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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Glory of God and the Deep Waters of Life

Deep waters tell the glory of God. That is, just as when we approach these waters recklessly and face peril, so too those who approach the glory of God are in peril if they do not respect His Word. Deep waters are a reflection of this truth. This is true of the visible waters of the world but also the invisible, spiritual waters of our lives. Water that can be the source of life can also kill. The glory of God is meant to be the life of man, but without the reverence and awe that is its due, this same glory can become one's eternal peril.

The glory of God is the living man. This means, that before the glory of God there is space for the sphere of one's integrity. Obedience to the Lord in love creates this space so that the unrepeatable uniqueness that God has willed into the world through this specific creature might thrive. Disobedience makes one's uniqueness subject to the deep waters of life, and puts at risk a great good meant to be a blessing for the world.

Water is integral to a garden paradise. As it is in a garden, so it is in all of creation, and, thus, for every soul. Each life requires an ordered space to protect the sphere of its integrity. Too much or too little water is destructive. What physical water is for the visible world, the presence of God is for the spiritual world. That is why God both gives and hides his life giving mystery—He gives us life and wills us into existence out of love, and he also makes space for each of us to exist with our own freedom by keeping the immensity of His presence secret. This divine secrecy allows our own freedom to unfold until we learn to seek God.

Part of this divine secret is not only God's presence but also the painful exigencies in which He allows Himself to be hidden. Such exigencies are also "deep water." Just as is true with all else in human existence, these difficult ambiguities of life are part of the divine plan but as we are swept away by these waters, we also confront the seeming absence of God, His hidden presence.

His hidden presence is revealed to us by His Word and His Word speaks into the dangerous waters of life from the Cross. God desires we sanctify these waters by discerning how to obey His Word in midst of them. As we discern the most appropriate way to respond to God in the ambiguities of life, God acts to protect our integrity and hold together our dignity. By the frail obedience of faith, God makes something un-repeatably beautiful within the human person. The interiority or heart becomes a garden where God walks, where He rests.

The Biblical Man respects the glory of the deep waters of life by obedience and dedication to the Word so that the Lord can cultivate the garden of his heart. Water first appears in Genesis as part of a primordial chaos in which there is no room or order for life. Some would see this analogous to the power of sin and darkness. Indeed, the waters of the Great Deluge would seem to unveil this truth. It is true that every sin has the quality of disorder, an effort against the act of creation. Sin is a movement against order and the integrity that life needs. Sin is a movement of disobedience against the harmony of love into chaos. Such disharmony destroys the noble and good things God would will grow in the heart.

There is a difference between the chaos of sin and the primordial chaos described in Genesis, however. The Water over which the Spirit of the Lord whispered was not disobedient but had itself been summoned into existence by the Word of the Father. When God commanded, this primordial water obeyed. Out of this obedience, God was able to freely order a world in which life might thrive and His glory be revealed.

Deep waters also reveal God's glory in the face of sin. Every act of sin may be an attempt, conscious or not, to return to primal disorder. That attempt goes against the very fabric of God's handiwork—for in the beginning, the world came into existence under the power of the Holy Spirit in obedience to the Word. Those who act against the primordial obedience of the waters of creation plunge themselves into forces that destroy their efforts. The plight of humanity is that we have made ourselves subject to these waters by our sins and therefore have brought doom upon ourselves. God, however, was not satisfied with leaving us to our fate. He who made the deep waters of life, all those tragic failures, evils and injustices that overwhelm us, has entered into them to rescue us from death.

There is a love that deep waters cannot quench and that death cannot overcome. Why would the Almighty create something outside of Himself, beyond His own eternal thoughts? Why would He communicate an existence apart from His own to that which He ponders when He ponders us? There is a truth, a secret that we do not know, but He knows it, even as He plunged into the flood waters to find us. He generously willed it so. Creation exists because from the beginning God respected its integrity and, out of pure love, gave space for it to be outside His eternal, limitless being. Out of an unfathomable love, the Trinity hid His Glory so that the world might exist to magnify and reflect His Glory in its own wonderful way. Now, He enters into this world that is totally other than Himself. He even enters its hostility towards Him and accepts being despised and rejected, if only to find us. It is this unvanquished love that is revealed on the Cross.

O Love who is not loved! Love who knows no limit desires out of sheer limitless goodness that we who are other than Him (and therefore limited) should exist. That is why, even as you read this, we exist in our own limited way—for Love delights that we should be so. Thus, though other than Him, we exist in the image and likeness of Love Himself. At the same time, Love wants so much more for us. We love Him when we allow Him to bring to completion the love that He desires for us. Love Himself knows something about us that we do not know—the truth about the Love in whose image and likeness we are made. This mystery that we are meant to become thrills His heart and for it, Love has given everything in order that it might come to pass.

God suffers the deep waters of life to exist out of great love and for the sake of love. Love does not need the these waters but is glad that the world with its deep waters should be. Sheer gratuitous goodness is behind these waters. This same loving gratuitousness is behind humanity, even sinful humanity. Though we sin, we would not have the freedom to rebel against Love if Love, on a more fundamental level, did not contemplate that it is better for us to be than not to be. So He enters the garden of our hearts and offers His life on the barren tree that we erect for Him. Love knows the truth about us and has died for that truth that we might live. Thus, though we rebel against Him who is Goodness itself, He has chosen to love us all the more, and tenderly implicating Himself in our plight.

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