The morning before our visit to the Garden Tomb, I had asked the Lord if I might see a winepress. I wanted to know what it looked like. We had been studying Revelation that year, and I was more than a little puzzled – particularly by the reference to the “winepress of the wrath of God.” And so I asked Him, almost in passing, if He would show me one. Understand this, my faith didn’t hinge on His answering. Next to nothing was at stake. I forgot the request almost as soon as it had been whispered. Our God is so much sweeter than He has to be. I firmly believe that sometimes He does things just to watch our eyes open in delight at Him.
And, believe me, when the tour guide at the Garden Tomb casually mentioned the winepress behind him as the rest of the group moved toward the tomb, my eyes flew open!
I still can’t tell you much about what the Scriptures mean when they talk of the “winepress of the wrath of God.” But I can tell you something about the God who will tread it. He is real. He is good. And He is merciful to all who come before Him through the perfect provision of the blood of His Son. That majestic God who spoke a universe into being and whose righteous wrath terrifies and puzzles, bends gently toward the human heart, and invites us to know Him. He extends to us eternal life, the opportunity not only to escape His wrath but to really know Jesus Christ and the God who sent Him. He invites us into His presence. He extends His hand to ours, willing not only to guide us through our days but to walk through them with us. The Almighty Father allows us to call Him “Dad,” and we find a God who not only knows us fully but desires that we know Him as well. He is a God who listens to our quiet confusion, and meets us not necessarily with answers but with assurance that He hears and that He’s near.
And so we taste just a hint of Jesus’ frustration when He says: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, so that you may have life.” (Jesus in John 5:39)
In His amazing love, He wrote it all down for us. He gave us a book that tells us of Him. But I am guilty of opening those Scriptures and seeking to understand facts when He invites me to catch a glimpse of His heart. I have at times read them for information while the very God of Heaven sat beside me, willing me to glance in His direction. But He has met in them, too. He has moved His finger along lines of tiny-Bible-font as He showed me what He’s done, what He’ll do. He has drawn me to Himself through the thin pages of an ancient word that is both living and active because the God that it reveals is living and active!
We can spend our whole lives reading about Him. We can search the world and the Scriptures for information about a God we might never know as more than theory. But if we fail to really engage Him, we will study Him the way we studied chemistry or French. We will know Him as fact, but we will never know Him as Father, as Shepherd, as Friend.
He promises more than knowledge. He promises relationship. He promises to make Himself known when He is sought. He promises eternal life, not in our understanding of Him but in our coming to Him.
Let’s dare this new year, to come before Him. Let’s read His Word in new light. Let’s soak it up like words from a precious Friend. Let’s do what He says, of course. But let’s do more than that. Let’s learn the way His voice sounds. Let’s get to know the way His presence feels. Let’s beg Him that any bit of knowledge we gain about Him would be matched by greater intimacy with Him.
That morning at the Garden Tomb, standing before an ancient winepress, my heart stirred with a fresh love for the Savior. My eyes stared at stones laid by long-dead masons; my soul saw the Lord. My flesh stood before a ruin; my spirit knelt before the throne of God.
May we never miss Him as we walk though His world or read through His Word.
What is it that you’re wondering? Perhaps it weighs heavy on your heart. Perhaps it is just a gentle, passing question, one on which very little rests. Whatever it is, bring it before Him. Speak it aloud. Write it down. I don’t know, just ask Him. If we’ll come before Him, I’m not sure He’ll always give us the answers we seek, but I’m certain that He’ll meet us right there.
You see, it wasn’t really ever about a winepress. And it isn’t just about the Scriptures, holy and sacred as they are. It is about the God who met me at the winepress. It is about the One of whom the Scriptures speak.
And He is worth every ounce of our seeking.