September 11, 2011
Seeking a God Who Is Both Far and Near
“. . . so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).
As we seek God diligently, we are struck by this remarkable truth: the God who in God’s greatness is far above us is also the God who in God’s grace comes very near us. Teilhard de Chardin pointed to this paradox when he wrote, "All of us, Lord, from the moment we are born feel within us this disturbing mixture of remoteness and nearness." Who has not felt this truth, that although we're cut off from God, He is still not very far away?
If we contemplate the "distance" between God's glory and our own small existence, we must be amazed that He takes thought for us and stoops to help us. “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” (Psalm 8:3,4).
Nevertheless, it is a fact that the God whom we seek is a God who can actually be found, even by us. We must seek God, and our seeking must be earnest and wholehearted. But the diligence that pleases God (Hebrews 11:6) is necessary because of love, not because God is difficult to find. He is, as Paul said to the Athenians, “not far from each one of us” (Acts. 17:27).
Although God's greatness and God’s grace are equally important to us, there are specific times when we need to be reminded of one more than the other. The inimitable William Barclay wrote, “O God, our Father, as we read Your word, humble us at the sight of Your holiness, and then comfort us with the memory of Your mercy. Humiliate us with the realization of our sinfulness, and then uplift us at the sight of Your love. . . . When we are lazy and lethargic, let Your word stimulate us to thought and to action. When we are restless and distracted, let Your word calm our troubled hearts with the peace that passes understanding.”
The God of our worship can also be the God of our love. “For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones’” (Isaiah 57:15).
“Even though God is glorious, he is still intimate. God is high and yet low, enormous and yet within us, awesome and yet lovable.” (Francois de Fenelon)