded for us in Acts 17. This city in Paul’s day was a citadel for the many Greek gods. Their council, called the Areopagus, was responsible for all religious and educational matters in Athens. While in Athens, Paul was disgusted by the many false idols that he saw. But one altar had really caught his attention. On it were inscribed the words, “To an Unknown God.” The Greeks had erected an altar to whatever god they might have inadvertently left out, just to cover all the bases. But Paul seized this opportunity to tell them about the one true God: “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. . . . God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us” Acts 17:24, 25, 27, NIV).
Their “unknown God” was the biblical God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, the Creator of snow and ice and incredible rock formations, who does not dwell in temples made with hands. The “unknown God” desires to be known by us, for he has spoken to us through his Word, and he sent his only Son to us because he was Emmanuel, “God with us.”
Hungry for More of God
Even as I write this, there is something exciting taking place in Wilmore, Kentucky, which is just south of Lexington, nestled in the rolling green hills of central Kentucky. With a population of just over 6,000 people, Wilmore is also the home of Asbury, a private Christian university and seminary. Just over a week ago, on Wednesday, February 8, after their mandatory morning chapel was dismissed a number of students remained, desiring to continue singing, worshiping, and praying. They were hungry for more than just three worship songs, some announcements, and a message from a preacher. They were hungry for more of God. As the day wore on, more and more students came back to Hughes Auditorium to continue in worship, intercessory prayer, sharing testimonies, confession of sins, and hearing God’s Word.
The campus of Asbury is now in its twelfth day of continuous gathering in this place, meeting twenty-four hours for whoever might want to come and experience what is happening there. This has not been planned or orchestrated by any professional musicians or preachers, there aren’t any flashing lights or smoke machines, no words on a big screen, or fancy stage décor. Some are calling it a “revival” similar to what the college experienced in 1970, some are calling it an “awakening,” and some a very significant move of the Holy Spirit. Time will tell what kind of fruit is borne out of this 24/7 worship experience. Social media, local news, and national news outlets have all contributed to the momentum that has continued to gain steam. Groups of students from many other colleges and others interested in checking out the phenomenon have journeyed from practically every state in the union and from some foreign countries.
I have worshiped in chapel services at Asbury in the past, though I have not been there the past few weeks. In all the interviews I have watched, one theme continues to emerge: “This is not about us, not about any great speaker. It’s about Jesus and how his Holy Spirit is moving in this place.” Sounds like the kind of place where the One true God would assemble with his people. Come to think of it, if you are a Christ follower, and you have the Word of God, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life, you can have a significant God encounter right where you are. As the apostle Paul said, “God is not far from any of us.” There is nothing wrong with jumping in the car and heading to Asbury to see how God is calling this generation of college students to pursue him with their whole hearts, and we can draw close to God in a beautiful place like the “Garden of the Gods” in Colorado—but realize that he can do the same thing with you and those around you anytime he (and you) desire.
“Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains” (Psalm 95:1-4, NLT).
“Before the mountains were born, before you gave birth to the earth and the world, from beginning to end, you are God” (Psalm 90:2, NLT).