Throughout Scripture God descends to human beings. Jesus’ incarnation is the ultimate divine descent, but God began descending to humans as far back as the garden of Eden.
After Adam and Eve sinned, “they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” and they hid (Gen. 3:8). They hid because they recognized the sound and they recognized the sound because they had heard it before. God had previously visited them.
Divine descent continued: God called Abraham to leave his country and then promised to bless him (Gen. 12:1-3); at a young age Joseph received dreams of his future (Gen. 37); Moses heard God calling him at the site of the burning bush (Ex. 3); and the prophets received visions and words from God.
While Jesus’ incarnation was the grand culmination of this pattern of divine descent, it wasn’t the end of it. After Jesus’ ascension, God continued to descend to his people through the sending of his Spirit (Acts 2, 4, 10, 19). There are even times when the Spirit is described as falling on people (Acts 10:44). Finally, we are eagerly waiting for Christ to descend a second time to bring salvation and the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21; Heb. 9:28).
What’s the point? Our relationship with God begins with God. We cannot move toward God without God first moving toward us. We cannot work ourselves up to God. God must first come down to us. As John said, “We love because he first loved us” (1 Jn. 4:19).
So how do we live a life of constant communion with God? It doesn’t start with us. If we get frustrated with ourselves because we keep failing to pray often or read the Bible frequently it will only lead to a cycle of despair. The spiritual life begins with God coming to us. Our minds need to be filled up with the thought of divine descent. Christ comes down to us and knocks on the door of our hearts. Christ comes to us. Christ visits us. That thought properly pondered will lead to a response of love and devotion enabling us to sail past the breakers of legalism.
But here’s the clincher: The thought of divine descent and more importantly the reality of divine descent must occur on a regular basis or we will eventually fall into legalism. The spiritual life not only begins with divine descent, it’s also maintained with divine descent. We need visitations from God to keep the spiritual life fresh. As David prayed, “I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O LORD, do not delay” (Ps. 70:5).