The city of Cusco was but a small Peruvian town in 1949, but to this 10-year-old lad, the son of missionary parents, it was home. Far from being the tourist mecca it has become today, it was a typical Andean city of some 60,000 residents, with one short, gravel runway, only one Hotel we could recommend, and no restaurants of note. The streets were of stone, and the churches were magnificent, and reminders of the city’s Inca heritage could be seen throughout the city.
Sunday mornings were different from any other I have experienced during my many years in South America. Some time around 8 a.m. church bells began to ring, calling the faithful, most of whom did not own a clock, to Sunday Morning Mass. Each church had a distinctive set of bells and as the noise of perhaps twenty churches reverberated across the city and bounced off the surrounding hills, it was an early-morning wake-up call I will never forget.
If you ever have the chance, a visit to Cusco will be the highlight of your traveling experiences. There is a difference, however, between enjoying a quick visit to the city or to Machu Picchu and living there. A few days in the mountain air gives you only a glimpse of what this Andean culture is all about. You must go shopping in the open market, converse with someone who speaks little but Quechua, and survive the taxing demands of catching your breath at 11,000 feet. A quick visit will never do; you must become a part of the culture.
You may be wondering where I am going with all of this … so, to the point.
There is a difference in knowing about God and truly knowing Him. We want to spend eternity with God, but we’d be pleased if He’d leave us to our own agenda. We want happiness without holiness, success without self-discipline, sanctification without sacrifice.
But until you experience a relationship with God for yourself you don’t know what Christianity is all about. God has no grandchildren; you cannot inherit your parents’ faith. This is one discovery you must make for yourself.
And it is then, and only then, that you find God to be far different from the stern, demanding, autocrat He is sometimes pictured to be. He everything you would expect from a compassionate, understanding, and patient Father.
Living for God is not a spectator sport. You can’t sit on the sidelines. It is only as you become a part of the action, face the enemy of your soul and overcome the influence of sin, that you find a reason to cheer.
Promises must be put into practice. The theoretical must become experiential. The talk must be sanctioned by your walk. What you claim you must live. To know about Him is one thing; living for Him is something else … and you won’t know what you’re missing until you do.