To make a man happy as a lark, might be to do him grievous wrong: to make a man wake, rise, look up, turn, is worth the life and death of the Son of the Eternal.
— George MacDonald (Unspoken Sermons)
Everyone knows the type of person I am about to describe. Let’s call him Tidus (I chose the FFX character because I don’t know anyone with that name). People consider Tidus ‘high maintenance’. When he’s around, he expects all of your attention. When you’re with a group of people, everyone dreads Tidus’ arrival because things get awkward. Seriously, how can he expect your undivided attention when you’re with your friends?
Here’s how we treat Tidus: if we see him walking up the sidewalk, we causally cross to the other side of the road while pretending not to see him. When he approaches us in a group, we pay him lip-service; never engaging in a genuine conversation.
Strangely enough, God and Tidus are quite similar. God demands our whole attention—scripture even calls him jealous. We owe him our first allegiance, attention, affection. Everyone and everything else is secondary.
I’m afraid we often treat God like we treat Tidus. He becomes just another voice calling for the undivided attention we’re unwilling to give. Our distractions seem more important.
Ezekiel encountered the watery, thunderous, clashing noise of God in a vision and paid attention. He did what anyone of us would do in his shoes: fall on his face like a dead person. If we really want to hear God’s voice, we need to listen to him solely.
. . .
Ezekiel did what we would expect him to do—it’s God that surprises us. Once God has Ezekiel’s attention he says, “O mortal, stand up on your feet, and I will speak with you” (2:1 NRSV). While Ezekiel’s down on his face, God’s not ready to speak to him. Ezekiel needed to remember two things:
First, he was created in God’s image. It’s true that God is the infinite all-powerful Creator of the universe; we are simply a part of his creation. However, God did something special when he created us:
So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
(Genesis 1:27 NRSV)
We are created in the image of God. God has endowed us with a certain dignity that was not offered to the rest of his creation. When God speaks to us we can stand because we bear his image. This should do wonders for our self esteem! God loved us enough to brand us with his own image.
Second, God enables us to hear and obey him: “When he spoke to me, a spirit entered into me and set me on my feet; and I heard him speaking to me” (2:2 NRSV). Even with the dignity God granted Ezekiel in asking him to stand up, he was helpless to obey. I’m sure his knees would have turned to jelly at the sight of God.
For his entire life, he had taught his fellow Israelites that no one can see God and live. God hid himself behind the veil in the holy of holies, and could only be approached through special rites. Ezekiel would have expected to die after seeing the holiness of God. It took God’s Spirit entering Ezekiel—the same Spirit that animated and guided God’s entourage—to enable him to stand and hear God’s voice.
This passage speaks loudly to us today. When God tries to speak with us, do we listen to him exclusively? Do we trust in our own powers of logic and deduction to make decisions, or do rely on the animating power of God’s Spirit to lift us to our feet and hear God’s answer?
. . .
Lord God, speak to us today. Empower us to stand to our feet, ennobled by your presence. Animate us with your Spirit to do whatever you ask of us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.