Ominous Ravines and Unapproachable Crags

Ominous Ravines and Unapproachable Crags

This is a plea that we would open our eyes wide to the not-God for the sake of God.

By the “not-God” I have in mind the skies—day and night—the clouds, the mountains, and the oceans. And a thousand other things. But especially these natural glories.

Look at them. Think about the distances involved from here to the stars, and from the surface of the water to the bottom of the deepest ocean. Think about those heights and those terrible depths, and how much a mountain weighs.

Then do what Psalm 36:5-6 does. Use the magnificence of the not-God to capture something of God. Like this:

Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O Lord.

David could not have written this, if he had not gazed and marveled at the “heavens,” the “clouds,” the “mountains,” and the “great deep.” These gave him language for the glory of God.

But more than language. They gave experiential meaning to language. “High” gets meaning from the heavens. And “weight” gets meaning from the mountains. And “depth” gets meaning from the ocean. As C. S.  Lewis said,

Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. I still do not know where else I could have found one. I do not see how the “fear” of God could have ever meant to me anything but the lowest prudential efforts to be safe, if I had never seen certain ominous ravines and unapproachable crags.
("The Four Loves,"A Mind Awake: An Anthology of C. S. Lewis, ed. Clyde Kilby [New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1968], 202)

Let’s open our eyes wide to the glorious not-God for the sake of knowing something of what we mean when we speak of God. And let us by all means speak of him. And speak well.

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.