Stooping to Ask

Years ago, there was a radio show called Twenty Questions. On it, panelists would try to identify some obscure item by asking only twenty questions answerable by "yes" or "no." One of the common queries, early on, was, "Is it bigger than a bread box?" A response to that gave an important piece of information.

When we know the approximate size of something, we can begin to form a picture of it in our mind's eye. But what if the item were to be infinitely large? Did you ever try to envision infinity? The word means: boundless, endless or limitless. That is simple enough to say, but getting our minds around something that big is another matter. And infinite is what God is.

When the Bible speaks of Him being "from everlasting to everlasting" (Ps. 90:2) it expresses the infinitude of his existence. The Scriptures further describe God as the One who "fills heaven and earth," and the One whom even "heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain" (Jer. 23:24; I Kgs. 8:27). In addition, Psalm 147:5 says His understanding is infinite [beyond measure].

God is also said to be "omnipotent" (Rev. 19:6), possessing surpassing power. ("With God nothing shall be impossible," Lk. 1:37.) Psalm 115:3 states that "He does whatever He pleases"--a reference both to infinite power and absolute authority. These verses serve to picture for us the utter transcendency of God. He is completely beyond our understanding and experience. Yet, that is only half of the story.

In 1849, Frederick Faber (1814-1863) published a hymn he entitled "The Eternal Father." Now known by the opening words, the song begins, "My God, how wonderful Thou art, Thy majesty how bright! / How beautiful Thy mercy seat, in depths of burning light! / O how I fear Thee, living God, with deepest, tenderest fears, / And worship Thee with trembling hope, and penitential tears."

In the hymn, the author heaps phrase upon phrase to express the unreachable greatness of the Almighty. He has "endless wisdom, boundless power, and awful purity." He is the "everlasting Lord" who is "by prostrate spirits day and night incessantly adored."

Yet, there is a staggering paradox to be considered. The One whom the Word of God reveals to be so infinitely high as to be unreachable by us mere mortals has Himself acted to open a way for that to happen. Says Faber, "I may love Thee, too, O Lord, / Almighty as Thou art, / For Thou hast stooped to ask of me / The love of my poor heart."

Stooping to ask--what a picture of infinite humility! That One so supremely exalted should stoop to commune with weak and finite creatures such as we are is utterly incredible, but true. "Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly" (Ps. 138:6).

The greatest expression of God's infinite condescension is found in the cross of Calvary. Since all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), none was able to serve as the sinner's substitute and die in our place. To pay the price for our sins, God the Son "humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross" (Phil. 2:8). "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich" (II Cor. 8:9).

How far was it from heaven's throne to the cross? An infinite distance. Just as no human being can comprehend God in His transcendence, no one will ever be able to explain or fully understand how far the Lord stooped to save us. But in the cross, unknowable love becomes knowable. And Christ's sacrifice awakens a response in us. Love responds to love. "We love Him because He first loved us" (I Jn. 4:19). We love the One who stooped, in love, to ask us for our love.