On US Highway 1 travelers cross 42 bridges to get all the way from Miami to Key West, Florida—113 miles. The highway follows a 1912 railroad plan and was completed in 1938 with recent modern replacements on most of the bridges. It is called the Overseas Highway. For an impressive stretch of this highway, motorists can see the Atlantic Ocean on south side of the car and the Gulf of Mexico on the north side. Nothing separates the two except these small islands and bridges. The traveler is literally poised between two immense bodies of water every moment. The Florida Straits are the meeting place of great ocean currents from the North and South Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Public worship is much like this amazing, beautiful drive.
The worshiper is traveling between time and eternity. Out one window a vast ocean shimmers and out the other a huge gulf glistens. The ocean of eternity and the gulf of time touch beneath this road.
And so it is with worship.
We who are bound by time and space, travel in spirit to a timeless destination of spiritual coordinates—the Throne Room of God Almighty. Here the gulf and the ocean merge. Just as deep currents battle each other in these waters, human tendencies and cultural mores conspire against worship.
This isn’t just fanciful language; this is descriptive. The Book of Hebrews says that when the church comes before God in worship, we are transported spiritually to Mt. Zion, “…to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God…” (Heb 12:22)
What does this mean?
- Worshipers who are locked into time, get a taste of eternity.
- The gravity-like pull of time is countered by the upward winds of the Spirit.
- The fog of earthly confusion is shredded by the warming, clearing light of truth.
- The homeless ones of earth rest for a while in mansions made for them.
- The solitary ones, the neglected and forgotten here on earth, fellowship in God-redeemed families.
Today when the hour for worship comes, we must realize that we live our lives between two great forces, time and eternity.
- Through one window the tide of the gulf may draw us away from worship. The pull of time is heavy and the conflicting currents of human weakness are difficult to fight.
- Out the other window, the ocean is calling with strength to pull us homeward–deeper tides than those of time and mightier currents than those of the soul.
Eternity is stronger than time and in worship we can enter the eternal—for a moment. There we can touch God and be touched by Him.
Hebrews 12:22-24 NIV
…you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
Ecclesiastes 3:9-12 NIV
… He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.
2 Corinthians 4:16-5:1 NIV
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.
Lord Jesus, I thank You for my life today. Made in Your image, I can enjoy the warmth of the beautiful gulf of time and the prospect of the ocean of eternity, gleaming beyond my imagination. In this life I travel a road between time and eternity. As I worship today, lift me beyond the sensational to the spiritual. Open my eyes to heavenly things. Tune my hearing to the music of Your Throne Room. Help me empty my heart of pride so that Your Spirit can fill me with Your love. Take us to Mt. Zion, today! The in-between-road we must travel will be straighter and safer and more meaningful tomorrow, because today, for a while, we worshiped before Your Throne frolicking with angels and singing with saints to the music of eternity. Joyfully in Your Name, Amen!
Words: A.B. Simpson; Music: Russell Carter
1. The mercy of God is an ocean divine,
A boundless and fathomless flood;
Launch out in the deep, cut away the shore line,
And be lost in the fullness of God.
Launch out, into the deep,
Oh, let the shore line go;
Launch out, launch out in the ocean divine,
Out where the full tides flow.
2. But many, alas! only stand on the shore,
And gaze on the ocean so wide;
They never have ventured its depths to explore,
Or to launch on the fathomless tide.
3. And others just venture away from the land,
And linger so near to the shore
That the surf and the slime that beat over the strand
Dash over them in floods evermore.
4. Oh, let us launch out on this ocean so broad,
Where floods of salvation o’erflow;
Oh, let us be lost in the mercy of God,
Till the depths of His fullness we know.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved