Relevant magazine

Can We Know God?

This is an abbreviated version of the article by Johnathan Martin on http://www.relevantmagazine.com.

There is no conspiracy to keep obstacles between us and God.

When the mystery of God first struck the ground, crackling with the electricity of a storm on Mount Sinai, it was the people who said, “Don’t let Him speak to us directly or we will die.”

We are often the ones inserting ourselves in that space.We fill the space between us with everything we can get our hands on because, deep down, we know there is something terrible about staring into the mystery for ourselves and finding ourselves fully seen and fully known in return.

Even if we find a gaze of love staring back at us, we are uncomfortable with the wildness in that gaze. To encounter God is to encounter lack of control, to come to terms with our own ultimate powerlessness.

To encounter God is to discover both how small we are and how beloved we are, and we are not prepared either to be so insignificant or so desperately loved.

There is something tender about the presence of God and the voice of God, a tenderness that never fails to break our hearts. The the heartbreak of a relationship with God is not sentimental in the least—it is the sheer goodness of God, the tenderness of His heart that relentlessly shatters our own.

We have been presumptuous to think we know what God might be saying or what He wants in a given situation, smug in our judgments. And then comes the real voice of God, which always turns out to be more tender, more gentle, more loving than what we could have imagined. That unfathomable mercy that, more than any of the extraordinary things we might say about God, ultimately makes Him the most unlike us.

However broken we might feel or be, it takes a certain courage to stare into the whirlwind—to fix our gaze into the storm that knows us—without flinching, without covering ourselves, without looking away.

And when we stay there long enough, a figure emerges from the storm. Like the Israelites when God appeared on Sinai, we are tempted to cower in terror, to find someone to stand between us and Him.

And again comes the voice, as familiar on this new mountain as it was in the midst of the storm—except this time not just a voice, but a hand that reaches out to touch us. “Get up, and do not be afraid.” The same terror, the same glory, but with a tender touch and a voice that has always been familiar—telling us we have no reason to fear. From out of the whirlwind, from out of the storm, Jesus comes walking.