By Adam Faughn
As the song says of our God, "I stand in awe of You." When we try to think of God, it is both a glorious comfort and a mind-boggling exercise. We simply cannot fathom His perfect attributes, but we are grateful for each one of them.
Add to that trying to describe those attributes, and we will always come up short. It is not wrong for us to seek to describe them, but we must realize that any analogy or picture we use can never fully give a sense of something that is infinite and beyond our ability to comprehend.
However, then we turn to the Bible, and we see texts where inspired writers did try to give us descriptions to at least put these traits into words that we could understand. Scores of times, we have these descriptions, but for this article, I want to focus on just two that are found in back-to-back verses because they both involve "directions," but the vastness of those directions boggle our minds.
In Psalm 103, David writes what we have as 22 verses praising God. It is a poem that, from beginning to end, gives us language to use to honor and glorify our heavenly Father. Right in the middle of that poem, we read these two verses:
For as high as the heavens are abovethe earth, so great is His steadfast lovetoward those who fear Him; as far asthe east is from the west, so far does
He remove our transgressions from us. (verses 11-12) In those two beautiful verses, notice these two "directions."
1. The Infinite Height of His Love. How far are the heavens above the earth? When David wrote these words, there was simply no way he could have understood just how far "out there" space goes. While humans have understood for a long time that stars and planets were a long way away, they simply did not have the tools to understand just how far. Amazingly, we are not sure either, even with our modern technology.
That said, we do know that when we consider the distance from the surface of the earth to the farthest known reaches of space, we are dealing with multiple billions of light-years. The distances to these places are expressed in numbers too large for most of us to even fathom.
David used that concept to say that if you were to start on the surface of the earth and go "up," you could just keep going through the heavens–as far as you could go–and that would be some way to express the magnitude of the love (literally, the covenant of love and mercy) that God has toward His people. It is a concept that, though we adore it, we cannot possibly fathom it completely
2. The Infinite Width of His Forgiveness. If you were to leave your front door this morning, turn east and go as far east as you could travel (assuming you could swim or take a boat across the waters in your way), how far would you go until you turned west? You never would! If you don't believe me, put your finger on a globe and spin it, keeping your finger on the surface of the globe. You can keep spinning and spinning forever and never have to change direction.
That might just be why David chose the word picture of "east and west" in verse 12. After all, if you go north, you will eventually turn south (and vice versa), but if you go east, you never have to go west (and vice versa)!
That is a picture of how far away God sends your sins when He forgives. And look at verse 12 again. It does not say that He sends those sins away from Him that far (although that would be true); it says He sends them away from us by that vast difference. hose sins are remembered by our God no more (cf. Hebrews 8:12). Our sins are not held against us by our God even to the tiniest degree once they are forgiven. There is an infinite distance between our soul and our sin when God forgives.
With those two pictures in mind, go back to how we started. These word pictures are amazingly comforting and should leave us in awe of our God. And one reason that should be true is because, as mind-boggling as these pictures are, they still do not perfectly describe God's love or forgiveness because these traits of our Father are literally infinite and limitless.
That is the God we love and serve, and it is the God we should always "stand in awe of." Infinite love. Infinite forgiveness. That's our God!