God of Hope: Incomprehensible and Approachable

Years ago, my husband, my parents, and I attended the “Indescribable Tour,” an evening of worship with Chris Tomlin and teaching with Louie Giglio. It was a night of stargazing – not the celebrity sort, but the celestial. Like the Psalmist who said, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them” (8:3-4), Chris and Louie set out to give us eyes to see just how incomprehensible the universe and its Creator are to us.

Taking us out beyond earth, our sun, and our Milky Way Galaxy, Louie began naming various points of interest in the universe on the way to the furthest point any human eye had ever seen. Showing a picture taken by the Hubble Telescope, Louie kept zooming in on the Whirlpool Galaxy, taking us closer and closer to its center, the “X-Structure.” 

Louie reminded us that through Jesus, God created everything on earth – and in the heavens (Colossians 1:16). Then he clicked the final slide to reveal what sat at the core of this “X-Structure,” thirty-one million light years away. A cross. 

Not long after our “Indescribable” experience, I watched a sermon Louie had given that took listeners in the opposite direction – microscopic. As he went deeper into our biological cells, he zoomed in on a tiny protein called Laminin, which exists in our body in the shape of…a cross.

Jesus is everywhere. 

Revelation describes Him as the “Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made” (8:13, NLT).

Paul describes Him as Creator of the world and Redeemer of the New Creation:

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
    He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,
for through him God created everything
    in the heavenly realms and on earth.
He made the things we can see
    and the things we can’t see—
such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world.
    Everything was created through him and for him.
He existed before anything else,
    and he holds all creation together.
Christ is also the head of the church,
    which is his body.
He is the beginning,
    supreme over all who rise from the dead.
    So he is first in everything.
For God in all his fullness
    was pleased to live in Christ,
and through him God reconciled
    everything to himself.
He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth
    by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Colossians 1:15-20, NLT

Jesus is everywhere. 

Paul’s poem tries to capture for us how unfathomable this Firstborn over all creation is while at the same time pointing us to the One who can be known – two states of being that seem impossible to be held together. And yet, Jesus embodies both the incomprehensible and the approachable. 

An Invitation

In much the same way as Paul, John waxes poetic about our unfathomable Maker:

In the beginning the Word already existed.
    The Word was with God,
    and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
    and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
    and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
    and the darkness can never extinguish it.

John 1:1-5, NLT

And, like Paul, John brings the incomprehensible down to a moment of invitation: “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness” (v.14). The One who spoke and brought the universe into being also stepped down onto the planet He’d populated to become a person of flesh. Not to judge us but to live like us – and to offer humanity a way back into the loving arms of the Father.

Talk about unfathomable.

Oh So Tired

I don’t know where this finds you today, friend. But, I suspect most of us at some level are tired. Maybe we’re mentally exhausted by the constant bombardment of bad news. Perhaps we’re physically worn down by long to-do lists or the constant companion of chronic illness. Some of us even feel depleted spiritually, wondering where God is in all the mess.

Jesus in His humanity knew this kind of fatigue (John 4:6). He knew the temptation of giving in to hunger or pride or desperation (Luke 4:2,7,9). Yet – Isaiah reminds us – unlike our God, we are limited in our ability to push through in our own strength day after day. It doesn’t matter our health status or age:

Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall.

Isaiah 40:30

Isaiah doesn’t point this out to make us feel worse about ourselves but to offer hope – because our God is unlimited in power and might. And, He offers His strength to us:

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
    Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.
    I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

Isaiah 41:10, NLT

The Both-And God

The hope we need is not rooted in ourselves, other people, or even the promises of the world. Our hope is a person – Jesus. Who both numbers every star and knows each of our names. Who both spins planets into orbit and supplies each of us with what we need. Who both stands above us in the heavens and reaches His hand down to pull us into a hug.

So, as we sit in the tension of such a paradoxical deity, may we begin to recognize just how beautiful it is that Jesus is both incomprehensible and approachable – because somehow we find exactly what we need in the One who calls us His. With His mind-blowing abilities to create and sustain AND with His grace to redeem and draw near, our both-and God embodies our every hope.

