As I wrote in a previous blog, I am attempting to read No Rusty Swords, papers and lectures by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s a difficult book, to put it mildly, but it is a book I’ve wanted to read for a long time. Part of the difficulty rests in the frequent use of Latin phrases which I have to take time to look up in order for the sentence to make sense. The other difficulty is that Dietrich Bonhoeffer's level of thinking was so much deeper than mine, there are times I just don’t get it and have to read the page over several times.
The other day I was reading an inaugural dissertation that preceded Bonhoeffer's book, Act and Being, and was accepted by the University of Berlin in 1930…nine years before his murder. While reading this dissertation I read the following sentences:
“There is a genuine recognition of value only in love. In love man soars to the perception of the eternal and highest value of the holy, God. He embraces the all in himself, he is able to embrace God himself in passionate gazing.”
But what is it that makes me so joyful from a song that I hear often and it seems the more I hear it the more the tears flow freely? Is it joy in nature? No, that’s not it. What then? It’s not like I understand the beauty of God. It’s not like I can see his glory. It’s not like my mind can even or ever comprehend what it is going to be like to see God, the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit in his complete glory. What then?
The answer, though not a perfect concept, lies within two words: passionate gazing. To me, passionate gazing has nothing to do with understanding. We will never understand the ways of God. He told us so in Isaiah, 55:9.
And this verse brings me to the beauty of the stars. I never tire of gazing at the stars, but I am as far from understanding the concepts of astronomy as I am from understanding the thinking of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The universe and Bonhoeffer have one thing in common and, in fact, I share the same commonality: we were all created by the Almighty God; whereas Almighty God was not created by anyone. As a friend of mine marvels, He is “The Self Sustaining One”. From eternity past He was, He is now, and in eternity future He will be. There is no beginning and no ending with God; Alpha and Omega. How can I hope to understand that?
I cannot, but it doesn’t bother me as much as one might think. I am content, indeed I am in deep gratitude that at least some part of my being can guess the beauty and majesty of God Almighty and that God Almighty loves me (and each individual that ever was conceived and each individual that ever will be conceived) so much that it brings me to my knees in incomprehensible gratitude and joy.
And so, I will continue to gaze passionately and without understanding at my God and my King and joy in the tears of joy I shed. If you see me in such a state, don’t make the assumption that I am sad or unhappy. These tears are the only way I can express that glimpse I cannot comprehend but know it is awe of my God.