Living in Southern California offers countless opportunities to enjoy God’s creation. In my community alone, there are over forty miles of man-made paseos which promote the enjoyment of God’s beauty. Sure, I also get a little cardio in while I’m at it, but more and more often when I walk on these paseos, I realize my pounding heart is beating from something greater than exercise. The reason is I am captivated by views that are stunning glimpses of how grand and glorious my God is…
This truly makes my heart pound!
And yes, at times, humbles me to the core of my sinful heart.
It exposes my complete insufficiency in His presence…
“Can you discover the depths of God? Can you discover the limits of the Almighty?” (Job 10:29)
As I look out on a 180-degree panorama of mountain ranges that seemingly have no end, my heart is guided toward the Word of God, reminding me that His very essence is not like mine.
Isaiah the Prophet said, “For as high as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9).
His thoughts and His ways transcend mine. In my finite, fallible thinking, I am incapable of knowing fully just how big my God is. His ways truly are unfathomable (Romans 11:33).
God’s Majesty in Creation
Following my longer walks, I often will end with a retreat to my backyard to cool down. At that moment, I go from one visual extreme to the other.
Southern Californian homes are rarely known for big yards. There are no grand mountainous views from my tiny patch of land. Actually, most “yards” in Cali offer what real estate agents like to call “peek-a-boo” views. It is a realtor’s way of saying, “if you look really hard through the trees and through the houses that are stacked on top of one another, you might just be able to see…something.”
It is in my little “peek-a-boo” patch that I often have the blessing of seeing that my God cares about even the smallest of things. He is not any less magnificent in the minutiae…
- The hummingbirds are drinking from my many feeders.
- The braided hibiscus trees blooming each spring.
- The aroma of orange and jasmine blossoms.
- The breeze is gently whispering through tree leaves.
John Calvin said, “There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”
Our magnificent, transcendent, God is also lovingly involved in the details of His creation, His image-bearers, as well as all of history. How amazing it is to me that God is actively involved in the minutiae of my tiny, seemingly insignificant patch of a lawn. My “peek-a-boo” patch is just one of countless reminders that I have a benevolent God.
Scripture speaks of God’s immanence when Christ said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father” (Matthew 10:29).
God’s Majesty in Our Lives
What is even more remarkable, and yes, so humbling, is He is also lovingly involved in the minutiae of our lives. We can gladly look at the nearness of God in our lives no matter what we are encountering and testify to God’s loving presence and activity.
“’Am I a God who is near,’ declares the LORD, ‘and not a God far off? Can a man hide himself in hiding places so I do not see him?’ declares the LORD. ‘Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?’ declares the LORD’” (Jeremiah 23:23-24).
There are moments when we are aware of His nearness more than others. Sometimes we, like the Israelites, forget. No, deceptive hearts were not exclusive to the Israelites (Jeremiah 23:26). We, too, forget God’s presence, His holiness, His righteousness, and His Word.
My view of who God is will directly affect how I live my life.
Thankfully, by God’s grace, His redemptive plan is continually at work, motivating us to train our hearts to see Him working for His greatest glory! Praise Him that we have been given Immanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:23).
Not unlike the Paseos in my community which are connected together with a purpose in mind, there is an even more profound connection between who God is and what He does, He cannot act separately from His character, His attributes, and His nature. He is always orchestrating His purposes in our lives in order to bring us to a place of greater Christlikeness — thus, bringing God His all-deserving Glory (Romans 8:28-29).
A.W. Tozer once said, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.”
Therefore, my view of who God is will also directly affect how I live my life. If my life is to have genuine spiritual meaning, then I must long to better understand who He is.
All that is necessary for growth into Christlikeness has been revealed by God to us in His inspired Word and was furthermore exemplified through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 1:14-18). God’s Word is the ultimate source revealing to us His transcendent nature as well as His immanent care for His world. His transcendence and His immanence beautifully complement one another, never competing.
How, Then, Should the Reality of His Presence Impact My Life?
- It should bring me to a deeper level of love and trust in my daily routine as well as in the unexpected trials, knowing the minutiae is not too far from God’s care.
- It should deepen my prayer walk, knowing He is near and interested in the little details of every facet of my life.
- It should deepen my gratitude for God, knowing the depth of His care for all of His creation.
- It should deepen my contentment and rest, knowing He also is in control of all the details of my life.
- It should deepen my enjoyment and love for the Word and the Gospel (Hebrews 1:3, “and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins”). “He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28-29).
The following old familiar hymn was composed in the late 1800s by pastor Maltie Babcock who would announce before taking a regular fifteen-mile hike: “I’m going out to see my Father’s world.” He saw God’s love and the Gospel working in those moments.
This is my Father’s world, and to my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.
This is my Father’s world, the birds their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world: He shines in all that’s fair;
In the rustling grass I hear Him pass;
He speaks to me everywhere.
This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and Heav’n be one.
This is my Father’s world, dreaming, I see His face.
I open my eyes, and in glad surprise cry, “The Lord is in this place.”
This is my Father’s world, from the shining courts above,
The Beloved One, His Only Son,
Came—a pledge of deathless love.
This is my Father’s world, should my heart be ever sad?
The Lord is King—let the heavens ring. God reigns—let the earth be glad.
This is my Father’s world. Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod.
No place but is holy ground.
This is my Father’s world. I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze God makes His glory known.
This is my Father’s world, a wanderer I may roam
Whate’er my lot, it matters not,
My heart is still at home.
(Maltbie Babcock, 1901)