“How Great is Our God?”
Our scripture readings paint quite a picture for us today!
Try to imagine yourself in Isaiah’s shoes... as he was commissioned to be God’s instrument, God’s prophet, God’s spokesperson to the people.
He experienced a vision... an image of God, and of God’s greatness, that’s as unique as it is powerful.
As Isaiah looked up, into the vastness of the temple, and saw God... high & lifted up (exalted, in-other-words)... and seated on a throne. God was so big, so great, that the hem of his robe filled the whole temple!
Think about that... Many of you have had the opportunity to visit some of the grand Cathedrals of the faith... like St. Peter’s in Rome, or Notre Dame in Paris... or Westminster Abbey in London... maybe the National Cathedral in Washington. They’re huge, inspiring places.
Well, try to imagine, standing there in one of those grand “temples” of the faith - as God’s presence fills the space to the point that you feel ruined (Isaiah’s word)... you’re overwhelmed by the presence of God. And then you realize, it was just the hem, or the train, of God’s robe... just the very edge of God’s presence that you were allowed to experience, and it was more than you could take.
And then try to imagine God... surrounded by heavenly beings... who in their perfection... are shamed by God’s glory... covering their faces and feet! All the while, they’re praising God, and the sound of their voices not only rattled the windows, but shook the foundation of the Temple.
The whole scene was enough to cause Isaiah to fall on his face and cry: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King... the Lord of Hosts.”
Isaiah offers us a vision of God that’s grand... God is larger, and holier, and more glorious than simple, ordinary words can describe. And that’s the point.
Which makes me wonder: How great is our God? How big is God? I don’t mean how physically big is God? That’s a asinine question for sure!
What I mean is... in our minds, in our lives... in our hearts... how big is our God? How great is God? How much space does God take up in your life, and in mine? Now that’s a relevant question.
We like to keep God in a box... don’t we? For some, that box is shaped like a church - God gets this space, and no more! That way, He’s confined and controlled... That way we maintain some illusion of control.
We all have a certain idea or belief in what we think is possible and what we think is impossible - what can happen, or can’t happen. And when someone suggests something that’s beyond what we’ve decided is possible, we deny it. Our limited perception of reality, and narrow view of what’s doable... often causes us to think of God in human terms... and so we have trouble allowing God to be bigger than our limited perception.
Of course, we don’t mind seeing our problems as being big... and overwhelming... do we? Our worries, anxiety... heartaches and griefs take up a huge space in our lives.
Today just happens to be “Trinity Sunday” on the church calendar. It’s a day to remember that God is bigger than what our minds can conceive... and greater than our tongues can confess! The doctrine of the Trinity is the church’s answer to those who try to put God in a box.
There is one God in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The God who is our Creator, our Savior, and our Sustainer. Our Judge, our Redeemer, our Comforter.
God is ALWAYS bigger than what we could ever hope to conceive, or imagine, or express. God is greater than our greatest problem... He is our Father, our Brother, our constant Companion.
The Psalmists knew this... “What are humans that you are mindful of them.” In the grand order of God’s Creation, our planet is just a speck of dust circling a small star in the corner of an obscure and ordinary galaxy. Why would the One who created so much more than our minds could ever hope to comprehend, care for us?
Of course, Isaiah’s vision of God revealed Isaiah’s imperfections... his sins... and Isaiah cried out in amazement that he (a woeful sinner) had actually seen the Lord! So he cried, “Woe is me for I am a man of unclean lips.” But God heard Isaiah’s cry. And one of the angels took a live coal from the altar and cleansed Isaiah’s lips.
It’s truly amazing that God (being so high and exalted) would even notice, let alone cleanse Isaiah, and commission Isaiah to speak on God’s behalf.
But then... that’s the Good News... because you and I are people of unclean lips, too.
God is big enough, and loving enough, and gracious enough... to forgive everyone who confesses their sin. But God’s grace isn’t cheap. The price God paid for our forgiveness makes the grace even more amazing. God gave himself for us. In Christ, God came in the flesh to suffer the punishment we deserved for our sins.
And through the Holy Spirit, God gives us strength (in spite of our many weaknesses) to do what he’s called us to do... and be who he’s called us to be.
How great is our God?
Have you tried to limit God? Have you thought to yourself - or said - God can’t or won’t?
Do you really think for a single moment that your problems are too big for God? Do you think it’s beyond God's sphere of influence to save your marriage - or help you with your job? Do you think that God’s too unconcerned to heal and restore? Do you really think you’re too big a sinner... too lost... too hopeless?
God is greater than you and I could ever hope or imagine! Let’s open our minds and hearts to the possibilities of what God can and will do in our lives. Let’s humble ourselves before the greatness of our God who can fill every space in our minds and hearts and souls.
How great is our God?
God is the Father: the God who said, “Let there be light” is still shining his light into the darkness... including your darkness, and my darkness...
God is the Son: the God who promises rest for the weary, will lighten the heaviest of loads...
God is the Spirit: the God who promised his eternal Presence, will never leaves us, nor forsakes us...
God is Father, Son, and Spirit...
How great is our God! Amen.