Long before we knew the dangers of sun-baking, like thousands of other Aussies, I used to love sun-baking. I grew up in the 70’s living on the waterfront with a private jetty and that was one of our favourite spots as kids. The back concrete path behind the retaining wall was also a good spot because it was so private. Many Summers, mum, my sister and I would lie out there on our bamboo mats or towels, listening to the transistor radio, hardly speaking but just soaking in the sun and inhaling the smell of the coconut oil.
When I grew old enough to drive myself places, I would venture on down to the beach on my own and do the same thing. I’d lie there for hours going in and out of sleep, to the sound of the local radio station over the surf club’s loud speakers. It was bliss.
These days I enjoy sitting in the sun, fully clothed mind you, at the side of the house in the rocking chair, with my eyes closed listening to the quiet and the bird life. I find some magical kind of refreshing and life penetrating my soul all the way in to my spirit, when I sit in the sun like that. Especially first thing in the morning.
As I was relishing in the utter joy of this the other morning, it took me back to those days of sun-baking. The sensation was essentially the same. I could almost smell the coconut oil. And then, as gentle as a breeze, it came to me….
Son – baking. I used to sun-bake, now I Son – bake. Similarly, to how I used to behold the sun, I now behold The Son. I realised that sun-baking is a shadow and type of beholding the Lord. When we sun-bake we are intentionally turning our entire being and attention to be absorbed by the sun. We shuffle around to make sure we are as exposed to the sun as much as we possibly can be. We stay there for hours at a time, and the sun is our highest priority for that time. Even though our thoughts may wander in and out, and we may even fall in and out of sleep in its warmth, we are utterly surrendered to it. We are practically drugged by it. We’re even changed by it, as our skin changes colour.
I’ve learnt that beholding the Lord is similar. It is an intentional turning to the Lord. It is abandoning everything else, for this allotted length of time devoted wholly to gazing into Him and basking in His glory and light. We seek nothing else but to be as exposed to Him as we possibly can be and we cast everything else aside to do so. Our thoughts may wander in and out but we soak Him in and His glorious rays of light penetrate our heart as He communes with us in the seat of our spirit. And we are changed by this experience, only on the inside. Although we can recall Moses’ face being so radiant with light after being in the presence of the Lord, that he had to veil his face so others wouldn’t be blinded. Wow! That’s crazy!
This word ‘behold’ was foreign to me a few years back. I’d only ever heard it in old hymns and I thought it was some old English word we didn’t really use anymore. Oh, it is so much more than that! It has become such a precious verb in the vocabulary of so many saints these days. Those gone before us really knew something of the Lord by using the word ‘behold’. It’s like, when we behold Him, there’s no words necessary, we’re not praying or bringing petitions before the Lord, we are just sitting and looking into Him, not ‘out’ or ‘up’ there but inward to where He resides. We’re not even imagining what He looks like but somehow, by intentionally being present as when we sun-bake, we are able to close our eyes and fix our internal gaze on Him, fixing our eyes on Jesus.
Beholding is something we can do at any time day or night as I talk about in my post titled You Can Find Rest Even When It Seems Impossible.
Imagine yourself at work, its Winter and you’re on your lunch or coffee break. You look for a spot outside the warehouse or office out of the wind, and in the sun, or maybe you grab a spot at the park. You pull up a chair or milk crate, and with your steaming hot cup of tea in your hands, you sit there in the sun with your eyes closed. You’ll often see even those who don’t know the Lord, doing this. It’s a moment of quiet, time to rest, time to draw aside from the goings on. It is a moment to behold the Lord. Take just a few minutes, 2 or 5 if you’re able, and without striving (this takes practise), just enter into His rest and fix your internal gaze upon Him. It’s as simple as sitting in the sun.
I say it is simple, but not necessarily easy since we always have an opponent setting out to distract us from our time in communing with our Lord. This is something addressed in a beautiful book on beholding the Lord written by Milt Rodriguez called The Temple Within. (Just click on the link).
If the concept of beholding the Lord is new to you, like it was to me, or if you just want further understanding and encouragement in this area of your life, I really recommend reading this book. It was an enormous help to me and I found it very easy to read.
One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)
We are that temple brothers and sisters! So enjoy your Son-baking experience today 🙂