Anyone smart enough to tell him what to do?
Anyone who has done him such a huge favor
that God has to ask his advice?
Everything comes from him;
Everything happens through him;
Everything ends up in him.
Always glory! Always praise!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
(Romans 11:34-36 MSG)
Everything comes from him; Everything happens through him; everything ends up in him.
This is one of those verses that is probably best read and understood in the context of what is being communicated in this chapter. The verse before it says: Have you ever come on anything quite like this extravagant generosity of God, this deep, deep wisdom? It’s way over our heads. We’ll never figure it out.
In this chapter of Romans, Paul is talking about the inclusion of the Gentiles into God's family and he is reminding the Gentiles that there will be a day when the Jewish people are regrafted in, in the end - hence the mystery of it all. So the question these verses pose is, "Where can we land in this extravagant generosity of God, his deep, deep wisdom when it comes to salvation?" The answer, "It begins in Him, works through Him and ends in Him."
I've spent years in the church, watching myself and others struggle with the concept of "Have I backslidden? Have I gone far enough, that now I'm 'separated' from God? How do I get back and stay put?" Then one day, I was interviewing one of my Catholic friend's about his life story. I asked him, "So have you ever backslidden?" He looked at me as if I had just spoken a foreign language. So I tried again, "Have you ever walked away from God, given up your faith for a season?" He still couldn't grasp the concept, but politely said, "It just has always been a part of me from since before I could remember." And at that moment, I was both jealous and in awe. His words shook me and I began to realize that I had been trying to "play with God." I thought He was something I could put on the shelf and walk away from. I could somehow separate myself from Him. It brought me to a humble realization that my whole being exists in Him and only arrogance and self-trust had blinded me to this truth. How had I missed it for so many years? As the Scripture above and the ones below state our very existence is dependent upon Him:
The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’
"We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment.
So what I've woken up to and stand in awe at - is that this depth of God's love surrounds me, it's what holds me together and it is a firm and secure place from which I stand:
My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
So to be honest, my prayer for this post is specific. As Paul, so clearly articulated above I pray that you can live full and free lives firmly standing on the foundation of God's love. If like me, you've spent many years unsure of how God feels about you, being tossed to and fro, walking in fear that somehow you've gone too far for His reach, that you will see that you have not. Plumb the depths of His love, test its lengths!