Faith, God, Perspective

Impressed: What Impresses You?

+Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

As we recently studied Mark 13 at church, the very first verse of chapter thirteen caught me and stopped me. It talks about how impressed the disciples were with the temple’s stones.

Mark 13:1 ~ “As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!’”

A little history according to Josephus:

  • The temple renovation began in 19 BC and was completed in 64 AD.
  • The stones were 40 feet long and 20 feet thick. They were white and highly polished.

 

It’s no surprise the disciples were so impressed with the temple, and its stones.

What impressed the disciples didn’t impress Jesus.

His words in verse two came true in AD 70, six years after the temple’s completion.

Mark 13:2 ~ “’Do you see all these great buildings?’ replied Jesus. ‘Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’”

Jesus viewed that temple with a different perspective than the disciples. While the disciples were impressed with the massive stones and the beautiful architecture, Jesus knew what was coming for Herod’s temple.

What caught me was the whole thought of the things that impress me don’t often impress God.

 

How many times have I been impressed by man’s accomplishments? Yes, some of them are truly amazing.

The Eiffel Tower—This structure was completed in 1889 for the World’s Fair. It took more than two years to build. The lattice work tower stands over 1,000 feet tall. And the four base pillars line up with the four points of a compass.

The Obelisk of Theodosius—This pink granite monument stands in the center of the Hippodrome in Istanbul. It was brought to Emperor Theodosius from Egypt. Though it was erected in 390 AD, it was carved in the 1400’s BC. The carvings and the sheer size (20 meters tall, originally 28 meters tall) of this obelisk made me feel insignificant, compared to its size and longevity.

 

There have been times when I’ve been so impressed with someone’s accomplishment. Maybe I’ve been a little envious that they were able to do something amazing. Maybe the sheer beauty of what they’ve built, or what they’ve done, left me in wonder.

When I focus on man’s accomplishments, I miss the bigger picture. I may fail to grasp Jesus’ perspective on the thing.

 

God isn’t impressed with what man can do. To think He is is to squeeze Him into man’s confines. He’s bigger than Canis Majoris, the largest star in the universe. If you want perspective on how big it is Louie Giglio has a great way of sharing in this video.

God created Canis Majoris. Can you even imagine how big He is? How infinite? How unfathomable?

It’s not wrong to admire what another person has done. It’s not wrong to be impressed by things men have built.

But, let’s not minimize how much bigger God is. He created every star and calls them by name. He runs an entire universe.

He knows every single person who ever has lived or is living, or will ever be born. He knows their hearts, their features, before they are ever brought into this world.

He creates individual petals on the tiniest of flowers. He weaves into the human heart passions, callings, and the capacity to love big.

 

When we think about what truly impresses us, maybe we shouldn’t stop at being impressed by what men can do. Maybe we should also ponder what God does and has done.

Maybe we should make sure we’re not taking anything He’s done for granted. Especially in the gift of salvation He’s given us.

Acts 15:11—“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.”

Instead of leaving us condemned under judgment, Jesus’ grace saves us.

Jesus suffered torture, died a beyond-painful death on the cross, and conquered death by rising again.

 

And why did He do this? Because He loves us. He doesn’t want us to face judgment. So, in His grace, He made a way for us to be set free.

Of all men’s creations, and of all of God’s amazing creations, the gift of salvation is what impresses me most.

What about you? What impresses you most about God? How do you balance the wonder at men’s accomplishments and the reality of God’s gifts to us?

Click to Tweet: God isn’t impressed with what man can do

Today I’m linking up with Holly Barrett’s Testimony Tuesday and Kelly Balarie’s #RaRaLinkup

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18 thoughts on “Impressed: What Impresses You?”

  1. Love this post, Jeanne, and the picture of mountains-and-cloudscape is…er…impressive.

    What impresses me? Well, I have a poster that reads, “Sorry, I can’;t hear you over the sound of how awesome I am!”

    So I guess I’m pretty impressed with myself. OK, you can stop laughing now, and don’t roll your eyes so far. They’ll get stuck.

    Seriously, what tends to impress me the most is God’s Heart made manifest in our world through the actions of individuals.

    Joe Eugene Mann is an example. A member of the 101st Airborne, he landed near Eindhoven in the ill-fated attack on the Netherlands, on September 17, 1944. Wounded in both arms on the next day, he was slated to be evacuated, but a German grenade was thrown into the fighting position in which he sat, arms bound immovable to his sides. He rolled onto the grenade, absorbing the blast with his body, and saving those around him. He only had time to say, “I think my back is gone,” before he died.

    Greater love hath no Man…or in this case, Mann.

    Yeah, that’s impressive.

