The Taj Mahal is one of the wonders of the world. Built before modern technology, it took at least 22 years to build and thousands of people contributed to it’s marble detailing. The grounds where it resides are completely symmetrical and its design well thought out. The story behind it seems to be one of great romance – the king designed it and had it built to honor his favorite wife. Visiting the monument has sat at the top of my bucket list for years.
I was a true tourist as I wander the grounds, half paying attention to our tour guide, half taking pictures with my selfie stick. I tried to memorize every detail and take note of the almost spiritual experience.
The sheer magnificence of the Taj Mahal is incredible. Each piece of marble was individually cut and inlaid into the building with such care. As our team walked around the site, I was mesmerized not only by the structure, but also by a God whose love far exceeds the beauty of one of the wonders of the world. If an imperfect man would build such a monument to his dead wife, what more would God be willing to do for His children?
As we celebrate the Christmas season, we’re reminded that He would do nothing short of come down from Heaven, in human form, live a perfect life, suffer, die and rise again to unite Himself to us.
And yet this isn’t the love that the world usually recognizes. A man who rode into Jerusalem on a donkey doesn’t seem to compare to this magnificent structure. A brutal death on a cross doesn’t feel like it can compare to millions of dollars in marble.
And it shouldn’t. Only a heart changed by Jesus can recognize this type of love. To the naked eye, humility and sacrifice appear to be counterfeit when compared to the glamour the world has to offer.
But for those of us who have experienced God’s love and saving grace, we know that the best moments on this earth are only glimpses of what Heaven has to offer. We cannot and will not fully understand the greatness of God’s love for us on this side of Heaven. When we stand face to face with the King of kings and Lord of lords, we will be driven to our knees in worship. The shock and awe of walking the Taj Mahal grounds will not even compare to the glory of Heaven.
It’s easy to believe that the story starts on Christmas in a stable with a perfect baby boy whose arrival was announced with a bright star and angels. But we know better. It started thousands of years before that, in a perfect garden with two imperfect people, who because of their sin ran from God’s presence. Leading up to the birth of Christ, we hear stories of all the chances God gave His people to reconcile themselves to Him. Christ’s coming was the beginning of the end.
Just like the story didn’t start in the manger, it didn’t end on the cross. Those who hope in Christ know He will one day return to call us home. But until then, we relish the experiences that give us glimpses of His glory. We delight in chances to better understand who He is through what He has created. It’s these glimpses that make the sufferings seem small when compared to what we believe His glory to be. And sometimes these glimpses happen in far away lands while standing in amazement at what a man made.
What one man created for his wife cannot even compare to what God has in store for the children who He loves.