Walking last evening in mid-town Manhattan, I was struck, as always, by the vast multitude of people, walking past and with me from all directions. At most, I will “know” these people in the fleeting depth of one glance, barely registering on my consciousness; soon unseated in my very limited memory by a million other sights and sounds and ideas and thoughts.
A chance visual encounter, never to be repeated; a passing glimpse that doesn’t even qualify as a passing acquaintance.
Yet – God, the Creator of us all, knows every one of those people down to the deepest atom of their bodies and souls. Every word, every thought – every moment of their lives. And millions of others in cities large and small throughout the world – towns and villages, too. And every one of our ancestors, generation after generation backwards through time – God knows and has known every person, every event, with undimmed clarity.
He even knows the unborn before we do. And the generations yet to come.
And that’s just our tiny little world. Now multiply by billions of galaxies, with countless trillions of stars – each of which God can recall by name.
I marvel at our current electronic devices, at their accelerating speed and capacity and memory. I well remember the floppy disk era of computers with 8088 processors – and yet, reading this week a new book called Turing’s Cathedral (about the development of the earliest computers in the 1940s and 50s), even those DOS-powered clunkers of the 1980’s were utter powerhouses compared to the truly primitive efforts of our earliest, room-sized machines with tiny memory and capacity.
What those earliest machines could store and compute, as marvelous as they were back then, is ant-sized compared to the most compact smartphone of today. Let alone any modern-day WOPRs (old movie trivia reference!).
Either the true God is an infinite Creator, or he is not. The Bible is refreshingly clear on this point, even if some of those who claim to believe it are rather fuzzy about who is really in charge around here. Give a fresh read to Psalm 139, which contains such provocative phrases as, “…even before there is a word on my tongue, You, O Lord, know it all…” and, “My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret…Your eyes have seen my unformed substance, and in Your book was written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.”
I will only learn a millionth of a miniscule percentage of what there is to know, and my memory, full of Swiss cheese as it is, will soon fade and fail altogether. Yes, as the psalm above beautifully affirms, I am “fearfully and wonderfully made” – yet God, the Maker, is far more fearfully and wonderfully not-made. Our minds and machines are mere molecules in the face of an infinite Creator and Sustainer of a massive (but finite) universe, whose fingerprints are all over everything created inside and outside of us.
Sometimes, people very casually employ the phrase, “God knows!” Perhaps we should never hear that phrase casually again.
It’s no wonder that we are called, first and foremost, to worship.