During car rides throughout the pines of East Texas, our daughter often observes her surroundings and asks big questions about God.
“Is God bigger than that tree, mama?”
“What about the road? Is he longer than that?”
Outside of the obvious difficulty in answering such massive questions, my heart smiles at her curiosity — mostly because it makes me quiver to consider the magnitude of a God who cannot be measured by any of our pitiful metrics.
It is a good and humbling thing to observe who God is in comparison to who we are. The heart-dropping ingloriousness of our sin in relation to God’s holiness is as a rotten, puny tree stump beside General Sherman, the giant sequoia holding the title as the largest individual living stem in the world. Your stomach drops at its vastness. You cannot wrap your mind around how something this gargantuan exists.
The insurmountable nature of God can be for us a source of peace and joy. We have this butterflies-in-the-stomach effect as we approach the Lord, unable to fully see his providence, yet catching it in glimpses through dimmed eyes.
None Like Him
God is the knower of thoughts, seeker of hearts, knowing the measure of our days, yet standing outside of time, ordaining every second before there was even one (Psalm 139). We may say God is “omnipotent,” but applying the label doesn’t help our minds get around him, even as children of God. We can’t size him up. Our mental arms can’t wrap around this cosmos-creating, secret-having God (Deuteronomy 29:29).
Consistently throughout Scripture, we have the question arising, Who is like the Lord? After God parted the Red Sea for Israel, Moses erupts into praise and leads the people with the words, “Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11).
After prophesying exile, Isaiah’s pronouncements shift upward in hope as he proclaims comfort for God’s people: “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in” (Isaiah 40:22). The Old Testament continues with accounts of God’s otherness from his creation.
There is no one like him.
The New Testament deepens our understanding of his distinctness. When the crowds pressed in on Jesus during his preaching and left not even a spot at the door, four men lowered their paralytic friend down through the roof, and Jesus’s initial response to their faith was to forgive the disabled man’s sins. We get a glimpse into the evil hearts of the scribes as they question Jesus’s authority wondering, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” (Mark 2:7).
It baffles the senses of the natural man to encounter the otherness of God made manifest through Jesus Christ.
Reaching into the Unfathomable
If you browse pictures of General Sherman, you will see many pictures of people standing at its base, appearing as grasshoppers in comparison.
All the trees in our neighborhood are mountable, which is good news for our (soon-to-be) three boys. There’s something about bear-hugging the base of a tree and attempting to climb it that allures our sons, our oldest especially. He is scratching at the bark to mount it. I think fear might fill him, though, if we were to drive to upstate California and show him General Sherman.
Yet here we are, full access to God through his word and power (Ephesians 1:17–19). This insurmountable, unfathomable, incalculable God reveals himself to children, calling forth praise even from infants (Matthew 21:15–16). We can “know the Lord” (Hosea 6:3), not because our minds have ascended the infinite, but because God in his infinitude accommodates our lowliness. We have Christ’s righteousness, grace upon grace, and the fulfillment of countless promises, not because of our works, but all because of our big God’s lavish grace. What have we not to be joyful for?
God’s grace cannot be weighed (1 Peter 1:10–12). His power cannot be measured (Ephesians 1:19). And it is given to us — sinners against the insurmountable God — by grace.
We Have God
No one is like him. No, not one. We can shudder at the magnitude of that reality and glorify him through overflowing thanksgiving and joy at such an immeasurable gift. Yet in our shuddering, we embrace him as our dearest Friend, closest Confidant, and Bridegroom. It is the greatest, kindest, and richest thing we could ever experience — because we were made for it.
Weak little grass shoots tossed by the wind next to the largest single Stem there is. We have God. That is a reality that we base our entire lives upon.