Yeah, God’s that big… (a meditation on the God who cannot be contained)

All humans have these ceaseless yearnings…not simply because we are incomplete but because God is infinite. God’s wonder and beauty become overwhelmingly attractive because they are infinite and inexhaustible. ~ Os Guinness, Fool’s Talk

But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! ~ King Solomon, 1 Kings 8:27

Have you ever just sat back and stared up at the night sky? Away from cities, towns and lights the sky takes on a breathtaking beauty with thousands of pinpoints of light flooding in from millions upon millions of miles away.

On a clear night, I’m able to stand in my driveway with much of the ambient light blocked by two large oak trees, look straight up, and see the hazy band of the Milky Way stretched across the dark canvas. But perhaps nowhere have I seen the sky so filled as while standing in the bush of Zambia, an hour or so away from the nearest city.

It’s one of those moments where you realize the universe is a big place. Bigger than we can really even begin to comprehend. Billions of galaxies filled with millions if not billions of stars, and we are but one tiny speck.

The bigness and beauty of the universe are signposts pointing to the infinite bigness and unmatched beauty of God.

Solomon captured this when he dedicated Israel’s first temple. Up until that point, the Ark of the Covenant, where God at times manifested his glory in blinding light and thick smoke, had moved along with the people and rested in a tent. King David desired to build a permanent home, a temple for the Ark to rest, but God told him no. Instead his son would build it. So Solomon, after the people had received rest from their enemies, built a temple grand and magnificent. Yet in dedicating it, Solomon realized that even with all the pomp and grandeur the temple at best was a tiny symbol. The universe itself could not contain God, how much less this temple?

osguin01In his book Fool’s Talk, Os Guinness argues that each person has a restless longing within their hearts—a longing for greater meaning, greater purpose, greater joy, and greater experience; a longing for something more. This restlessness is our longing for God whether we realize it or not.

On the one hand, a barrier exists because of mankind’s fall into sin. We chose to replace God with something much smaller, most prominently our own desire to be self-defining and in charge. Yet rebellion against our Creator did not bring a lasting happiness or satisfaction. Rather, it left us with a void we could not fill. So God gave us Jesus to rescue us from our rebellion and to reunite us to his goodness.

Yet even then, we still crave—another barrier: God is infinite, large beyond imagination; we are finite, small. When we receive of his grace, our hearts begin to long to know him fully; yet him being infinite there is always more to know, discover, and explore. This craving is good because it pushes us to plumb the depths of God more and more.

It is as we dive deeper into God we find that he is, as Jesus said, the bread that calms hunger and the water that quenches thirst (John 6:33-35). And so we want more, not because we are unsatisfied but because we find true satisfaction in the overwhelming greatness and unending beauty of God.

God is that big and he calls us to learn to delight in him through the work of Jesus and the Holy Spirit within. God is that big and he calls us to help others see the joy of true delight in him.

This post is part of our ongoing journey through the Bible as a church.

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