A tamed and chained God?


“Awesome!” Do people still use that word? I remember the morning, 41 years ago, when my firstborn son was laid in my arms after watching the stunning spectacle of birth. I trembled and wept in that moment, feeling deep joy and overwhelming responsibility for that new life. It was awesome! There was that Sunday morning when I was commissioned to serve as the pastor of a small congregation in New England where, as he presiding superintendent prayed for me, I was physically shaking, knowing that people would trust me for guidance in serving and knowing the Lord. On that day that Bev lay dying, sorrow was terribly present. I held her close and as her final breath softly brushed my cheek, I also felt an awesome Presence, the Mystery of the Eternal closer than ever to me.

Job, whose story is told in the complex book bearing his name, went through tragedy that was beyond human limits. His ‘friends’ showed up to tell him that it was all his fault, that if he would but confess his sins, life would be righted and God’s blessings restored. Job finally explodes in anger. “How I long for the months gone by, for the days when God watched over me, when his lamp shone upon my head and by his light I walked through darkness!” (Job 29:2-3, NIV)  The words do not adequately convey his sense of loss, his rage at the apparent injustice of God.

In a long discourse, Job remembers all that he has lost.  He asks God to speak up and explain Himself.   But, the Lord never does. What we read are several chapters that laud His majesty as revealed in the earth. “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” (Job 38:2-4, NIV)   Job humbles himself and speaks that memorable phrase. “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer— twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:4-5, NIV) That is not a sigh of resignation! That is a declaration of faith that flowed from a new revelation of the awesomeness of God.

Will you let God fill you with a sense of awe?  Our knowledge makes us believe that we know the mysteries of the universe.  To be sure, I am so thankful for penicillin, for airplanes that can carry me to see my family, for the digital world that keeps me connected.  Yet, in all this knowledge, there is an arrogance that can creep over us,  bringing a delusion that we are in control. With that reductive attitude, we can miss the awesomeness of God, making Him small, remote, and uninteresting!  Great faith belongs to those who serve a great God.  If we imagine Him as less, if we tame Him, we chain Him.

Admitting there is mystery can be difficult for some of us. It may feel like a retreat into ignorance or superstition.  It may leave us uneasy because of the realization that we are, in fact, small and with much less control over life than we would like to feel.  But, in the mystery, there is majesty.  Let’s not make God small enough to fit into our preconceptions, to serve our every desire.  Instead, may we let Him be the God who rules with might.  Today, make your prayers less about getting something from Him and more about pure worship. Try this – read the 18th Psalm aloud as your prayer. Let the words inspire. Do not take them apart, try to reduce them to your understanding. Instead let them lift you up into a place where you tremble before Him.  (A link to that Psalm)

Here is a word from the Word.

“Then Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6, NIV)

“Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy in his dwelling place.” (1 Chronicles 16:22-27, NIV)

Abba, fill my mind with holy awe.
Forgive me for making You less,
For trying to explain those things that
Are mystery wrapped in majesty.

Increase my faith.

I desire to walk humbly before You
And to know Your power in me.
I pray this in the Name of Jesus. Amen

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