Two quotes help me ponder my reverence for God. Nothing covers everything about God but they cover enough for me, for now.
In Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson’s When I was a Child I Read Books, this line grips me: “…God is a sphere whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.”
We are reminded to acknowledge how great God is. But how could we not revere Him? God is the centre of everything. He is beyond borders. With God in control, pain cannot, and gain should not, possess me. Surely awe and adoration shall follow me, all the days of my life.
We are buried. Not only is earth a tiny blur in the universe, our universe is only one amongst more universes than we dare count. The late cosmologist Carl Sagan said: “Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people… For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.”
Love is not enough, we can bear the overwhelming vastness only if we acknowledge God as the centre, that He is beyond this vastness, and that He, mystery of mysteries, centres His attention on us, specks residing on a blur. This truth sets us free to revere Him. When the Infinite reaches out to the infinitesimal – God the Son becoming man, to die for us, to secure us eternal life through His resurrection – how could we not bow down and worship God?
The second quote is the opening line of Booker Prize winner Julian Barnes’s memoir, Nothing to be Frightened of: “I don’t believe in God, but I miss Him.” His philosopher-brother’s reaction: “Soppy.” Cute it does sound, the declaration nevertheless makes me think, I believe in God but is it only because it is comforting to have Him around? As an emotional crutch? As the Figment I can turn to when people don’t care two hoots about my sorrows? Is God merely a Convenient Truth? I believe in God, but do I grieve Him to say, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:9) by keeping Him at the periphery? Unlike Barnes I don’t have to miss Him, but am I missing? Is my way with God a distortion of Thomas Dorsey’s classic gospel song, Precious Lord Take My Hand?
Precious Lord, let me be
Don’t call me, I’ll call you
When I’m tired, when I’m weak, when I’m worn
Only when there is storm
Lead me on to the light,
Only when, precious Lord,
I make my call.
I run the risk of treating God as a 24/7 call centre – He’s always there, while I do my own thing outside His circumference. The opposite of revering God: revering my terms. It’s my life. To add insult to injury, I check whether my schedule can take Him, after He’s planted me in His very own court (Psalm 92:13-14). God, go control the universe, just don’t disturb me.
Revering God is letting Him disturb my universe, taking steps to put away old gods and choosing this day whom I will serve (Joshua 24:14-15). For reverence to be true I cannot turn toward God without turning away from sinful habits and narcissistic decisions. It is not posturing, however worshipful that makes me look.
Reverence for God is approaching Him in the manner of Psalm 51:17 (NASB):
“The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
A broken and a contrite heart, O God,
You will not despise.”
– Pastoral message by Elder Wong Chai Kee, YCKC bulletin 19&20 Jan 2013