I have been realizing that when I think of God, he is always better than any thought that I can conjure up. He loves me, but his love is way better than I realize. He is holy, but his holiness is way beyond what I can imagine. He is strong, but he strength surpasses how strong I think he is. The list goes on and on. When talking about his character, God is always more, always better, always infinitely more because he is just that — infinite.
God is higher. His ways are higher. His plans, his thoughts, everything about him. We like to say that God is not out of reach, can always be found, but this morning I have to wonder — isn’t he out of reach? In ways, he has to be, he is God and I am part of his creation. A special part (as his redeemed are), but still, the gap between God and me, there isn’t a ruler big enough.
A new reading plan for the new year. I was reminded of these very things. Pilgrims on long journeys need to realize that God is higher, otherwise we would never take up the paths that he leads us on.
Genesis chapter one could not be any clearer. God is eternal. God was not created but created everything. In fact, He created me from some thing that he already created. Reading the creation account reminds me of a truth that seems to be a life-long battle: Everything is about God, for God, because everything is from God, by God. It’s about him, not me. It’s about his kingdom and glory, not mine.
This is the crux of the Fall. Sin nature wants to put us at the center of everything. I want to put me at the center of everything. My little personal kingdom is the one that I want to advance, build up, expand, and protect.
Yet, as Genesis starts out, it is about God because he is the Creator and sustainer of all things. Everything is his, made by him and for him. Paul Tripp says it succinctly, “Even the most regular, seemingly unimportant tasks of my life must be shaped and directed by a heartfelt desire for the glory of God.” That’s my daily battle, the struggle inside of all of us.
“In the beginning, God…” — it does not get any “higher” than that. God is higher.
Ezra chapter one also reminded me of how high God is, how high his ways are. Ezra’s historical account of Cyrus, the king of Persia, is striking. Striking in how God will go to extreme plans (from our perspective) to accomplish his purpose. God raises up, chooses, and stirs up the spirit within Cyrus to bring his people out of captivity. God worked in a way that, to his own people, seemed to be “out of bounds” (using a pagan ruler in his plan). Yet God has no boundary because he is infinite. He is higher. Ezra, seeing history unfold, credits God, seeing that this is a fulfillment of prophecy (1:1). No doubt, Ezra connects Jeremiah’s prophecy from 25:11-12 and 29:10-14, and especially 29:51 (“I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon”). Cyrus was in the hands of God.
God is not bound by my plans, wants, desires….he is bound only by his word/promises. God is higher.
One more verse from today’s reading that ended in Acts chapter 1. Verse 7 seems to be the season I am in right now. “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” However, until you do know, God empowers through the Holy Spirit so that I can be a witness to what I do know, the gospel.
God’s plans and times, his seasons and purposes, they all may be out of reach, out of view, but it doesn’t mean that they are out of control. Just the opposite. The God who spoke everything into existence, the one who stirs up the hearts of men and women, the God who is not bound by my time, my wants, my plans — is fully in control and bringing about his purpose of glorifying himself.
The messes of life, the hard paths that are before us (and behind us) are part of his plan. Submitting to his higher ways do not always come easy. Sure, its easy to say it, but it is a whole different story to walk it. The road leading to a goal does not separate you from the destination; it is essentially a part of it. Just because the road is not paved, does not mean that it isn’t still a part of the destination, the path that is required to get to the end.
I am realizing as 2019 is now in the rearview mirror, that the “higher ways” of God do not mean what I think they mean. I like to define “higher” to mean: better for me as in, easier for me, now, in the present. God’s “higher way” is transformation at any cost.
I’ve never read anything by Oliver Goldsmith (an Anglican and Irish novelist from the 1700’s), but his outlook seemed to have been spot on…
“Life is a journey that must be traveled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations.” – Oliver Goldsmith
Sovereign Lord…I am a needy pilgrim who near-sighted. I see the up close problems and hardships all too well, yet the distant view is blurry, faded, unclear. I am in constant need of correction. Thank you for being patient, long-suffering with me. Your mercy is endless, which is exactly what I need it to be. Help me Lord, in the dim and unsure days that you are taking me through now, to realize that even when I don’t see clearly, You do. My windshield may be smeared with mud and dirt, but you are higher, you see everything, know everything, and will accomplish every word that you have spoken. And I acknowledge at the start of a new year, that your word/plan and my idea of what your word/plan should say or be, are not the same. You are higher. Your ways are higher. Help me to walk forward and trust daily in your grace to walk with you in higher ways that may be hard, messy, unclear, confusing, and full of trials.