This week we are at Topsail Beach along the North Carolina coast. The days are decidedly slow- paced and, so far, filled with sun and surf. There is nothing much to do except swim and relax and enjoy the sun-filled ocean breezes.
A number of years ago, John Killinger wrote a little volume entitled Thoughts of God from a Summer Beach. One of his reflections centered on a young girl excitedly digging in the sand with her small shovel. She would rush to the edge of the waves lapping the shoreline and fill her bucket with water. Then, almost giddy, she would rush back to the hole and empty her water pail. Back and forth, she would go, delighted with the prospect of filling the little hole with the mighty ocean.
Killinger suggested our own efforts at trying to articulate the ways of God are captured in this scene. We think we have come upon some great insight into the ways of the Almighty and beam with pride, no doubt, on the way we have formulated our little revelation. Yet, our efforts at capturing the vastness of God are as meager as the efforts of a young girl trying to capture the ocean in a small hole.
This is not to suggest, we should not try to understand or express our understandings of God. Theology is built on such an enterprise. Preaching demands such expression. Yet, we should be humble in our approach. We should recognize “for my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways, declares the Lord.” (Is. 55:8) Indeed, how vast is “the breadth and length and height and depth” of the love of God in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 3:18)
I look forward to returning to you with my little bucket in hand. Yet, the vastness of the ocean does indeed, help keep things in perspective.