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The Bible is full of stories of people who were confronted by God, of people whose lives were radically changed by their encounters with the Holy One. One thing we learn from each of these stories is that God is who He is (see Ex 3) and that His holiness had a profound impact on people (see Is 6:1-5, Rev 1:12-17).

So often, however, we crave the wrong thing, like pregnant women who want to suck coal! We want a cosy God who makes us feel comfortable and warm. Instead, we find ourselves confronted by a God who is a consuming fire (Heb 12:24). We want a God who will ignore our sin and wrongdoing (and punish everyone else’s) and pat us on the back when we do something good. Instead we have a God with no blind spots, a God who is not deceived by appearances and who demands truth in the inward parts, a God who is wholly fair and with whom there is no favouritism. We want a God who makes no demands on us but who yields to our every demand. Instead, we are confronted by a God who demands from us total allegiance, unswerving obedience, blind trust, and often gives us no explanation and little consolation.

We want a God shaped in our image. But we are instead made in the image of God and His goal is that we are transformed into His likeness, not the other way around.

Encounters with God are uncomfortable for us, for God will not change who He is for our pleasure. We have to choose between the God we want and the God who is. So many of us opt to worship the God we want, because that is easier. This God has no mystery. This God has no inexplicable actions or bewildering commands. Yet this God is actually an idol. He is not real.

We need instead to encounter and be confronted by the real God. The God who left Daniel, Ezekiel and John face down in awe and wonder. The God who loves us unconditionally, unceasingly and unfailingly. The God of perfect justice and mercy. The God of amazing grace and unlimited power. The God who is so much greater than the God we think we want. Only that God, the ‘I AM’, can meet the deepest needs of our hearts and transform us. Only that God will be enough for us.