I have recently been reflecting upon how staggering and humbling it is that at any point during the day I can personally speak to the all-knowing, all-powerful deity who created me.
That's a bit of a staggering thought, really.
Just consider for a moment the power, awesomeness, and ultimate greatness of God. Not god, but God. Sadly, many do not fully comprehend this greatness.
Allow me to give you two examples.
God is an awesome Being, and I imagine it would be quite paralyzing and terrifying to even look upon Him. In the Bible, Moses, a faithful prophet of God who one would think would certainly be in union with God, was only allowed to see God’s back, because otherwise, if he saw God's face he would surely die (“You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live” – Exodus 33:20).
We, like Moses, have little clues about what God actually looks like, but I suspect from the clues that we do have that He is definitely not an old man with a white beard clad in a soft robe sitting on a cloud and strumming a harp. Neither is He a magical, wispy fairy who flitters about sprinkling glitter throughout the universe. In addition, He is surely not what Hollywood portrays Him to be, such as a nice man in a white suit as depicted in Jim Carrey's film Bruce Almighty.
In Isaiah 40:15-17, God says of Himself, “Behold, the nations are as a drop in a bucket, and are counted as the small dust on the scales; look, He lifts up the isles as a very little thing. And Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor its beasts sufficient for a burnt offering. All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless.”
God goes on to say in verses 18-19, “To whom then will you liken God? Or what likeness will you compare to Him? The workman molds an image, the goldsmith overspreads it with gold, and the silversmith casts silver chains.”
In other words, it is impossible for us tiny, feeble humans to fully picture the power and glory of God in our current physical state, nor to fashion or carve any type of image that portrays what He looks like, but it is something altogether mind-blowing. It is beyond our wildest imaginations.
Yet, we often portray God as merely a “special friend,” a magical fairy in the sky, and a white-bearded old man.
But God is dangerous. Fierce. Wild. He is a great, roaring lion like the Aslan of Narnia I describe here.
In this article, author Doug Jones portrays a fitting description of God's fierceness, wildness, and dangerousness. He says:
“…in our pietism, though, we tend to insist that God is primarily Nice. Period. God is Nice and Nicer and Nicest. The chief end of God is to be Nice. I believe in God the Nice. Maker of Niceness. In heaven, we’ll all be Nice. Pilate wasn’t Nice. He was mean, and “mean people suck.” This whole modern Christian litany is so tedious and tiny. Of course, other people—equally foolish—think the solution is to be rude and mean. Yeah, God isn’t nice; He’s rude. But Yahweh is neither Nice or Rude: He is dangerous and unpredictable.
He is Trinity. He is Fire, and fire is hard to contain. Sometimes all the advanced firefighting technology gets overcome in a canyon by a storm of flames. Sometimes people freeze next to a tiny flame. Fire’s edges won’t stand still; its borders aren’t easily traced. “Our God is a consuming fire.” God’s command for Abraham to sacrifice Isaac came right from the center of flame. As H. A. Williams notes, “Whatever God wants in our relationship with Him, it certainly isn’t respectability.
”To Moses He was fire. To Ezekiel He wore the symbols of ox, eagle, lion. To Jonah He was a man-eating fish. To Balaam He spoke through donkey lips. Yahweh boasts in animals, especially wild ones. “For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine” (Ps. 50:10,11).
The Lord seems to especially loves His horses: “Have you given the horse strength? Have you clothed his neck with thunder? He mocks at fear, and is not frightened; nor does he turn back from the sword. He devours the distance with fierceness and rage; nor does he come to a halt because the trumpet has sounded. At the blast of the trumpet he says, `Aha!’ He smells the battle from afar” (Job 39:19-25). He loves it that they refuse to stop at the trumpet. What kind of God says that?
Yahweh reveals His dangerousness in hawks and eagles too. They are His artwork, revealing more of His style: “Does the hawk fly by your wisdom. . . . Does the eagle mount up at your command and make its nest on high? On the rocks it dwells and resides, on the crag of the rock and the stronghold. From there it spies out the prey; its eyes observe from afar. Its young ones suck up blood; and where the slain are, there it is.” (Job 39:26_30). The NIV gives, “His young ones feast on blood.” But why the detail about blood? Do we really need that? Can’t we just talk about porcelain doves? No, God is gloriously dangerous and noble like an eagle. Solomon recognized that “the way of an eagle in the air” is just “too wonderful” (Prov. 30:18,19).
Yahweh reveals Himself in a cheetah kill. Oh, those nice, soft, delicate antelopes. It would be nice to pet them. They should be protected. “Can you hunt the prey for the lion, or satisfy the appetite of the young lions?” (Job 38:39). God can. He’s on the run and right in the middle of the lion kill. He boasts in giving them food. He satisfies lions.
