Beliefnet
Prayer, Plain and Simple

Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest building, is set to open today in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Although the exact height of the Burj Dubai (Arabic for Dubai Tower) is a closely guarded secret, at more than 2,625 feet, it far surpasses its nearest rival, the Taipei 101 in Taiwan.  

We humans are always pushing upward, aren’t we. Whether climbing mountains, or shooting rockets to the moon, or piling up money or stock certificates, or building skyscrapers we’re unflinchingly motivated toward the skies. We always have been.

I think this as emblematic of our spiritual quest. We want to reach up to God. We long to be with him, to be close to him, and like him. And so we head toward the heavens…

The irony: Going “up” never allows us to touch God. The story in the Bible of the Tower of Babel depicts the universal human bent to “build a tower to the sky.”  But God himself was not amused at our efforts. He frustrated this ambition by confusing the interpersonal communication processes we use to become independent of his guidance.

No, instead of going up to find God, God himself has come down to find us. Our search upward is bound to frustration and folly. Every religion in the world seems bent on this quest – to help humans become spiritual and grow loose of the bounds of earthly flesh. But the surprising right course is instead to “go low.” Only when we walk in humility and allow God to come to our lives, where we are, can we hope to reach him. Then can lifts us up! Christmas was about this principle – God comes down to us, to bring us up to himself.

Towers all eventually fall. And this one will as well, eventually. In fact the signs of collapse are already appearing – Dubai, it turns out, is nearly bankrupt as a nation. So they have the tallest building… Now what?

“God, our instinct is to reach up to you. The irony is that the only way we can touch you is to allow you to come down to us, to relinquish our independent ambitions and permit you to find us, where and how we are. Only then can we climb high up into the amazing destiny you have for us! In Jesus…”

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