God Is Not A Formula
By March Villareal
Man is a curious creature. Not simply that man is interesting to
observe or that his ways are curious from an outsider looking
in, but rather Humans are naturally curious, a being always on a
search. We have an unquenchable drive to explore, study, take
apart, & understand. This is marked by our accomplishments over
the ages; from the invention of parachute to the exploration of
the moon. We are always pushing, always learning, always
seeking. And much like there are specific symptoms for various
diseases, this need to figure out everything around us is a
byproduct of a limited knowledge that we inherently have, or not
have, for that matter. We desire to conquer everything, even if
it's just in the realm of knowledge. And so this very human
quality inevitably bleeds into our relationship with God, and we
wrongfully assume that we can figure HIM out.
The Daily Bread had a key saying in one of its fall devotionals: "Do not study the Bible to quote it, but study it to obey it". Sadly we have treated our study of God and His word as we do everything else around us: as something to be conquered & learned. But God is not a formula. He is not simple. We cannot limit Him with what we know. We cannot put him in a box. We cannot figure Him out. The bible says He is incomprehensible. He is not imprisoned by our understanding. Those who have tried to pin God in the corner have been thoroughly disappointed. Do not misunderstand, I am not implying that God is an unpredictable madman who changes his mind and thrives on inconsistencies. Nor am I saying he is some kind of master riddler, who subjects his creation to mind-games and trickery--Not at all! I am only stating that an all- powerful, all-knowing, ever-present being cannot possibly be as simple as people will casually suppose HE is. Dr. Ravi Zacharias put it in such an awesome way, " If we can exhaustively talk about God, then he is not infinite". Simply put, if God can be defined and described in totality by our mere words and intellect then he is not as infinite, absolute, and big as we assume HIM to be.
What is the problem with formulas? After you have figured them out, you can automatically assume the answers. Things become predictable and you learn to trust your knowledge because you were good enough to figure it out. But God is a living God- with perfect wisdom, purpose, & plans. At times, because of our misunderstanding, or rather our wrong assumptions, we think He is inconsistent. It seems as though He changes HIS course or HIS mind. It appears at times that HE shifts gears too early or too late. But His consistency is rooted in HIS purpose & HIS plans. In Jeremiah Chapters 22-27, God pronounces judgment on the king of Judah for his wickedness and idolatry. The Lord reveals HIS plans to Jeremiah, that He will use the pagan nation Babylon to both save a few and destroy many. When the king learns of the approaching Babylonians, he seeks counsel from his priests as to what he shall do. The priests, who were not really hearing from God since they were also in sin, gave the seemingly logical answer. The "figured-out" answer. They proclaimed what they assumed God would say about a pagan nation: "we should fight!". Jeremiah, on the other hand, being a true prophet of the Lord, declared to the land and the king that God wants them to surrender to the Babylonians. The message of Jeremiah seemed so inconsistent and far-fetched to what "God would say", that his life was threatened if he continued this "foolish talk". In the end the many perished because they listen to people who were assuming about what God would do and say. People thought they had God figured out.
More stories like this fill the bible as Hosea is commanded by the Lord to marry a prostitute, as God chooses Paul to proclaim His kingdom while being an ex-murder of Christians, as a blameless & righteous man by the name of Job is robbed of his family, possessions, & pride. Why are we sometimes shocked when we study such things? Because we thought we had God figured out.
There is a truth that we must understand: knowing God is not the same as having HIM figured out. David said, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain" (Psalms 139:6). He continues saying, "Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom" (Psalms 145:3). God declares Himself, "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," (Isaiah 55:8). The Lord is higher, deeper, longer, bigger than what we can comprehend. Someone made a statement about our attempt to understand God as "trying to put the whole ocean in a single glass of water". It is impossible.
Can a tiny ant fully comprehend the dimensions of an elephant? No.
But our inability to fully grasp his totality is no reason for fear or hopelessness. Rather, it is a reason for more joy, more peace, more faith, and more comfort. Because though God is incomprehensible, He has made Himself knowable (Romans 1:19-20), and our peace does not hang on our ability to understand God, but in the knowledge that He loves us and He has a plan for us. My rest is not found in knowing what God is going to do next, rather it is fastened on the fact that He will make everything beautiful in His time. No doubt God will take us through winding roads, dark nights, & unpredictable weather. But the key is that "HE will take us"...
Knowing this allows me to be content with not knowing. Understanding this gives me joy in not understanding. For I serve a God who is deeper & higher than my thoughts or my ways and that's exactly how I want Him to be.
March M. Villareal is a Christian who just happens to like to write.