Father God, like Paul and John we get all mushy inside thinking about all that You have done to establish the entire universe and to meticulously create bodily systems that function beyond the view of the human eye. How grateful we are for your grace and gift of life. How much we desire to put our whole hope in You. Lord Jesus, You are everywhere. How humbly we come to You, knowing how tiny we are in the big picture of galaxies and histories. You, who put every star and planet in place also walked this earth to die for our sins. The two ideas are inconceivable together – and yet, this is who You are.The fact that You dwell in us, continuously inviting us into your presence, is more than our minds can take in. Holy Spirit, how we need You. We’re so easily wearied, so quickly weakened in our flesh. To know that You are constantly with us gives us hope to keep our eyes on the Maker of the skies, trusting that He will continue to keep the universe aligned and working – including our very small and significant pieces of it. God of all hope, fill me with joy and peace as I put my trust in You, that I might overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen. 
(Ephesians 2:8; Romans 6:23; Psalm 8:3-4; Romans 5:8; Romans 8:10; 1 Corinthians 6:19; Romans 15:13)

Resources: I love sharing with you the books, podcasts, articles, and anything else that has inspired, encouraged, or taught me. These are humble offerings with no expectations. (The first four are resources noted in the post.)

  • Of course, YouTube has the Indescribable talk Louie gave all those years ago. 😉 It’s about an 43 minutes long, but you can skim through parts of it to see some of those stops along the way to Whirlpool Galaxy — or head to the 37 minute mark to see the cross. And, here’s a segment of the sermon where Louie Giglio talks about Laminin.
  • The Bible Project blog has an article about the Colossians 1 poem that Paul wrote.
  • Our God of Hope playlist continues to anchor me in the hope I need each and everyday. I hadn’t included “Indescribable” on our playlist, but Chris’ song, “Everlasting God,” captures all the waiting we do in faith — and all the strength God has for us. Also, an artist who is new to me, Jervis Campbell, has a song on our list, “Hold Me Together,” that’s been rolling around in my soul for a few weeks now. It’s so cool to think of Jesus as what holds all creation together (Colossians 1:17) — and what holds us together.

Rhythms we can incorporate into our daily lives to aid us in our dwelling with God, living for Him, and putting our hope in Him:

  • Lenten rhythms often include fasts from things like food or TV or social media. Sometimes they include something we add to our usual routine — like Scripture memorization. I’m a new believer when it comes to putting passages to memory because I’m discovering it’s so much more than a checkbox duty. It’s empowerment because it’s truth. It’s a “listening to and learning the voice of our Creator and Redeemer” — it’s “shaping our minds in the moment to mimic the structure and mind-set of the mind of God” (David Mathis, chapter 5, Habits of Grace). This practice becomes a means of approaching our incomprehensible God so that we can know Him and become like Him!!!!!! So. Let’s add another verse to our Lenten passage:

    Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
    The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.

    He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
    He gives strength to the weary
        and increases the power of the weak.

    Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;

    Isaiah 40:28-30, NIV
  • Finally, as a community, let us not neglect sharing God’s hope with others — especially as Easter approaches! Share your God-stories with people around you. Share this site. Share God’s Word. Shine His light into the world! 

Featured Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash. Bits and Pieces photo by Aleksandra Sapozhnikova on Unsplash.
^ Affiliate link, with which I may earn a bit.

Source: Bible Project on the Colossians 1 poem.

Published by Shelley Linn Johnson

Lover of The Word. And words. Cultivator of curiosity about all things Christ. Lifelong learner who likes inviting others along for the journey. Recovering perfectionist who has only recently realized that rhythms are so much better than stress-inducing must-do's.

4 thoughts on “God of Hope: Incomprehensible and Approachable

  1. Loved this blog. It brought memories of the concert and how blown away we all were!

    Sent from my iPhone


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