God Is Greater Than Our Consciousness

Inside the chapel.

I mentioned in a previous post that Kirk and I have been attending a contemplative eucharist service on Sunday evenings at a little episcopal church around the corner from our house. I’ve come to love the rhythm of stillness, attentiveness, and quiet that the service invites into our life each week. We usually arrive about 15 minutes early to settle into the quietness of the chapel and still our hearts before God. The lights are dimmed, with candles burning and sacred chant music playing quietly in the background. It’s really something special to have found.

A couple weeks ago, as I sat in stillness before the service began, looking up at the altar and listening to the soft chant music, I was struck by the immeasurability of God. The thought crossed my mind: “God is greater than our consciousness.” 

I often talk of the personal, tender, and compassionate nature of God. I have experienced the closeness of Christ and know that his eye is on the sparrow just as much as it’s on me. All of that is so, so true, and it brings me great joy and hope to have come to know God in that way. 

But it is also true that God is far beyond our consciousness. 

There are no words that can fully contain God. There are no man-made categories that will ever be enough to describe or understand who God is. God is beyond our comprehension, and all words and images given to us to understand God are still merely a shadow of God’s reality. 

In some ways, I think the words and images given to us to understand those mere shadows are a reflection of God’s compassionate mercy toward us. God wants to be known by us, but it is also true that we can never fully comprehend the vastness of God. Words and images are like clay pots that hold just a portion of who God is … but how wonderful to have been given clay pots instead of nothing.

I used to feel a bit put off by this notion of the incomprehensibility of God. It made God feel so far away, too big for us. 

Now I find it rather comforting. I want a God who knows more than I know and holds within his nature and his knowledge and ability more than any human being can ever fathom. That is what makes God, God. There is a rest and a trust that can be found there. 

How does this notion strike you? What is it like to consider the closeness of God alongside the vastness of God?