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Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint (Isa 40:28-31).
But the Lord is the true God; he is the living God and the everlasting King. At his wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure his indignation. Thus shall you say to them: “The gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.” It is he who made the earth by his power, who established the world by his wisdom, and by his understanding stretched out the heavens. When he utters his voice, there is a tumult of waters in the heavens, and he makes the mist rise from the ends of the earth. He makes lightning for the rain, and he brings forth the wind from his storehouses (Jer 10:10-13).
Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation” (Ex 34:6-7).
My director, Andy Estrella, loves to share this story.
His biggest mentor when he was young had a vision for a place where kids could go and have fun in a safe environment. This was in 1980s New York City—times was rough, as we like to say at MSU. Stuff like this was important.
This guy wanted to put together a youth center with arcade games, and food, and toys, and playgrounds, and clowns, and just everything that a kid would love. A place for them to come, be safe, have fun, keep them away from gangs and drugs and all that. Just a huge service for kids.
So one day, he was driving around and saw a place that fixed broken arcade games, so he stopped in to ask questions. He shared with the guy there the whole big vision—the games, the food, the toys, the playgrounds, the clowns, all of it, hugely excited to talk with a guy who worked in a field related to that.
And the guy said to him, “Naw, man, you don’t want to do that. The city’s put so many regulations on arcade games, and they do ____ and they do ___ and it’s just not worth having arcade games anymore.”
Crushed his dream.
Then another guy came up and asked him what he was talking about. So Andy’s mentor shared the whole big vision again, all of it, a little less enthusiastic, but still excited to be sharing his vision.
“Oh, you want to open a hamburger-hotdog joint.”
So Andy’s mentor went through and explained it all again, going through everything. And the guy said again, “Oh, yeah, you want to open a hamburger-hotdog joint.”
He just didn’t get it. He didn’t care. He fastened on one small part of the vision and made it the whole of it.
It’s a funny story, but it’s something we do all the time, particularly with God.
Right now, we’ve seen a lot of people stepping forward saying, “God is judge!” or “God is righteous!” and a lot of people stepping forward saying, “God is love!” And they’re both right, but that makes them both wrong.
Because they’re taking one part of who God is and making that all God is.
God’s love and God’s justice and God’s righteousness are not in conflict within Him. He is perfect in all three. He forgives thousands, but he will not clear the guilty. He is both and, not either/or.
And we do this all the time with His vision, too. “God’s heart is for _____!” Put in what you will: the poor, the homeless, the lost, world missions, local missions… plug in what you think is God’s heart. Those are all right—God loves the poor, the homeless, the lost, world missions, local missions, the sick, the needy, the hungry, and on and on—but they’re not the only people God loves.
God loves all people. His heart is for the lost, and for the found—doesn’t the Father love His children, too? God loves the people thousands of miles away and people across the street.
God loves the poor and the rich—because wealth isn’t a measure of how close you are to God. And it’s not money but the love of money that is the root of all evil, and you don’t need a lot of money to love it.
I love how Isaiah 40:28 starts: Have you not known? Have you not heard?
Basically, “Don’t you know who I am?”
What about God is distracting you from the rest of Him? What one part of who He is are you making ALL of who He is? What one thing is keeping you from actually knowing Him?
Does your heart long for all of God’s will, or just a few parts?
Are you willing to surrender your overemphasis on these things for the sake of the rest?
Are you willing to give up your image of God for knowing who He really is?