By Vince Antonucci
I like ideas to be simple and well defined. I prefer to put ideas in a nice, square box, then seal the top so nothing spills out between the cracks of the lid. So I am not a fan of paradoxes. They hurt my brain.
For instance, let’s say you have Pinocchio standing in front of you. (It could happen!) Pinocchio looks you right in the eye and says, “My nose will grow now.” Uh oh, we have a problem. He said his nose will grow. If it doesn’t, he was lying, but if he was lying his nose would grow. But if his nose does grow it means he was telling the truth, but if he was telling the truth, his nose wouldn’t grow.
My brain can’t take it!
God doesn’t fit in our boxes. He makes that clear in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” I think that means I’m never going to be able to figure God out.
I realize I should be glad for that. While my brain uses about twenty percent of my body’s energy, it only weighs about three pounds, and I have trouble answering the questions on Jeopardy. If I could fully understand God, he’d have to be less complex than the directions on my new IKEA furniture, and, I suspect, we’d all be in trouble.
So, God being beyond me is a good thing, but it twists my brain into a headache-inducing pretzel. I’ll show you what I mean…
God is omnipresent.
That’s the fancy, smart-guy way to say God is everywhere. So, God is everywhere – that doesn’t sound very convoluted or perplexing – but let’s think about the implications.
God is everywhere means that God is big, but it also means that God is small. The fact that God is everywhere means He’s the God of the cosmos and the God of quarks (Quarks are (debatably) the smallest pieces of matter we know of). He’s the God whose eyes “range throughout the earth” and He’s the God of my eyelashes.
God is big.
In Psalm 8, David writes, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. … When I consider your heavens, the works of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place…” (Psalm 8:1, 3). David considers the vastness of God, and he can’t wrap his mind around it. God is too big to comprehend.
God’s bigness lets me know there’s a reason for my longing for something eternal and unlimited. There’s something in each of us telling us that we were made for something beyond this world, beyond this life. Why is that? We were made for God, and God is a beyond God.
God is small.
In Psalm 139, David writes, “O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts … you are familiar with all my ways. … For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb … All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. … Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts” (Psalm 139:1-2, 3, 13, 16, 23). David considers the familiarity of God, the intimate way God is involved in every detail of his life, and it gives him incredible peace.
God is so small it’s comforting.
God’s smallness lets me know I never need to worry. That’s what Jesus said. When you have a God who is so small he’s counted the number of hairs on your head, freaking out is just a waste of time.
God is everywhere, which means He is big and He is small. But we’re not done exploring this theological riddle.
God is everywhere means that God is here, but it also means that God is there. The fact that God is everywhere means He’s everywhere I am, and also everywhere I am not. He’s here in my Christian home in my Christian nation, and He’s in the home of the atheist in the communist nation.
God is here.
God is everywhere I am. That’s a big deal. It’s more than just, Wherever I go, God is there. That is correct, and it’s a nice theological truth, but it doesn’t impact me much.
It really means, Wherever I go, God is with me. God promises, in Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.” God is with me.
God’s closeness gives me confidence because, well, if God is for me, who can be against me? And nothing can separate me from God. So I never walk into a room alone. Everywhere I go I am joined by a God who is my cheerleader, Secret Service agent, defense attorney, sherpa, and professional therapist.
God is there.
God is everywhere I am not. That’s also a big deal. Because it means I don’t have to be present for God’s presence to be present. When my son goes off to college, God is at the college. If terrorists try to sneak into our country, God is there. When my daughter is out with her friends, God is there. When I left the church I started in Virginia, God was still there.
In fact, I have learned that God is in the most unexpected places. God is on a bridge that a crystal meth junkie is about to jump off. He’s in cancer wards and prisons all over the country. He’s in tattoo shops, in a bus in Ecuador, at a porn convention, in NICU hospital units. I’ve witnessed God working in a meeting of an atheist group in a restaurant in Las Vegas, and in a meeting with atheistic communist officials in Southeast Asia.
Every time I’ve realized that God is where I am not, that God is working in places I never realized, it’s led me to worship. God is more amazing, more active, than I know, or could ever understand. How do I not fall to my knees and worship a God like that?
God’s omnipresence is overwhelming to consider. It’s infinitely more complex than this blog can express, but it’s also as simple as these 4 basic truths:
God is big: That’s why I long for something beyond, and I can smile knowing there’s more to this life.
God is small: That’s why I can be full of peace instead of stress.
God is here: That’s why I walk with confidence and live with a Spirit-centered boldness.
God is there: That’s why I can’t help but worship him.
Turns out what I really want is a big-small-here-and-there God. And I am glad God doesn’t fit into my box, even if it does make my brain hurt.
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