Reading the Old Testament book of Ezekiel is like listening to someone narrating an acid trip.
The second chapter is about God calling a priest, a man named Ezekiel, to go and prophesy - literally, to proclaim the message from God of the logical destination due to their current direction - to a people called "stubborn," "rebellious" and even called "scorpions." (see 2:3, 4, 5-7)
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Before that is Chapter 1.
In the first chapter, Ezekiel has what he calls "visions of God." (1:2) Let me try to describe this in brief:
Four living creatures who looked like humans with four wings, human hands and a head with four faces. They seem connected at the wings and they fly together in perfect formation. Their wings apparently had the sound of an advancing army and their appearance is best described with fire and lightning.
Connected to these four creatures were four "wheels" beside each creature. Each sparkled like topaz, and looked like two wheels intersecting each other. The wheels went where the creatures went, and the rims were "high and awesome" (1:18) and covered with eyes all around.
Above them, was a vault that sparkled like crystal. That's all. Apparently Zeke ran out of adjectives. The creatures hung out under the vault, making tremendous sound with their wings.
Now it's important at this point to think about what you and I may have done with all of this visual stimulation. Crumpled under the unbelievability of it all? Soiled ourselves in fear? Blinked hard and shook our heads? Yes, yes all of this would have happened. Ezekiel however, doesn't respond with much of anything other than a very deep and significant "Wow."
A voice comes from over the vault. A jewel-crusted throne with a figure like that of a man sitting on it. He glowed like metal from the waist up, like he was on fire, and was surrounded by a singularly brilliant light. The radiance was like a rainbow in the clouds.
Now stop for a minute, four living creatures with their partnered wheels and a vault like crystal had already appeared. Ezekiel had seen all of that and said, "Wow." Impressive. Miraculous. The stuff of science fiction.
Then the throne, which leads him to say:
"This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking." (1:28b)
We are a people exposed to great sights. Computer-generated animation dominates our movies, to where we aren't quite sure if Lieutenant Dan really lost his legs or not, and we are constantly seeing new and more brilliant things.
If we are going to be formed by the God of the Bible, the narrative of people becoming more comfortable with the presence of God, we must learn to be serenaded and overwhelmed by that which in comparison to our everyday lives is less than spectacular.
It is spectacular on it's own, the radiance and glory of God. But in comparison, it gets lost.
The wild and massive crowds of churches are seen as the miraculous wheels & creatures, grabbing our attention.
The act of blessing a barista or cashier, generously and authentically, gets lost though it is all jeweled-throne, fire from the waist up kind of stuff.
We are enchanted by the visually miraculous, but when the lapis-lazuli throne of God begins to emanate forgiveness in us for those who don't deserve it, do we fall on our face?
That's why I believe God is simple.
In a world where everything has grown complicated, we return to the throne - bland in comparison to the visually stimulating - and we fall on our faces because the one seated there is doing miracles in His simplicity.
Father, let us sort through those things that draw our attention and find at the center your fire - your metallic-like torso shining in the midst of digitally animated faith that though it seems 3D is only presented as such. Help us to crave nearness to your incarnate Son, truly 3D and present in all things.