While attending Into the Noise (ITN) a few months ago, I made a new friend–artist and educator, John Donnelly. He was in town for ArtPrize (one of his pieces was in the competition) and penciled himself in for a couple of sessions of ITN. After a day of taking in art by our lonesomes, we all met back up for dinner. I plopped into a chair and John slid into the bench across from me, and that’s pretty much how we met.
I don’t know if it was the mind-blowing, cheese-stuffed, pretzel bites or the award-winning libations of that overly hospitable establishment, but soon John and I found ourselves talking about God.
For John, God is like a mountain. He talked about that moment when you’re driving, and you see a mountain on the horizon. Even though it’s still 60 miles away, its beauty and majesty is enough to take your breath away. In your head, you define it: “Beautiful Mountain.” You point at it and shout to everyone in the car, “Wow! Look! Mountain!” You have an idea of what all that it is (or at least you think you do): a big and beautiful purply mass of earth and rock.
Then you get closer, and the mountain reveals more.
Not only does the range keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger until eventually it fills the entire landscape, it gets even more majestic, more defined, more abundant. Hunched over and peering through the top of your windshield, you can’t help but stare up at the snow-covered caps. Your palms sweat as you start your ascent.
And then, you are on the mountain. Surrounded by looming walls of rock, perilous cliffs, magnificent heights. You realize you are a powerless speck. Your awe returns, this time a bit more fearful. Around one bend, though, you find a 100-foot waterfall. Around another, a bear forages through the foliage. People are pulled up along side it and snapping pictures! And then it hits you: all this beauty and wonder, these are only the things in plain sight. What about the things you can’t see? Were you to dig into the ground, what would you find there? Maybe fossils or fire ants or gold.
On the mountain, you suddenly become humbly aware of how tiny you are, how little you really know, and the infinite abundance of all there is.
Strangers and friends, I like the way John thinks about God. In all we do know about Him, there will always be more. We will never reach an end to knowing God more fully or deeply.
As we think on how this all relates to God’s Economy of Wisdom, and our pursuits of knowledge, may we remember that this spinning-piece-of-granite-we-like-to-call-a-planet is His, made through Him, it is like Him. So, when we journey though and explore all that is around us, when we dig our hands into the rocky-mountain soil and discover, we aren’t just learning more about mere stuff or the things we already know; we are learning more about Him. And there will always be more to learn: more to uncover, more to explore and discern, more to know. And it will lead to more jaw-dropping awe than we can possibly imagine. So, let’s dig in.
PS – Here’s one of my favorite songs about exploring “the Mountain.”