Scripture gives us this juxtaposition of getting out our telescopes and viewing the vastness of His Word and yet using the microscope to really investigate the nitty gritty details.
The great constellations of foundational doctrines are so plain for all the world to see. It is like coming across the wide plain and seeing the whole mountain range before you. Viewing those mighty vistas of great truths. You gaze in awe at one huge mountain, then shift your eyes just slightly to see yet another immense peak. The gospel itself is one of these magnificent ones. God’s very nature of being omnipotent and unchanging is another. The great edifice of the Church is the refuge from the world. The blessed hope, the culmination of all earth’s history is yet another of these sweeping doctrines that loom before us.
There is only so much that is observable from a distance, though. While the vistas are breathtaking, they beckon us to climb that mountain. “I want to go up there,” someone says. So the mountaineer gathers his gear and searches for a trail that leads upward. Along the way he breathes in deeply the fresh mountain air. The beauty of each boulder and tree and wild flower urge him to take his time to soak it all in. Some are content to sit back and view the whole range at once, but others want to see it up close. Some want to be in it. This blade of grass or tiny chipmunk has just as much to show us of that great mountain as the bigger picture. And if that climber will steadily and faithfully keep plodding along the trail, he will reach new heights and views that few have ever seen.
We love to look up in the sky and sigh and smile at the multitudes of stars and planets floating in the immense darkness of the universe. Most of us never contemplate what they’re made of or how we are able to even see them. Then that vast array of stars in the sky or the bright moon above the earth calls to the astronaut to find a way to up there. He begins that arduous task of education and preparation. Every detail must be scrutinized down to the last tile in the heat shield and zipper on his suit. The precision with which he must plan and execute the journey cannot be underestimated. But if he is faithful to be so careful with even the smallest detail, he will be rewarded with seeing the brightness of a star in space that few have ever seen.
Watching the ocean from the beach is breathtaking and peaceful. The waves roll on the shore and you might chance to see some great whale or shark beneath the surface. We are comforted by the rhythmic rush of the waves and are in awe. But the deep calls to the oceanographer who longs to chart out and map the great ocean floor. He wants to take its temperature and dive below to view its vast wonders. How many ocean-lovers actually experience what it is like to be just a tiny drop in its mammoth bucket?
The Word of God is like that. Oh yes. The Christian can be completely satisfied with sitting along the freeway and taking grand pictures of the mountain range while never climbing to the peak. A believer can spend his whole life stargazing in his back yard without ever cracking a book about astrophysics. The mighty sea is gorgeous and strong, but how many want to dive into the depths and examine the nooks and crannies where the smallest of creatures live? We love to gaze in awe at the wondrous truths of God’s love and redemption plan, but does it call you to experience it more? I fear that too many believers begin up the steep trails and turn around again because it’s too hard. Too many push away the detail work of getting out the microscope and examining a particular truth up close. They have “better things” to do.
I praise God for the trails that lead up to the mountaintops. What joy there is in gathering all the resources to leave behind the comfortable lawn chairs and reach for the stars. Those who have given their lives to the study of the Word have my utmost respect and admiration. Those wildflowers in the trail up the mountains of God’s holiness are a delight and comfort to me. I love to stop and smell this flower, this tree, this rock and examine it. Theology is like that.
And when you’ve reached the top of that mountain, there is another to climb. When we’ve finally stepped on the moon and returned safely, that stargazer wants to do it again! What other destinations can be reached? What other trails can be hiked? What about this verse? How does the Bible answer that question? How does this truth fit with this account? The questions and the answers draw me deeper into the wide expanse of God’s truth. Lord, let me never lose the hunger for your Word!