The Branch

It’s hard to astonish God. After all, he’s seen everything. But one of the most remarkable things about humans is their ability to find a way to astonish the Person who created the Universe.

Since Yahweh is a real God, who often does exceedingly abundantly more than we can imagine, it is amazing that many in the world settle for a God that can do nothing.

In Isaiah, we see God’s bewilderment as He describes a man who cuts down a branch, splits it in two, and burns one half to both warm himself and cook his food. The rest of the log he worships, looking for protection and guidance. As he holds the dead wood in his hand, he imagines he sees something greater than himself, but it is not. What the man can not see is that he holds in his hand a lie, for how can something smaller than man possibly be his refuge and his God?

So, should we make God smaller than He is in order to escape the fear that we will find ourselves lost and abandoned in the boundless ocean of a being who has no bounds? Can we trust a God whose thoughts we can never fully know or understand, who would not tell us if He were hungry?

This is the question most Christians still struggle with. We want The LORD to be someone we understand, someone who fits within the confines of our imagination and experience. We want a familiar place to rest, a comfortable refuge for our hearts, but this cannot be. The LORD will never be small enough for us to control.

The baby nestled in her father’s arms can never know when she will be put down, when her cries will bring her father back, or when she will be left alone, waiting for his return. The child does not know what tomorrow, or even the next hour, may bring, nor ever will. The promises of her father, implicit in his love, is all there is to lean on. It must be enough, for there is nothing else that can be done or explained.

As Job struggled with Yahweh, his friends gathered to help him make sense of the Creator who had pulled the rug out from under him. Surely, they explained, a righteous God would not afflict a righteous man with unendurable suffering. Detailing the motives and methods of Yahweh, they sought to dislodge Job from what he knew to be true, to shrink God into the minuscule box of ethics and human comprehension. Job remained unmoved and in his agony declared, for all to hear, what the LORD had done to him.

Perhaps, Eliphaz argued, Job was, indeed, righteous. But the LORD had brought suffering to nurture some dark aspect of Job’s soul. In reply, Job declares, “God has done nothing but hurt me, though I will trust Him unto death.”

Job accepted the LORD exactly as He is. Baring his heart, Job gazed into the face of Yahweh. Rejecting his friends’ call to shrink the unsearchable depths of Yahweh’s wisdom into the size of a shoebox, Job realizes the vastness of God’s being can never comfortably fit inside the tiny minds of men.

Humans want a God who is not larger than life, who is smaller than man.

This will never do, for God intended to give us more than we can ask or imagine. Our destiny is tied up with His own now, and Yahweh is larger than the future that lies before us.

33 O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!

   34 For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor?

   35 Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again?

   36 For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Romans 11:33-36