Does that mean God hates deer? He’s made them just for food? Of course not. He boasts in them too. “Can you mark when the deer gives birth? Can you number the months that they fulfill? Or do you know the time when they bear young? They bow down, they bring forth their young, they deliver their offspring. Their young ones are healthy, they grow strong with grain; They depart and do not return to them” (Job 39:2-4). He loves them and sometimes loves to feed them to lions. That’s the God of Abraham.”
A fire, an ox, an eagle, a lion, a man-eating sea monster, a wild stallion, and a soaring eagle? This certainly doesn't seem like a nice old man in the sky, does it? Doug goes on to say:
“…God is dangerous, wild, and unpredictable. He is dynamite and a kidnapper. That’s the God of Abraham…the God of Abraham does not pen Hallmark cards. He is not a corporate risk manager. He is not a cruise director aiming to make our trip as pleasant and comfortable as possible. He is here to overturn tables and create people who can run alongside Him. “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?” (Jer. 12:5). He wants a people like horses, people whose necks are “clothed with thunder,” “mock at fear,” and do not stop at the sound of the trumpet. It’s not about power; it’s about character and tension and Trinity.
In the midst of this intricate play of history, tension is normal. Trials and evil are normal. How dare we be surprised by evil? How dare we wish it away, pining for the nursery? That is not the world of the God of Abraham. Williams, again, observes, “Conflict . . . is absolutely necessary if our relationship with God is to grow into maturity. And unless this absolute necessity is recognized, we shall misunderstand what is happening to us and be weighed down by an appalling load of guilt; or we shall press the conflict so that it can find only a sneaking and perverted expression below the level of consciousness while we apparently remain God’s good little boys, futile and ineffective half-people.”
For some reason beyond our understanding, this wild, fierce and dangerous God also allowed for conflict, turmoil, evils, thorns, thistles, poisonous snakes and spiders, natural disasters, and the like. This does not seem like a Being to ignore, take lightly or take for granted, does it?
So we know that God is wild, fierce, and dangerous, and we also don't know what He looks like. However, and this leads me to my second point, we can catch tiny glimpses of God's greatness in the fierce beauty of His Creation.
In Romans 1:20, the apostle Paul states that God’s nature, glory, and power are clearly demonstrated in our physical world: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead…”
Just think for a moment about the incredible nature of the very planet you walk upon. It is precisely the correct distance from the sun to keep us all from being struck dead by a powerful, burning source of star energy that, in a single second, converts four million tons of matter into pure energy—ninety billion megatons of energy, to be precise.
At the top of our earth's atmosphere is a layer of ozone that filters out most of the harmful ultraviolet light radiated from this sun and allows for a perfect temperature and ratio of gases to sustain life. Additionally, our atmosphere contains a specific and perfectly proportioned ratio of gases that allow life to exist here on earth. Of this sun, and also all its sister stars, David says in Psalm 19:1, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.”
And how about those stars that go beyond the sun? The number of stars in the universe is unknown, since every time scientists peer deeper into space, they find still more stars. David Kornreich, an astronomer at Ithaca College in New York, gives a rough estimate of 10 trillion galaxies in the universe. Multiplying that by the Milky Way’s estimated one hundred billion stars results in approximately 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, or a one with twenty-four zeros after it (which Kornreich mentions is likely a gross underestimation, as more detailed looks at the universe will show even more galaxies).
Then think beyond the earth, the sun, and the stars and consider the unbelievable complexity of animals. Take an eagle, for example. Job 39:26-29 says: “Does the hawk fly by your wisdom, and spread its wings toward the south? Does the eagle mount up at your command, and make its nest on high? On the rock it dwells and resides, on the crag of the rock and the stronghold. From there it spies out the prey; its eyes observe from afar.”
It turns out that eagles truly do have incredible eyesight. The eagle eye is among the strongest in the animal kingdom, with an eyesight estimated at 4 to 8 times stronger than that of the average human. An eagle is said to be able to spot a rabbit over 2 miles away!
Then you can go even tinier than the eye and consider our cellular enzymes themselves. The more scientists look into cells and enzymes, the more complexity they find. I briefly mentioned this complexity in last week's roundup feature of the book In Six Days, where I describe that…
“…only enzymes produce the pure amino acids and sugars necessary for life, but enzyme manufacture requires a living cell. Life is based on life. Then there is the insurmountable problem of getting even one functional enzyme by random processes, even if you could get all the ingredients assembled together. Let us consider just one enzyme comprised of a typical 300 amino acids. Even if we are generous to the materialist and assume that only 150 amino acids have to be specified for the function of the enzyme, the probability of getting a functional sequence is less than 1 in 10. We cannot imagine such an improbability. There are possibly 1080 atoms in the universe. If we made every atom in our universe another universe just like ours, and every one of those atoms were an experiment for every millisecond of the presumed evolutionary age of our universe, this would amount to 10181 experiments – still a long way short of even the remotest chance of getting one functional enzyme. That's just one enzyme. This simplest living cell must have at least several hundred enzymes/proteins…”
You can read more about the complexity of cellular life at “Intelligent Design: Can Science Answer the Question, Does God Exist?,” “Irreducible Complexity,” and “Origin of Life: Are Single Cells Really Simple?”.
