July 18, 1995
The woman on the plane sounded Scottish so I asked her where she was from. She replied, “I live in Liverpool, but I belong to Scotland.” What charming words!
A few hours later, we landed in Glasgow and spent two weeks traveling through Scotland. Now, those words are more than charming. Now I have been there myself. Now I feel her heartbeat. I also feel as if I belong to Scotland. It is everything I imagined and more.
Perhaps my love affair is due to my grandfather being born near Aberdeen. There is something about family roots that draws a person back to the land of their origins. Whatever it is, I dream about Scotland nearly every night since we arrived back here in Alberta.
Mind you, there are drawbacks. It rains a great deal there (but I like rain). The roads are narrow and everyone drives on the wrong side of the road (but it never hurts me to slow down or learn a new skill). The prices are double or more what they are here in Canada and it is hard to make a living (so that is why Scots are so thrifty — but I am too). Still, I would go back tomorrow, if I could. And while I am dreaming, I would buy a castle ruins and have it restored. I even have the castle picked out. But then, you would have had to have been there.
“You have to have been there...” How true! Remember telling funny anecdotes but somehow they lost some of their magic in the retelling? The event was better “first hand.”
What about when children finally grow up and become parents... don’t they now better understand the joys and sorrows of being parents after they have “been there” themselves?
The same holds true in the Christian experience. Most people know at least something about God, but hearing about Him and is not the same as having “been there,” as having a personal relationship with Him. Try as we might, our glowing words, praises for God, and stories of answered prayer all sound flat to people who have not “been there.” Perhaps one way to explain is like standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and trying to describe its color to a blind person.
The question is: How can a person know God? According to Scripture, we do not know God through hearing eloquent words, magnificent descriptions, and glowing testimonies about Him. They may help but the difference is like reading about Wayne Gretzky in the newspaper compared to playing on the same team with him.
Neither does being smart guarantee that a person knows God. The Bible explains that God (in His wisdom) decided no one in the world would know Him through wisdom. Being powerful or wealthy does not automatically make a person know God either.
How then can a person know God? Paul says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him — but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit...”
A “been there” experience of God is a revealed thing, and God has to do the revealing. He hides Himself from those who are proud, uninterested or simply playing games. Therefore we must come to Him with a “humble and contrite spirit” and “believe that He is and is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” We have to look for Him and desire to know Him for ourselves.
The lady on the plane could have described Scotland. She could have told me about the flawless fresh air and the bend-over-backwards hospitality — but being there made the difference. Scotland showed me Scotland... and now that I have been there, I’m not sure I understand why she lives in Liverpool.