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Thereís None Like You
July 14, 1991

2 SAMUEL 7:18-29

"You are great, O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you." 2 Samuel 7:22 Following the prophet Nathanís words to King David about the Lordís house, and how the Lord will make a house of David that will be made sure forever, and a throne that will be established forever, David burst into praise. His heart filled with the joy of the blessing he had received, and he exclaimed, "How great thou art, O Lord God; for there is none like you, and there is no God besides you."

This morning letís get our minds off ourselves for awhile, and consider God. Most of us want to experience God in our lives. We want to believe. We want to find God. We want to be loved by the Creator of the universe. Most of us want our daily existence transcended. Deep down we feel there is more to life than I, my, mine, and me. There must be more to life than getting up, eating, working, coming home, watching TV, and going to bed. Edith asked Archie, "Do you like being alone with me?" "Certainly I like being alone with you. Whatís on television?"

This morning, letís clear our minds and catch a glimpse of the Lord God; the wonder, mystery, awe, grace, love, omnipotence, transcendence of the God who has been revealed to us in Jesus Christ. If youíre like I am, you have difficulty focusing on God. It is difficult for many of us to contemplate God. We get ourselves mixed in. Thereís too much I, my, mine, and me in my world. One reason why Sunday worship is so important because it helps us focus on God. We sing an opening hymn praising God, but it is even difficult to find hymns that focus on God; most of them get us into the act.

When you attempt to focus on God, what do you image? We know God is not a person, but how do you image something other than a person? I donít know about you but I do have difficulty imaging the Wholly Other, or the Ground of our Being, or the Process by which everything is created and maintained, or the Prime Mover, or Spirit or energy. Some of the Eastern meditation religions visualize nothing, teaching worshipers to empty their minds. I find that difficult. Something always sneaks in to fill the vacuum.

One image some have found helpful is light. Light is a popular image in the Bible. Jesus said, "I am the light of the world." Image a light like the sun. The sun has been a focus of our attention this past week. The solar eclipse caught our attention as it did primitive peoples in ancient history. We can appreciate how frightened they must have been when the sun darkened, and night came in the middle of the day. Renae brought her telescope to church, set it up on Wesley Room porch, and projected the image of the sun on to a film negative. We were fascinated. The children from the Childrenís Center came out to see. Passersby on the sidewalk stopped and looked. We had a great time. Picture God like the sun, although one fellow thinks the moon is more important than the sun because the moon shines at night when it is dark!

The sun is life giving, renewing, healing, warming. Donít you enjoy lying in the sun when youíre tired, or when you ache? Image the light of God like the sun shining on you, surrounding you, healing you, warming you, loving you. When you feel lonely, cold and isolated, let the light of God warm you, love you, enfold and embrace you. When you feel sinful, dirty, unclean, let the light of God burn all the evil out of you, renewing you, giving you new life. When you feel overwhelmed by life, drowned by life, let the light of God like the sun dry you out.

If you find this image of light helpful in understanding and relating to God, thatís good; but donít push the image too far. Remember, you cannot put God in a box. You cannot put God into one image. You cannot confine God to your ideas or your beliefs. There is no human theology, or belief system, or church that can capture God. No one can explain God, or define God. I am suspicious of two kinds of people, those who smile too much, and those who have all the answers. Meet someone who has all the answers about God, and you are meeting someone who knows zilch.

Anthony de Mello, in his book, The Song of the Bird, p. 3, writes:

The disciples were full of questions about God. Said the master, "God is the Unknown and the Unknowable. Every statement about God, every answer to your questions, is a distortion of the truth." The disciples were bewildered. "Then, why do you speak about God at all?" "Why does the bird sing?" said the master.

We talk about God, not because we know all the answers, but because we want to sing, we want to praise, our hearts burst with joy, "You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like you." God is to be enjoyed, not explained to death. God is to be experienced, not just intellectualized.

Also from the Song of the Bird, p. 32-33

The explorer returned to his people,

who were eager to know about the

Amazon. But how could he ever put into

words the feelings that flooded his heart

when he saw exotic flowers

and heard the night-sounds of the forest;

when he sensed the danger of wild

beasts or paddled his canoe over

treacherous rapids?

He said, "Go and find out for yourselves."

To guide them

he drew a map of the river.

They pounced upon the map. They framed it

in their town hall. They made

copies of it for themselves. And all who had a

copy considered themselves experts on the

river, for did they not know its every turn

and bend, how broad it was

and how deep, where the rapids were

and where the falls?

It is said that Buddha refused to be drawn into talking about God. He was probably familiar with the dangers of drawing maps for armchair explorers.

The Amazon is waiting there for us to explore. God is waiting for us to experience for ourselves. Donít turn maps and guidebooks into imitations of the real thing. Donít take other peopleís experiences for your own. Donít depend on other peopleís descriptions. God can be experienced by you. God wants a relationship with you, personally. Focus on God for a few minutes throughout each day. Pray to the Lord. Relax in the Lord. Let the Lord love you, heal you, purify you by burning away the impurities. Let the Lord transform you and guide you. Experience God for yourself.

A dialogue between a recent convert and an unbelieving friend:"So you have been converted to Christ?""Yes.""Then you must know a great deal about him. Tell me: What country was he born in?""I donít know.""What was his age when he died?""I donít know.""How many sermons did he preach?""I donít know.""You certainly know very little for a man who claims to be converted to Christ!""You are right. I am ashamed at how little I know about him. But this much I do know: Three years ago I was an alcoholic. I was in debt. My family was falling to pieces. My wife and children would dread my return home each evening. But now I have given up drink; we are out of debt; ours is now a happy home. All this Christ has done for me. This much I know of him!"

Knowing and experiencing are different from knowing about. Even though God is ultimately undefinable and unexplainable, God can be experienced. When you pray, when you worship, focus on God. Image a light like the sun. Let the light of God shine on you. Let God love you, heal you, purify you, transform you, and guide you. And, in response, sing and praise, "You are great, O Lord God; for there is none like you."

ã 1991 Douglas I. Norris