How big is your God? Or, at least, how big is your idea of God?
The universe is big, really big, by any measure. Space.com says the universe is around 92 billion light years big; that’s an extrapolation from assuming we can see 13.8 billion light years distance in any direction, and that during the time this visible light was getting here, the universe kept expanding. This distance is simply so big that I don’t even try to imagine it.
But if that dwarfs your imagination like it does mine, consider the distance from earth to the closest star (other than our own sun); that would be Alpha Centauri, in fact a star system of three stars, about 4.4 light years away, says UniverseToday.com. Since a light year is about 5.9 trillion miles, that closest of stars is around 26 trillion miles away. Again, though far smaller than the guess at the size of the universe, I simply can’t wrap my mind around this distance and these numbers. But by any measure, these are vast distances comprising space and time that simply beggars the imagination of man.
And yet, vast as the heavens containing the stars and widespread as the universe is, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob says He inhabits it all and is, in fact, too big to be contained in this unimaginable space.
As King Solomon considered the Temple he had just completed for the Lord in Jerusalem, he said:
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built!” 1 Kings 8:27
Isaiah says God measures the heavens with the span of His hand (Isaiah 40:12) like you and I would measure a board or a piece of cloth, and Job tells us that God leads the starry constellations out in order (38:31-33) the way I might lead my dog.
This God is big. And if He has power to lead the starry hosts and space itself is no more than His playground, then He’s probably big enough and powerful enough to lead you and me and help us in our times of temptation, desperation, and troubles.
But big and powerful as God is, He stoops down to hear our prayers (Psalm 34:15). He counts the hairs on our heads (Luke 12:7) and places each of our tears in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). Unbelievable as His majesty, glory, and regal splendor are, He rejoices over us with singing, like an exultant father over his children (Zephaniah 3:17 ESV).
In these days when terrorist thugs in the Middle East hide behind scarves while removing journalist’s heads for public display in the hopes that they will appear powerful and we will cower in fear, we need to be reminded that those who know this magnificent, all powerful, universe-expanding God need fear no tiny man or terrorist, mere mortals who will wither and die and be no more.
Jesus told His followers not to fear those who could take their life, but the one with power over life and death, heaven and hell (Luke 12:4-5). This wasn’t merely a suggestion but a command— to fear fellow mortals, instead of, or in place of God, was in fact a form of idolatry, a failure to give appropriate reverence to the ultimate power and authority, and therefore the ultimate object of holy fear.
Jesus told imprisoned believers waiting their execution in the days of the early Church to remain faithful to death and they would inherit the crown of life (Revelation 2:10). To fear mere mortals, even those who can end our mortal existence, is to deny God His due and His place.
If we know this God who came in flesh, died, and conquered sin and death in His resurrection, then death holds no real terror; it’s a curtain we slip through into the presence of the One who is life.
If we know the God who gives us food and drink, clothing and shelter and supplies us all good things to enjoy, then we need’t fear financial loss or giving freely away to the needs others (Luke 12:29-32), since God promises the wealth of His kingdom to His own.
If the God who is love is our God, we shouldn’t fear the rejection of mere mortals like ourselves, when eternal joy in His presence is our future and reward (Revelation 21:3-4).
If the God of power and might, of storm and wind, of creation, and the sum of all things is our God, we won’t fear our own impotence, temptations, and sin because God has said we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us (Romans 8:37-39).
We’re all tempted to fear the threats and opinions of others and those things outside our
control, it’s part of our mortality. But tonight, look out into the starry vastness, look through and past the constellations into the immeasurable depths of space and be reminded that our Father is overseeing it all; and overseeing our life. And then we can fall into bed with peace in our heart knowing that the all powerful God holds our hopes, our dreams, our life, and our eternal future in His infinitely loving hands.
(A recent book on this theme that may prove useful is, Big God, by Orlando Saer, and you can read a review of this book at: http://thegospelcoalition.org//article/big-god.)