Our Version of God is Too Small
As I reflect more on the spiritual life, I wonder why we seem so often to drift spiritually. I wonder why we don’t put God clearly at the top of our intentions every single day. I know we are all busy, but if we believe in an infinitely powerful, infinitely present, infinitely good, and infinitely intelligent God, aren’t we making a huge mistake when considering our own good by NOT placing Him at the top? I must admit that if I did a personal inventory of the amount of time I truly place God at the top of my intentions, I would probably be embarrassed at how low the percentage is. When I consider the “reasons” we deprioritize God, it always seems to me to boil down to a lack of perspective of who God really is, or either outright disbelief of which very few of us would admit, but if evidence were offered in a court of law, we might be convicted of outright disbelief. I think we just consistently make God incredibly small, and I wonder if we don’t do that because we spend so low a percentage of time considering the sheer size of His presence, power, intelligence, and goodness and we spend too high a percentage of our time asking Him for things. There is nothing wrong with petitioning God. He tells us to do just that, but it cannot be all we do. In Jesus’ instructions on prayer, specifically the example we know as The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), He teaches us to petition only after recognizing God as holy and powerful. I personally believe that if we could get even a tiny glimpse of a fraction of the true reality of the Creator of all, it would be so overwhelming that we would either die on the spot, or if just under the death threshold, absolutely nothing else would matter relative to Him.
"Pray then like this:
'Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
Matthew 6: 9-13 ESV
I recently had someone tell me that they had prayed for what they considered a minor healing. They didn’t feel it was significant enough to appear on God’s radar. They said something to the effect of “I’m sure God has much more important things to do than deal with my ailment.” That is a generous and humble perspective, but one that I believe misses something important. I attempted to tell them that I don’t think God is busy. He can’t be. I don't believe He has some kind of capacity limit like we do. When we think this way, it is us making Him far less than He is, probably because that is how we work. We tend to make God in our image. If we believe God to be infinite in His attributes, then he must be infinite in His capacity. To get a better understanding of this, spend a moment pondering just creation alone. Our solar system has eight planets (sorry Pluto, I guess you’re out) and is big relative to us. Our solar system belongs to a galaxy, the Milky Way. The Milky Way alone has about two hundred billion solar systems. When we expand that out to the universe, scientists believe there are over two trillion galaxies in just the observable universe. If we did the math, we would estimate a minimum of over seven hundred quintillion planets (that is seven hundred with eighteen zeros behind it!) in just the observable universe. I don’t know about you, but my brain cannot process that kind of size and volume. If God is the Creator we know Him to be, and I am not speaking to the activity His word put into motion, but He created all of that with a word. Now imagine that in all that space and habitation, He only created one person. And that person is you. And you are more important than all that creation. That is the degree to which He is paying attention to you. Imagine the degree to which He loves you. If we think He cannot be entirely focused on us, we are limiting His capacity and we no longer believe Him to be infinite in presence, intelligence, power, and goodness. Our version of God is simply too small. And when we consider something that great, it changes things.
One of the primary difficulties many atheists have about creationism is “who created God?” I can understand how this is a challenge, but only as we insist on putting everything into our limited way of thinking, including the scientific method. The clear answer to me and other believers is that there must be one final eternal answer that nothing can be larger than. If we can conceive of something larger than, or beyond the scope of God, we have shrunk Him to our standard. Christians, Jews, and Muslims alike believe that God is infinite in intelligence, goodness, presence, and power. He was never created. He has always been and will always be. To the people that ask, “who created God?” your version of God is far too small and (I believe) intentionally cannot be crammed into the scientific method.
When we suffer in this world and shake our fist at God for our suffering and often stop believing in Him because we cannot get on board with Him allowing such pain, I think we have made our version of God too small.
When we think we can determine the full purpose of anything, especially when we think something has missed in purpose, we have placed ourselves on equal intellectual footing with the Infinite Intelligence and made our version of God absurdly too small.
When we think we have to have control of our careers, finances, relationships, and other plans apart from Him, our version of God is too small, and that is if we even genuinely believe in God in the first place. Because if we do, and we see Him as mighty and as faithful as He tells us He is, why are we not just turning that stuff over to Him without hesitation?
I know we know practically nothing of the specifics of Heaven, but when we lose someone really important, then think how we “can’t wait to get to Heaven to reunite with our deceased loved one” and we don’t think we are going to be so struck with such unspeakable awe at being in God’s presence that nothing else matters, I’m afraid our version of God is too small. I think it is called heaven because that’s where God exists in His fullness. This may be me being a little simple, but I think if we entered Heaven next to said loved one with our big dumb grin, they would probably immediately grab our face and point it away from themselves toward God and say “look!”
I believe if we could get just a fraction of a glimpse of the outskirts of His presence, we would be struck with such life-altering awe, that truly nothing else in the world would matter anymore. And I think any more than a millisecond of this experience and we would die on the spot due to our sheer inability to absorb such magnificence. But for some reason we too often approach God as if He were just another thing we encounter in the world. Our version of God is just too small.
I have started trying to spend more time during the day or in prayer considering His magnitude, of which I know that even my wildest imagination could not come close to grasping. It helps me get a better picture of Who I am trusting and why. I don’t do it every day and I know I am far from being a spiritual role model, but when I do this, I spend less time asking Him for things, and more time asking only for Him. Ultimately, if He is true, nothing else really matters anyway. I think this is closer to what Jesus meant when told us to start prayer with “Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your Kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” So, let’s make time in our spiritual practices this week to challenge our view of the size of God (size meaning the size of His intelligence, presence, power, and goodness). Let’s try to identify where our perspective limits Him and try to stretch that perspective into places it has never been. I promise, whatever we come up with won’t come close to the full truth. It will likely expose our perspectives as weak and deceiving, and hopefully add to our confidence in the power and love of the one true God.