Saturday, March 16, 2013

"...and all the day long." (In His Hands, Part II)

"[God] caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them. He cleaved the rock, and the waters gushed out." Isaiah 48:21

We all assume that God is arbitrary, that He is shooting from the hip and working off the cuff. It is natural for us to think so, for we are arbitrary, and we make God in our own image. Like pagans of old, we presuppose that the world and the universe are both fundamentally chaotic, and why wouldn't we? It is larger than us, and its laws (if it has any) are hidden from us. Men are mad with their violence and corruptions, and the earth is mad with its disasters and calamities. And there we stand, small and infinitesimal before it all, overwhelmed by constant floods of mixed messages, random actions, and indifferent nature.

Standing where we are, it is easy to shrink all souls to our own size, to think that if we're overwhelmed then everyone's overwhelmed, including God. He tries His best, of course, and His all-power and all-wisdom come in handy for cleaning up messes (when He gets around to them). But from our point of view, we cannot help but think that He to gets frustrated and can only make decisions on the fly. Perhaps we're being reverent when we think this, trying to "excuse" God; but we still think He's a bit out of His league.

The key, however, is "from our point of view". It is one of the greatest faults of humanity that we always reduce everything down to our size, to our position and place. It is understandable. We want sympathy with others; it helps us feel like we're not alone in our situation. But here's the thing: God already sees from our point of view, both as God (Ps. 103:13-14) and Man (Heb. 4:14-15). Thus, He is not in need of seeing from our position. On the contrary, we need to learn to see from His. If we do, then we will learn this startling, offensive truth: there is no arbitration in God; it is all plan.

Look at Israel. God knew beforehand that they would sin (Is. 48:3-8) and had already planned the purging, perfecting punishment (vs. 9-11). But he had also preplanned Cyrus to be their salvation from that punishment (Is. 45:1-7; 48:12-16), a salvation coming in spite of all their sins (Is. 48:17-21). He had already planned out the whole thing. The exile was not an accident, and Cyrus was not "Plan B". It was all "Plan A". God knows there is a snake in the garden, and He already has a Seed fit to crush its head. He is never surprised.

We are frequently surprised, however, because we only see from our finite position. One of the marks of growing in holiness and sanctification and spiritual maturity is being torn from your agoraphobic bubble and led into the big country of our big God. True, there are many layers to our bubbles, but if you belong to God He will pop every one of them to finally let in some air and light, clean like an ocean breeze and clear like the noonday sky. Even then we will have only just begun to comprehend the height and depth and length and breadth of the love of God, which covers all angles as well as a multitude of sins.

-Jon Vowell (c) 2013

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