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    1. Andrew, you always make me smile with your quips. And I tried not to roll my eyes too far back into my head. 😉

      I agree with your description of how God’s heart is made manifest through the actions of individuals. I’ve heard similar stories as the one you shared about Joe Eugene Mann. That kind of courage and character is definitely humbling and impressive in the purest of ways. Thanks for sharing this.

      Praying for you!

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  2. Excellent perspective! Whenever I find myself impressed by the accomplishments of others, it helps me to remember that God gifted and enabled them to achieve what they have. That reminds me He is behind it all! Blessings!

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    1. Thank you, Liz! I agree with you. Remember that God gives gifts and talents to each person as He knows they need them is a great way to keep our perspective on track. Thanks for sharing that mindset! And for stopping by. 🙂

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  3. I admit I get caught up in the little things around me as being impressive. I do see what others are doing and focus too much on their accomplishments. But as I was walking yesterday, I saw flowering trees, new leaves opening, lush greenery and knew that God created this beauty for us out of His deep love. I love how you say that what impresses you most is the gift of salvation. We are indeed blessed with a gift that is beyond all comparison and one that marks us as a beautiful child of God.

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    1. Mary, I am too easily caught up in the small things around me being impressive too. I have to remember to keep my eyes on Jesus rather than on what others are accomplishing. Your words reminded me of John 21 (I think) when Peter was asking what was going to become of the other disciple (John). Jesus reminded him that it didn’t matter to Peter what God would be doing with John.

      I am always amazed that God loves us so much that Jesus came to earth to offer us the gift of salvation. I’m humbled when I really stop to think about His sacrifice. And I like being marked as a child of God. 🙂

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  4. Jeanne, I have to go back to those big words I learned when I was a kid in Sunday school … God’s omnipotence, omniscience and especially His omnipresence are what impress me most. It blows my mind to think that He is everywhere, all the time, including with me! As far as the accomplishments of others are concerned, I do think about that some, but it helps to remember that God’s purposes and plans for me are not the same as His purposes and plans for them. Then it becomes a matter of trusting that He knows what He’s doing, which I guess is what faith is all about? Much to ponder here, my friend! 🙂

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    1. I love the “O” words, Lois. When I began to understand what they meant, I realized how truly awesome our God is. I like your way of keeping things in perspective. Remembering that God’s plans and purposes are different for each person is so good. It helps deter the comparison bug, doesn’t it? I’m so glad you shared your thoughts here. Thanks!!

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  5. Great thoughts to ponder, Jeanne. Just having returned from Savannah, Georgia with about 300 or so pictures on my camera card, I am quite impressed by what man has built. But it really is all God’s doing isn’t it? Man couldn’t build without being made in the image of our great creator. It is so important to remember it is ALL God, and we are blessed to use the gifts of creation He has given us!

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    1. I can imagine you found tons of great photo opportunities in Savannah, Lynn! I agree, it is God’s doing. No matter what man can build or accomplish, God is at the root of the ability, isn’t He? Yes, it is ALL God. Thank you for sharing your insight!

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  6. When I see “impressive” things man has made, I marvel at the gifts God has given to the one who has made it. Yet they always have to use materials that God created in the first place, don’t they? I also am impressed and inspired by the perseverance of some of these artists. For example, the dedication Michelangelo has in painting the Sistine Chapel, etc. But yes, there is nothing so impressive as God Himself and the salvation He has brought to us. And how He loves each of us as if there is only one of us. And how He displays His love and beauty in His creation and creatures. I love your nature photos, too, Jeanne! Love and hugs!

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    1. I agree, Trudy. God is the One who makes man able to do anything at all. I so appreciate your reminder that God also gives man what we need to do the hard, holy things. Accomplishments like the Sistine Chapel are testimony of God’s presence and ability and enabling. I like that example. Thank you, as always, for sharing your insights, Trudy!

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  7. Jeanne,
    I had the privilege of going to the Atlantis Resort on vacation one year. Everyone was ooohhhing and ahhhingg over what a magnificent structure it is and the human work and creativity that went into building it. Though it was nice, I couldn’t help but thinking that in 20 years it will begin to look old, and worn, and dated and will need renovation to keep it’s Ahhhh factor. What impresses me is how God puts so much detail into the small things like the variety of birds that come to my feeder – their different colors, shapes, feather detailing, habits, etc. as well as the magnificence of His big masterpieces like the mountains and the ocean, etc. Even the differences in the thousands of flower species out there. Who else but an awesomely creative God could design all these? When I look all around me, God’s creations always triumph over man’s.
    Blessings,
    Bev xx

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    1. Such a good point, Bev. Anything man builds will begin decaying, falling apart, especially if it isn’t maintained. I love God’s attention to detail too. The petals on a flower, the way certain leaves turn two colors (on the same leaf) in the fall, the beauty of His craggy mountains . . . They all remind me of how BIG God is, and how limitless He is. He really is amazing, isn’t He? Have a great Friday, friend!

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