In a 1965 interview, Andrew Wyeth (the painter) was quoted as saying,
“I can think of nothing more exciting than just sitting in a cornfield on a windy fall day and listening to the dry rustle… If one could only catch that true color of nature – the very thought drives me mad.”
When I take pictures of the places I go in the wilderness, I try to capture the aura of a place – the beauty I see before my eyes. But more times than not, looking at the pictures later, I see that I have failed to capture the true beauty that was really there. The pictures may be fabulous, but they haven’t caught the mood, the feeling of, for example, being surrounded by snow-capped peaks, the peacefulness of the quiet valley, or the total desolation of the desert.
It’s the same thing when we encounter God. We can talk about God, paint pictures, tell of how He has impacted us. But the stories, the paintings, the words all fall short of the actual experience.
God can’t be captured or expressed by us any more than we can take a picture of the Grand Canyon and say, “This is the total experience of the Grand Canyon.”
It’s why words and sermons and testimonies are great, but they can’t take the place of our own experience of God.
Going down to the library and watching a presentation and testimony of a person who climbed Mt. Rainier is interesting. It can fuel the fire that is already within you to visit Mt. Rainier National Park someday. But it’s nothing like actually going and climbing Mt. Rainier yourself.
To stand in the meadows of Paradise and see the hillsides thickly covered in wildflowers, smell the flowers yourself, dip your fingers in the tiny stream that rushes self-importantly in a crevice between mossy banks, to stand in awe of Mt. Rainier in a cloudless sky, its glaciers sparkling in the sun and its cliffs grey and solid, green, glaciated waterfalls pouring out from under the glacier’s toe.
I can describe it because I have seen it. But I can’t capture its true colors. I can’t give you the experience unless you are there.
To hear about God is good. But to experience God is far better. Because with the experience of God, you see true colors, and colors in all their brilliant fullness.