Describing the Indescribable

How do you drive my wife crazy?

Tell her one thing and do another.

How do you drive me crazy?

Tell me God is indescribable and then try to describe Him.

That’s what Pastor Chan tries to do in Chapter 1.

It’s not easy.

He says “God is holy” and then tries to explain that God is set apart from us by His holiness.  “There is no way we can fathom all of who He is.”  How can we know a God who is unknowable?  For most of us that is hard.   We want to conceptualize God somehow so we create a visual of the devout God, or the fatherly God or maybe the angry God in Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel.  Once we have the image, we personalize the image, giving God human attributes…no that does not work, says Pastor Chan.

He says “God is eternal” and then blows our minds with the idea of God existing outside time.  We are solidly within time.  We have a moment when we were born and we will have a moment when we will die.  But God is.  He always has been.  To understand this concept, you must understand the eternal statement Moses makes in Exodus 3:14 “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.'”

He says God is all knowing.  That’s a tough one.  It basically means that God knows all about you, all day long, every day.   He knew you in the womb.  He knows your future.  He knows what you are going to do before you do it.  Nothing you could ever do surprises God because God knows all.  Is this maddening?  Of course it is because we think we can hide our sin from God.  What a joke.  He is right there.  Can you hide your sin from the world?  Yes, and many people are very good at that, living false lives.  But your best accountability partner is God because you can’t hide anything from God, we just think we can.

We are a society that thrives on possessing things.   We have the conception that the bigger, the better, the more lavish, the happier we will be, the flashier the item, the more positive the image.  But what does God care?  Colossians 1:16 says “For by Him all things were created; things in heaven and on the earth, visible and invisible…all things were created by Him and for Him.”  It all belongs to God anyhow.  We possess only while we have it in life and it can go in a blink.  Ask the family who has lost its home in a fire, a tornado victim whose house has been flattened or a homeless person who is on the street after losing everything.  It truly is “easy come and easy go” when it comes to possessions, yet the distracting drumbeat of buy, buy, buy comes at us every day.  God knows, it is all His anyway.  He is all-powerful.

Finally Pastor Chan tells us the God is fair and just.  God has told us what to do and what not to do, yet we go about our lives ignoring the warning.  That is not smart but who said we are smart?  We have the attitude that we are “tolerating” God but what does God say in his first three commandments? “ 1.You shall have no other gods before Me  2.You shall not make idols  3.You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain.  Do these three commandments sound like we should just tolerate God?  Pastor Chan says “God instructs us to worship and fear Him.”  Yet because we are frail humans we forget that “He is worthy to be worshipped and loved.   We are to fear Him.”

Yet we go about our merry lives, thinking God is our “good buddy” and that God understands our urgency and is going to grant us our prayers.   We think we can hide our indiscretions from Him, snapping up this and that hoping for happiness and spending our lives accumulating and expecting to get off the hook when we sin.  Maybe a little hand-slap God?

Why does Pastor Chan tell us that God is indescribable and then tries to describe Him?  Because He knows we are humans and we have our limits.   We need words and images to help us come to any understanding of the indescribable.

In researching this entry, I stumbled on a beautiful song sung by an African-American gospel singer named William McDowell and most of us would say that a small child could write the lyrics of his beautiful song “My Heart Sings.”

The lyrics are as follows:

How could I describe

A God that’s indescribable

How could I explain

A love that’s unexplainable

I’m at a loss for words.

Oh Oh Oh My heart sings Oh Oh Oh

That’s all there is to it, but it is truly beautiful in my opinion.  McDowell says that he can’t describe God and he does not try to, yet the emotion of his music is evident.  He is feeling God and he is singing to children—you and me.

To the Jews, Pastor Chan says, “saying something three times demonstrated perfection, so to call God, “Holy, Holy, Holy” is to say he is perfectly set apart, with nothing and no one to compare Him to.

Maybe we could substitute “Oh Oh Oh” or maybe we should just be silent.

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