Summary: We know, in the abstract sense, that God can do anything, but we have a problem believing that He’ll do anything for us.
Isa. 40:3-8(9-24; 38:4-8) 1 Sam. 17:36 2 Peter 3:8-13 Ps. 34:18-19
I was reading recently about the island of Mindoro in the Philippines. It’s a beautiful tropical island which had been popular as a tourist attraction and a place to live – popular that is – until August 26 this year. That’s when it was struck by an earthquake of over 7.0 intensity. The ground shook, roads started cracking and bridges fell. Then a tsunami came. Many were drowned.
To see the disaster on the news was almost hypnotizing in the magnitude of the tragedy. That’s when I began to think about our own lives. When our lives begin to shake, when the very foundations of where we’re standing seem unsure, we can all be thrown into confusion just like those victims in Mindoro. Some might say that living in California tends to prepare us for such things, but does it ever? When even the earth we’re standing on seems unsafe, where can anyone find security? (illustration from SermonCentral.com)
Times like these remind us that the church needs a realistic view of God. When tragedies enter our lives, our view of God sometimes proves too small; probably because we’re too overwhelmed. At such times, God can seem far off.
Does God ever seem to you like a majestic king sitting on a throne but quite distant in some third heaven? Is that our image of God?
For whatever reason, I’ve recently become aware that many of us grew up without having a clear idea of God’s nature. Having a limited view of God can be very discouraging when we’re struck by overwhelming problems in this life.
That reminds me of a story about a man in a hot air balloon who realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I’m lost."
The woman replied, "You’re in a hot air balloon about 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."
"You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. "I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"
"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is, technically correct, but I still don’t know where I am. The fact is you haven’t been much help at all. If anything, you’ve only delayed my trip."
The woman below responded, "You must be in Management." "I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?" "Well," said the woman, "you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault." (illustration from SermonCentral.com)
When we’re lost and distressed, it’s tempting to blame it on someone else – especially God. Here again, I believe that’s because we really lack a clear perception of who God is and what God does.
Today I’d like us to have a glimpse into the nature of our incomparably great God. Obviously, it will have to be a "glimpse" because that’s really all we can do. With our finite minds, how can we fully comprehend an infinite mind?
The Book of Isaiah tells us that God described himself to the Israelites. He was speaking to a society in turmoil and about to collapse. They had a fickle king (Hezekiah) who couldn’t make up his mind whether to be loyal to God or not, and consequently, the people were also uncertain about their relationship with God. It was then that God thundered to the people who He really is.
“Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion,” Isaiah told them. “Lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, . . . do not fear; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Here is your God!’ See, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him . . . . Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure, and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?” (40:9-12)
The largest seas in the world are nothing but a handful of water in God’s hands. Yet, have you ever been in a ship out at sea where you can’t see the land? It makes you feel rather small and helpless. And if the ship sinks, you’ll feel even smaller. But to God, all those seas are like water in the palm of his hand.