Last week, I twice heard one of my favorite worship songs – once at Point Loma Nazarene University‘s chapel, once at North Coast Church’s “The Jordan” college service. The song is “Enough” by Chris Tomlin and Louie Giglio.
The line that really gets me describes God as “still more awesome than I know.” Kerpow! It hits me hard every time.
A God who is more awesome than I know is a God who could surprise me at every turn (or even wait ’til heaven to do so):
- in how He comes through for me
- in how my theologies prove wrong, or incomplete
- in how His rules prove to have been wisdom all along
- in how unlike me He is
- in how bad times work for my good
- and more, for sure
On this Road Trip, I’ve encountered lots of people following (or denying) a God that’s only AS awesome as they know. Not more awesome, just as awesome. I’ve struggled with that, too. It infiltrates “conservative” and “liberal” Christians alike, college students and their ministers, even atheists.
In this error, God is certainly awesome, that’s for sure. But this awesome God is tempered by our own temperament; the commands we obey (and teach) correspond to our own noblest personal aims; His thoughts and passions and ways aren’t higher than ours but are, surprisingly, somewhere around the same mark. Sure, God may be far more consistent in His character than we are – more loving, more compassionate, more holy – and that’s what makes Him God. But He’s only better, not different.
He’s really awesome, sure. But not more awesome than we know.
That’s why some Christian students’ search for God ends up a lot like a “search for themselves” – including “fasting” from God and His wisdom, with the end product a God in their image. Because we don’t think God is more awesome than we could know.
It’s why we choose (actually) unsatisfying paths instead of the (surprisingly) satisfying. We struggle to believe God and His blessings are more awesome than we know. As C.S. Lewis said, the sandbox is good enough when we’ve never known the beach.
For many anti-god arguments, too, this seems the underlying assumption: If what we happen to know (the suffering, the geology, whatever) doesn’t fit with any god we can imagine, then He can’t exist. We never fathom that, very simply, He could just be more awesome than what we know, with explanations we’ve never thought of and brilliance unlike our own.
His ways and thoughts aren’t simply Algebra II to our Algebra. They’re Calculus.
Ʃ ∆ xⁿ ˂ ʃ cos π √.
Road Trip Theology kinda requires a God that’s more awesome than I know, right? We have to let Him set our unknown itineraries. We have to count on Him to come through with resources. We have to trust Him to provide opportunities and fruit, because otherwise it won’t happen. Hope only works if God’s actually more awesome than my present experience suggests. And adventure only works with some sort of twists, by demolishing expectations.
Not exceeding expectations. That’s a gold-star employee or a great birthday gift.
Demolishing expectations. As it turns out, some expectations don’t actually connect with reality at all, and we find out He’s more awesome than we knew. Huh.
written from “home,” Pacific Palisades, CA