As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things. Ecclesiastes 11, verse 5.
Some things are bigger than us.
Yesterday was 12/12/12. Many people attach significance to such oddities as a date on the calendar that is synchronistic or unique. Other than the North Koreans testing a nuclear missile, nothing earth-shattering happened. It was just a typical day, yet I read stories all day long about what an extraordinary day it was simply because of the way the calendar lined up. There will not be another 12/12/12 until December 21, 2112, 99 years and 364 days from today. For many, this was a big thing, especially in Asia, where special meaning is attached to such things. To paraphrase the Vice President, it was a big freaking deal.
Next week, next Friday, comes another. That’s the day the world is supposed to end. Not, it isn’t because of the winter solstice (though that is a more commonly agreed-on date). No, as you probably heard, next Friday is when the ancient Mayan calendar (which hasn’t been used since the time when there actually were Mayans living to use it; I think that’s approximately 500 years ago) runs out of time. Roland Emmerich made that disaster movie “2012” to describe what would happen when the Mayan calendar expired. Mass death, mass disaster, mass panic; lions and tigers and bears, oh my. I think I hear the Vice President again.
Wanna paraphrase me? Repeat this: it’s no big deal. Really.
No, I’m not being snarky or cynical. It simply isn’t a big deal. Nothing we do in this world really is very big compared to understanding the work of God. It just isn’t. Pick a day and let’s see how it compares. The day the Egyptians finished the Great Pyramid? Great and lasting stack of stones; nice, but no big deal. Columbus crossing the ocean? Sorry, nope. Detonating the first nuclear device? Big noise but compared to God no big deal. Landing on the moon? 9/11? Charlie Sheen staying sober? Again, big things but comparatively no big deal.
For awhile now, one of my favorite sayings has been “God plays chess while we play checkers.” We go from square to square, occasionally setting up multiple jumps and trying to arrange a board just so, but that’s usually the extent of our game; we react to someone else. Not so God. He plays chess, arranging gambits 5 moves ahead, and moving pieces on the board in a game that deliberately unfolds over time, but always for a singular purpose: to share His love. We bring Him glory by loving Him: by sharing His love, by using our talents as He wants us to, by serving others. As we live our lives, God is actively involved, even when it seems like He isn’t there or is disinterested. He’s at work even in the things that we think are no big deal.
He can do that because He’s God and you or I aren’t. We can’t begin to comprehend all of Him while we live on this fallen planet. We’re separated from Him by our uncleanness, and it limits our knowledge, even our intellect. I admire science that it attempts to explain things and see how a holistic world fits together, how all things are interdependent. We fool ourselves, though, if we begin to think we can explain it all, or explain all that God is. We’re left looking inadequate and foolish.
We look foolish because some things are bigger than us. Like God.
It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to understand them, just that we might not be able to no matter how hard we try. We should indeed try to comprehend God, but that doesn’t happen by scientific means. He’s THE natural phenomena, but He is also supernatural, existing both outside and within the parameters of what we think of as nature. If we come at God to understand Him from any vantage other than love, we miss Him. Worse, we run the risk of seeing Him only through the lens of fear. Instead, we’re better off to accept Him as He is: bigger than our understanding but person enough to meet us where we are, one who descended to our level because we’re incapable of ascending to His. His work is something we can’t do like He does, even as we can do what He asks of us. That’s a truth I can live with no matter what the calendar says.