We love labels. I mean, we really love them. We find safety and comfort in the ability to put a label on something and therefore attribute a list of qualities to it and conclude how it will behave. We interpret our surroundings and our understanding of the world through a never ending, intertwined series of these labels. Today it is rainy. Today it is sunny. That person is fun. That person is peculiar. This is what it looks like to be strong. This is what it looks like to be weak. The list is endless.
But labels are not always useful or productive and sometimes they completely miss the point. For example, when we are sad, we can jump to the conclusion that God is punishing us, isn’t present in what is going on or doesn’t love us. When things are going well in life, we can jump to the conclusion that God is for us and behind the success. When things are scary and outside our comfort zone, we can jump to the conclusion that it cannot be from God as God wouldn’t give us more than we can handle (of course on our own we can do nothing, but with God we can do all things). Categorising ourselves into boxes means we often miss the complexities and delicate beauty of life. Sometimes sadness can come as a result of Godly pruning and bring blessings, sometimes ‘success’ can be completely ungodly and sometimes being pushed out of our comfort zone is exactly where God wants us.
When we allow this labelling to intertwine itself into our spiritual understanding, essentially, we put God in a box. We package God up and decorate the box using our understanding of our human world. We categorise what we perceive as good and match that up against everything we experience spiritually. We assign a set of attributes and qualities to how God behaves or how we need to behave based on what fits this box and idea. At face value that makes sense but when we dig deeper, perhaps not so much.
Labelling God means we often limit what God can do. Deciding that we understand God means we often reduce God to behaviours we can relate to but Ephesians 3:20-21 says this:
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
So much strikes me in this passage, the main emphasis being the word immeasurable. Not only is it more than we can imagine, it is immeasurably more. We cannot even put a label on it. It’s infinite and an understanding of it is unobtainable or as the google definition puts it: too large, extensive, or extreme to measure. Not only is God not constrained by our humanness, God is also not defined or boxed in by it. God operates on a complete other scale. So, when we feel like life is on top of us, when we don’t understand or don’t feel God close, let’s remember that God is not bound by our ideas or our understanding.
God is able to do immeasurably more than we can even ask or imagine.