By Susan K. Smith,
The declaration of God’s excellence is captured in Psalm 8: O Lord, our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!” After Psalm 23, the psalm my mother required us to learn was this one. “There’s nobody and nothing greater or grander than God,” she would say. She would make us look at the sky at night – I mean, make us, look up, make us notice the constellations, and say, “You can’t go through life not knowing how great God is.” One night I decided I would try to count the stars, and she just laughed …but let me try. I think I had gotten to about 100, thinking that was a lot of stars, surely, and Mama said, “That’s why God is so great. God has stars in places no human will ever see.”
The facts of science bear her out. There are more stars, it says in Scientific American, than words ever uttered by all the humans that ever lived. I for one stand amazed at the fact that in the area of human physiology, the spongy mass called the brain is this complicated yet sophisticated mass of cells and blood vessels which control every single thing we do; the average human brain has an estimated 100 billion cells and each of those cells can connect to hundreds of thousands of other cells.
Who cares? Who cares about the magnificence of God, the depth of God’s excellence? We should, because surely, a God who created more stars that words ever uttered by all the humans who ever lived, and a God who created a spongy mass that looks like nothing, but which has at least 100 billion cells…is a God who can handle our pain, our questions, our struggles, our issues. If we would but stop and concentrate on the magnificence of God, and on what God has already done, might it happen that we would relinquish doubt and anxiety that keep us boxed into places that restrict us? Might it be that we would develop a trust in God that would transfer over into our work to build God’s kingdom on this earth…that would be pleasing to God?
This God cannot be put into a box, but we try to do that. We try to stuff God into our realities, instead of allowing God to usher us into His/Her reality. The psalmist knew it. He wrote, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings, that you care for them?” It is singularly amazing, and an honor – that God thinks of us as worthy of divine time. God is willing to give God’s self to us, but we so often reject the divine overtures that would most definitely help us cope with what is going on in our personal lives and what is going on in the world.
As God has stars in places that no human will ever see, as my mother said, so does God have answers and ways out in places which we cannot imagine and will not access unless and until we can stop and consider the depth of God’s excellence. We as human beings have given the “isms” of life way too much power, even as we have marginalized God, but if we would really relinquish our need to be in control, our need to steer the ship, God would do what God is divinely equipped to do. There is no racism, no sexism, no homophobic attitude that God cannot handle. There is no personal pain that God cannot help us through. If we could stop long enough to look at the heavens, and declare the excellence of God – once a day – perhaps we could draw closer to God and give God room to draw closer to us so that we could benefit from God’s presence in ways that we have not yet realized.
Surely, God wants for our relationship with Him/Her to deepen. God wants us to feel the awe of God’s excellence, and wants us to inhale a sense of honor at having been “considered” by God to be worthy of being drawn close, invited into holy space. In the presence of God, we are allowed to see the expanse of God’s excellence. It is more mighty and impressive by anything money can buy or that the human mind can imagine. The issues of life – God can handle. God knows it …but God wants us to know that as well.
Inhale the beauty of God’s holiness and the depth of God’s excellence. Exhale the doubt and the need to be in control…and rest in the only Arms that can keep us intact in the midst of a very broken world.
Amen. And amen.