Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Oh, the depth...

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 'Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?' 'Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him?' For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."
-Romans 11:33-36

view from the Citadel in Haiti

In "Voices of the True Woman Movement", Nancy Leigh DeMoss shares her experience of riding in a jeep through the Rocky Mountains with her friends in Colorado. The climb was long and even scary at times, as they came real close to the edge of the mountain. At points, they would get out of the jeep and hike the steep trails. After many curves and narrow trails, they finally - finally - made it to the top of the mountain. There, they looked out over the breathtaking view that surrounded them and were awestruck by the beauty of God. Their effort was rewarded.

Nancy compares this to the verses in Romans above and how Paul must have been feeling. Nancy says, "In the first eleven chapters of Romans, Paul lays out the basic doctrines of our faith - the sinfulness of man, the amazing grace of God, the salvation that is possible for us through Jesus Christ. Then, in the remainder of the book - chapters 12 through 16 - Paul makes practical application of everything he has written before... And the doxology of Romans 11:33-36 serves as a bridge between the two." It is as if Paul pauses to think about all that the Holy Spirit has written through him, and he is struck speechless. He breaks out into praise to God - "How unsearchable... Who has known the mind of the Lord?... To Him be the glory forever! Amen."

I can relate to this feeling - this feeling of being speechless before the magnificence of God. You cannot describe it. You cannot give it to others to feel. You cannot put into words the beauty and the majesty and the magnificence of God when you have experienced even just a glimpse of it. In Haiti, we had the opportunity to hike up to the Citadel - an old army fortress from the early 1800's, built on a mountain top to fend off the attack of the French that they thought was coming. This fortress, built nearly 3,000 feet above sea level, is situated on the highest point that I had ever climbed to. It was an exhausting hike, yet when we reached the top and looked out over the vastness of the beauty of God in Haiti, I stood speechless. All I can do is say, "Wow, God. You are awesome. To You be the honor and glory forever and ever! Amen."

So when Paul reaches this point, he is struck speechless. He cannot describe the depth of the riches of God's wisdom and knowledge. God's ways are too great for us, as mere humans, to understand. Our minds are too small to wrap around it. Our eyes are too blind for us to see it. The ways of our awesome, limitless, powerful God - "Oh, the depth"!

So, what does this have to do with true womanhood and learning more of what it means to be a true woman of God? It all begins with, "Oh, the depth..."

We can go to the bottom of the deepest part of the depths of the ocean (the Marianas Trench, a chasm in the Pacific near the island of Guam), yet then we stop. We can dig our way through the deepest mine filled with gold (located near Johannesburg, South Africa, extending two full miles into the earth), but eventually the riches will end. We can go through life living on our own strength, but eventually it will be exhausted.

God's ways are not like that. His wisdom and His knowledge (Romans 11:33), His kindness and forbearance and patience (Romans 2:4), His glory (Romans 9:23), His mercy (Ephesians 2:4), His grace (Ephesians 1:7-8) - Oh, the depth of His riches!

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!"

This means that God knows everything and everything about everything. God knows about every difficult situation that we face, every family issue, every need, every challenge, every sin, every fear, every insecurity, everything about our past, present, and future and everything that we think we have hidden away in the depths of our hearts. God knows it all. We can see that as reason to shrink away from the Lord, or we can draw nearer to Him and allow Him to shine His light on the depths of our hearts and prune away our sin issues so that He can transform us - that we may live righteous lives before the Lord and please Him in everything we say and do.

God's ways are unfathomable, unknowable, unsearchable, and unable to understand. They are just too great. What does this have to do with becoming a true woman of God?

Nancy lists three reasons:

1) A true woman lives a God-centered life.

We live in a self-centered world. Yet a true woman of God lives a God-centered life even amidst all of the selfishness around her. She realizes that compared to the vastness and the magnificence of God that causes us to become speechless and our hearts to skip a beat, her problems and challenges are tiny. Standing at the top of the mountain in Haiti, my biggest challenge and hardship would be as small as the smallest ant on the ground - as I am standing nearly 3,000 feet above sea level. Looking out at the vastness of His creation and of the beauty of His awesome Hand, my problems no longer seem so huge. In light of the magnificent and powerful God that I serve, my problems are nothing. He does, after all, hold the whole world in His hands. A true woman of God is enthralled with Jesus Christ, her Lord and her Savior. Her life revolves around Him and only Him. Her life is centered around her Savior and her Lord.

2) A true woman trusts God.

Our world is filled with bad news and troubling times. Every corner we turn seems to be filled with some sort of tragedy, especially when the news of the world is blaring in our ears. We are a fearful people. Yet a true woman of God is not filled with fear. She simply trusts. She trusts the One who made her, the One who knows her heart more than anyone has the capacity to understand it, the One who created the universe, the One who holds the whole world in His hands. She trusts in the One who has control. She "can laugh at the days to come" (Proverbs 31:25) because she has nothing to fear. Her laughs are light-hearted and her smiles are genuine. Her life revolves around the One who holds the whole world in His hands and she knows that He is in control. His plans are good - for her life, for her distinct situations, for her troubling times, for her challenges, for her tragedies. He is in control. Nancy says, "And though many of us would never dare to speak such words aloud or even consciously think them, many of us are practicing athiests at times, living as if there's no God, or at least wondering if He has really messed things up this time." A true woman of God can give over her control, because she realizes that she really has no control at all - not over her next breath and not over the world around her. Nancy also says, "The true woman who trusts God doesn't have to strive. She doesn't have to be afraid. She can relinquish control. She doesn't have to manipulate and control the whole wide world (as if we could). She doesn't resent, or resist, or run from the cross. She embraces the cross with faith." A true woman of God realizes the depths of His riches... and she knows that she can trust Him.

3) A true woman says, "Yes, Lord."

A true woman of God pursues His passions for her life. She pursues the path that He has so strategically and perfectly set before her. She does not resent it; she pursues it with all her passion and all her energy. She may not understand it, but she follows anyway. Her faith is not a blind faith, but a faith that trusts in One she cannot see - because she sees His hand in her life and acknowledges it. She knows she does not have to understand. She does not have to analyze or question or try to figure out the depths of the Lord and of His Plan. She just follows Him joyfully and without hesitation. She never asks the question, "What will make me happy?" Always, she asks, "What will please You, Lord?" A true woman of God lives an intentional life, pursuing the Lord and obeying Him with all of her heart and soul. With every area of her life, she surrenders - "Yes, Lord" is the cry of the true woman's heart.

We may feel as though we are climbing the highest mountain in the world and we cannot yet see the peak of it. We question. We wonder. We cry out in exhaustion and pain as the last of our strength gives way. This - this is when we hit rock bottom and we must allow the Lord to pick us up and lift us up. For "those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint." (Isaiah 40:31)

"In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know."
-John Piper

We must continue on by the grace and strength of God. One day, we will reach the top. We will look out over the vastness of the beauty of the awesome hand of God and we will look back on the path that we have taken and we will stand in awe, speechless at the sight of the providential and perfect hand of God in our lives. The depths of His riches are too great for our feeble minds to understand. Yet may our hearts cry out, "Oh, Lord, how great Thou art!" He knows what He is doing and He knows exactly how His perfect plan is going to unfold in your life and in mine.

Until then and for all those times when we feel so very far away from the summit - from the peak of the view of the splendor and vastness of the beauty of the awesome hand of God - may we remember...

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! 'Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?'"
-Romans 11:33-34

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