God, as Truth and Mystery

Moses receives three successive visions of God: first he sees God in a vision of light at the burning bush (Ex. 3:2); next God is revealed to him through mingled light and darkness, in the "pillar of cloud and fire" which accompanies the people of Israel through the desert (Ex. 13:21); and then finally he meets God in a "non-vision", when he speaks with him in the "thick darkness" at the summit of Mount Sinai (Ex. 20:21).
Kallistos Ware, in the chapter "God as Mystery" from "The Orthodox Way", St Vladimir's Seminary Press: 1979. 13
First, He shows me that I can know Him. Then, He shows me that I cannot define Him. First, He shows me that He is. Then, He shows me that He is more. First, He shows me that He is Truth. Then, He shows me that He is Mystery.

He demonstrates a fascinating flair for helping us balance our understanding of Him and our glorious inadequacy to do so.

I say it is glorious because it is this very inadequacy (and His depth by contrast) that creates the opportunity for discovery. My finiteness and His infiniteness create the potential for adventure in our relationship with each other. If He were finite, then the ocean could be mapped. I could find an end and the story would conclude, or continue in purposeless boredom.

But instead I delight in exploring His inexhaustible reaches, and He delights in giving me my delight. He shares Himself with me, and I share myself with Him—the difference being that His gift to me continually comes, and mine is but a drop. But this does not mean that the relationship is one-sided! No.

Because He is infinite, our relationship together is infinite. It is an interminable and inexhaustible, intimate connection, because relationship is about responding to each other, and when one gives without end the other receives without end. And, as anyone who has loved the purest kind of love can attest, giving is a kind of receiving. Together we share an infinite source of joy, which is our relationship with each other—I in Him, and He in me in Him, unending.

First, He says, "You can know me." Then, He says, "But I am more than you can fully know. There will always be more." And I say, "So exciting!"

And so, it is in our relationship with Him that we find both our fulfillment and thirst!
In the very nature of being—that is, God—it must be hard (and divine history shows how hard) to create that which shall be not himself, yet like himself. The problem is to separate from himself that which must yet be ever and always and utterly dependent on him, and to separate it sufficiently that it shall have the existence of a free individual. Only so shall it be able to turn and regard him—choose him, and say, "I will arise and go to my Father." Only so shall it develop in itself the highest divine of which it is capable—the will able to side with the good against the evil, the will to be one with the life whence it has come and in which it still is....

Hence the final end of the separation is not individuality. That is but a means to it. The final end is oneness—an impossibility without the prior separation. For there can be no unity, no delight of love, no harmony, no good in being, where there is but one. Two at least are needed for oneness. And the greater the number of individuals, the greater, the lovelier, the richer, the diviner is the possible unity.
George MacDonald, in his essay "Life" from "Unspoken Sermons, Second Series" as edited in "Your Life in Christ" by George MacDonald, ed. Michael Phillips

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  1. Anonymous Sun Feb 22, 03:46:00 AM EST

    Hey Dave!
    Finally catching up on my blog reading. Great post. Wow, some heady stuff, man! What's most amazing to me is the delight He takes in our sharing ourselves with Him. He who knows all, sees all, who created us, delights in our self-disclosure! How amazing is that!

    Thanks for posting this rich entry. Lots of food for thought and meditation.