I just heard this song this week. I think I’d heard it before, but not as powerfully as in the chapel of Southern Seminary this past Thursday, February 14. John Piper was about to deliver his quiet and moving sermon, which meant that there was an electricity in the air. The chapel itself was full to overflowing. It was a good day, a day to celebrate the Lord.
That’s what the song above does: it celebrates the transcendence of Almighty God. Whether or not we are consciously aware of it, this is what we most need in life. We don’t most need friends or family or jobs or money or homes. We don’t most need the absence of pain or struggle or challenge. We most need God himself.
We need his transcendence to rush over us, to consume us, to undo us.
The King James Version of the Scripture often has the most eloquent translation, and this holds true in Isaiah 6:5. “Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” That little phrase, “I am undone,” signals what happens when we come into contact with the living God. Our frail bodies and senses cannot bear the grandeur of the sight. We are not able to sustain the experience. God is too great for us.
The mystery of it all is that this is a good undoing. Jesus has brought us into the holy place through his blood. We are able to enter the courtroom of the great I Am. We are able to go there every day. We are able to stand, somehow, in his presence. We can enter, because we are forgiven, and we can worship him. This is a second undoing. The sovereignty and power and beauty of Almighty God leaves us awestruck. We delight in God, but this is really too weak an expression for what happens to us.
We are undone. But we are not destroyed. Somehow, in gazing on God, we are remade by him. We see that we are not the measure of all things, but that he is. We see that he is good to us. We see that though he is great, and we don’t deserve to know him, he has made it so. That knowledge undoes us. It causes all our struggles to recede–not in the sense that we lose them, but in the sense that we see them in perspective to God. They are not consuming, as they appear to be. They will not dominate us, as it seems they will.
Satan can’t kill us, as he wants to do.
We are safe in God, hidden in Christ, but more than this, we are lost. We are lost in him. The crowds tried to grab Jesus to stone him, but like Elijah, he was with them, and then he was not. So it is with us. A fallen order wants us, but we are not here. We are lost in God. We walk with him. The world thinks we are here, but we are not.