For My counsels are not as your counsels, neither are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “But as the heaven is distant from the earth, so are My ways distant from your ways, and your thoughts from My thoughts. For as rain shall come down, or snow, from heaven, and shall not return thither until it waters the earth, bring forth and sprout, and give seed to the sower, and bread for food, so shall My word be. Whatever shall proceed out of My mouth, shall not return to me empty until it has accomplished all that I have purposed; and I will set aright your ways, and effect My commandments. (Isaiah 55:8-11)
God is clear that God does not think or reason like a human – the difference between human logic or actions and divine ones, in God’s measurement, is the distance between heaven and earth, an irrational number for sure. This happens to be the same distance which measures God’s love: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him…” (Psalm 103:11). Fascinating that the biblical imagery used to describe the greatness of God’s love is distance. What distances us from God is not so much disbelief but a lack of love. So when we feel separated from God or abandoned by God or that God is not present in our lives, what we need to realize is what we are experiencing is the difference between God’s love and our own love (or lack thereof). Too often we only think that what separates us from God is our sins and the cure is pious repentance. What we need to look for is God’s love in order to kindle that same love in our hearts and lives. The reality is even sin can’t separate us from God’s love. As St Paul puts it: “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
God is love and God’s ways are love—we have a long way to go before our thinking and actions are pure love. It should humble us humans, especially when we decide our decisions and actions are the ones which God would do. But, we don’t like to have it pointed out to us that our ways are not his ways because our ways are often absent of God’s love. Abraham Lincoln once said:
“Men are not flattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. … To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world.” (Ronald White, THE ELOQUENT PRESIDENT, p 303)
We can (and should) strive to conform our will, our thinking, our ways to the divine will. We also have to have the humility to realize that our ways still are not the equivalent of God’s ways. Our thinking and our choices are muddled by our passions, by sins and temptations, foibles, failures, pride, hubris and a host of other human limitations. When we believe in God, we must always be humble enough to admit that we might be wrong in our actions and we might be misusing our understanding of God. Nations do this as well as individuals because nations too rely on human logic and thinking. For example, Americans like to claim they have “God-given rights” but many of these rights come from the human reasoning of the European Enlightenment, like the Constitution or Bill of Rights, but not from God, whose ways are still as different and distant from ours as heaven is from earth.