My favorite name for God is I AM. It’s so all-encompassing. It took me awhile to get used to all the implications of the name. It not only implies all the things that are part of God’s nature, the things that He is (good, holy, love, etc.); it also tells us that He just is. What does it mean for us that God is? It is actually quite simple: we are not, never have been, and never will be. I am not just conjugating the “being” verbs here; I am saying something that is very important for all of us to understand. HE IS and we are NOT. He is the center of everything, and we are not. He is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and we are not. He is infinite, and we are not. This used to bother my very limited, very human mind. I wanted to know all the things God is; I wanted something I could rationalize, something I could measure.
I recalled a verse I learned when I was very young. (I remembered it because it was set to music, and now whenever I read it, this little tune plays through my head.) It really is a great verse. “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool. Where is the house you will build for me? Where will my resting place be?” (Isaiah 66:1). In other words, “I AM God; what box are you going to try to put me in?” And that’s the thing. As humans, we like to control things and understand things. We have all these things in our life that we put into these little “boxes” – things we make sense of and break down into comprehensible pieces. In our spiritual life, we often try to put God in one of our nicely labeled little boxes. Later, many of us find that the box we have put God in – our understanding of Him – is too small. We, of course, will then apologize and offer God something more suitable – a more God-sized box. Or so we think.
Our problem is not trying to know God better (that is a good thing, by the way); our problem is trying to understand God and rationalize Him (which we can’t do, because we are not God). Even Paul, who had quite an amazing call of God on his life, wrote, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord…?” (Romans 11:33-34). When we chase after God and call upon Him, He promises to tell us “great and unsearchable things [we] do not know” (Jeremiah 33:3). This is what happened to Paul while he was writing Romans. God told Paul some astounding things, and Paul wrote them down. When he was finished, he wrote what is now Romans 11:33-36, which basically says, “God just blew my mind. I’ll never fully understand Him, but I can fully praise Him anyway, because He is glorious beyond all imagining!” This is where the idea that HE IS and we are NOT comes in. We like to control things and put them into boxes in our mind, but our God is an out-of-the-box kind of God; He is uncontainable.
I used to be struck by a feeling of my own insufficiency and smallness when I thought about my being, well, not. Now, however, I take comfort in it. It is not my responsibility to be I AM; that responsibility and honor belongs to God and God alone. I am weak, but He is strong. I am limited, but He is limitless. To borrow a very apt line from Louie Giglio, “I am not, but I know I AM.” I have learned to rest in the fact that my God IS, and that is more than enough for me.