This blazing sun, trillions of stars, a protected planet, eagle eyes, cells, and enzymes are obviously just scratching the surface of examples of how God's complexity and greatness shine through in all of Creation.
Ultimately, God's image and God's creation are spectacular and awe-inspiring. God's dangerous nature is fear-striking and terrifying.
Yet how rarely do we consider the amazing notion that this all-powerful Creator of this entire universe walks among us each day?
How rarely do we consider that we can talk to Him whenever we would like? How more rarely do we actually make any attempt to do so?
Despite being given the privilege of being in union with the greatest being this universe has every know, most of us spend the majority of our lives disconnected from God, or ignoring the laws He has established for our existence, order, and happiness. These laws, laid out clearly in the greatest book that has ever existed, are not suggestions or tips from a special friend. They are Commandments from our Creator.
I don't know about you, but it gives me pause to consider the grave consequences of ignoring this God, avoiding union with this God, and discounting the wild, fierce, dangerous, complex, mind-blowingly intelligent nature of this God.
Union With God
Yet, magically, this same all-powerful God continues to walk among us mere humans. And, as I alluded to in the introduction to this article, we can actually talk to him. To me, this concept is simultaneously breathtaking and humbling.
Consider the words of Genesis 3:8, which says, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” We know that God is spirit (John 4:24), so how exactly could He be “walking” in the garden?
This verse begins by stating, “They heard the sound” of God. Whatever form God took when he walked in the garden of Eden, his form somehow allowed for the audible production of sound. The verse also describes the presence of God among the trees of the garden. Do you think God still walks among us? Or do you think that God created this entire complex universe to please Himself and bring Him the greatest glory imaginable, then simply decided to “walk away” and never dwell among us again, instead opting to observe us from a distance while playing a harp on a far-off cloud?
And he walks with me and he talks with me
And he tells me I am his own
And the joy we share
As we tarry there
None other has ever known.
Yes, God walks among us. He talks to us. We are allowed to be in union with Him. And—at least for me—that's a pretty humbling and staggering thought to consider.
So don't take for granted the ability to be in daily union with the mightiest King that has ever existed—to walk with Him, talk with Him, and share his joy.
That union is a privilege we all-too-often take for granted.
So I have three simple suggestions for you to maintain your union with God.
First, take everything to God in prayer. He will grant you wisdom and discernment if you ask for it. He will give you answers. All you need do is ask. This week, every day, even with the smallest of decisions, consider coming to God with questions such as “What should I eat?,” “Who should I ask about this problem?,” “What task should I tackle first?”. Then simply stop, breathe, and listen for the still, small voice in the silence. He will give you direction.
Second, stop at a few points during your busy day, once again breathe, and simply survey the wonders of Creation around you and speak to God a simple phrase: “I am here. Speak to me and show me what You want to teach me.” Then, once again, be silent and listen. God's words to you will once again come in the still, small silence. He may ask you to pray. To open a Bible. To call a family member or friend. To step away from work for a moment to meditate or worship. I have personally found the simple “I am here” habit a few times during the day to be a powerful way to stay in union with God.
Finally, be grateful and stop to thank God multiple times during the day. In my article on breathwork, I told you:
“…each night, as I fall asleep to the gentle diaphragmatic lull of my own “4-count-in-8-count-out” breathwork pattern, I'm silently thanking God and trusting God that there will be yet more oxygen available for me for my next inhale. Indeed, the mere act of mindful breathing combined with a silent gratefulness to God for each and every breath is a wonderful practice, and one I recommend you try the next time you're stuck in twenty minutes of traffic. After all, our great Creator smiles when we worship Him, and I certainly think that no king would complain of a subject entering their throne room for several minutes and saying with the deepest gratitude with each breath…”Thank you…thank you…thank you…”
But don't just thank Him with your breath. Thank Him before a meal. Thank Him when you see a bald eagle soaring overhead. Thank Him when you're stuck in traffic. Thank Him when you get a good e-mail. Thank him when you get a bad e-mail. Thank Him when a loved one hugs you. Thank Him in all things.
Those three simple habits are all it takes to begin your journey into full daily union with God…
…”What should I do?”…
…”I am here.”…
Try it out each week, and I think you'll be amazed and surprised at how God speaks to you when you actually speak to Him, then stop to listen, and as you do so, consider that you are listening to the most wild, fierce, dangerous, complex Being this world has ever known. For more on maintaining constant, unceasing union with God, I also highly recommend you read the book Practicing His Presence, a 300 year old book that has never been out of print and that will teach you how to engage in a journey that brings you closer to Christ each day.
How about you? Do you ever ponder the absolute power of God, and the near overwhelming privilege of being able to converse and be in union with an almighty Creator of the universe each day? Are you blown away by His simultaneous dangerousness and love? Leave your own thoughts, comments, and experiences below.