Our Holy God Is Beyond Names

Our Holy God Is Beyond Names

Our Holy God Is Beyond Names.

“What is your name, that we may honor you? He replied, ‘Why do you ask my name? It is beyond understanding. It is a name of wonder.'” (Judges 13:17-18).

Hallowing God’s name, keeping His name holy, is a dangerous business. We could easily delude ourselves into thinking that we are on a strictly first-name basis with the eternal Godhead! Surely we know that God is an unfathomable mystery to us mere mortals. If we try to remove the mystery hidden within God’s vast existence, our quest for the transcendent Truth of the world disappears. God is a Person with inspired biblical names, to be sure, names that are helpful, descriptive, rich, and they are necessary to begin our understanding of Him. Descriptions understandable to humans, though, cannot fully represent an eternal Creator Spirit. His names in Scripture are merely snapshots of a handful of facets of a diamond larger than the universe.

God is who He is. God will be who He will be…. beyond our comprehension; the Center of creation on whom all things depend; a mystery surpassing the reach of our minds; greater than all reason and knowledge; impossible to define in His divine nature. Anything we are blessed to see of Him are the merest of hints, barely audible echoes. As Job once said, we are merely on the borders of his ways.

So let us lift both hands to honor and revere our ineffable God. On the one hand, it would be disobedient to refrain from keeping His name holy. We are instructed to make sure his name is kept sacred. We are asked to pay close attention to those qualities of His that are within our reach. But on the other hand, it is also true that we need to trust in God’s holy and mysterious namelessness, to surrender to His wonderful transcendent nature. While concentrating on God’s known particulars, we acknowledge and rest in the unknowable Whole of His Being.

Trained wilderness trackers call this wide-angled view the “relaxed vision.” This is the perspective that is able to scan the whole field of vision. Relaxed vision sacrifices sharpened clarity on the details in order to enjoy a breadth of awareness that is able to get the big picture. In God-centered prayer, both focused vision on His revealed Personhood and the relaxed vision of His ultimate Being is vital. Sometimes words are adequate during relaxed vision, but often it seems that we can only echo Job’s words, “I am unworthy. My words have been frivolous, what can I say? I had better lay my hand over my mouth.”  (Job 40:4). Whether with words or without, relaxed vision involves a child-like trust in the Big Picture of God’s existence. Assuming that words might be inadequate to the task, may this prayer nonetheless lead into a faithful union with the nameless God, in whom we live and move and have our being.

A Prayer to the God Who Is Beyond Names

O God, Ground of Being, Ancient of Days. What a glorious and wonderful mystery you are! In your mercy you have revealed  yourself to us in names and places and people, through word and experience and Scripture. Yet there is so much more of your life that is hidden, and I kneel in awe before you. You are marvelous beyond my understanding,  your name is full of unspeakable wonder. I accept that I am only on the outermost borders of your ways, Lord, the mere fringes of your eternal existence. Even so, this is enough for me. My limited glimpse of your power and purity is sufficient to seek you. The faintest whisper of your eternal voice is enough to guide me to your love. And so, Triune God, I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a little child resting in his mother’s arms. Like a weaned child is my soul within me. I know only the smallest fraction of the Reality of your Being, God, but I put my hope in you, from this time forth and forevermore. Amen. 

2 Replies to “Our Holy God Is Beyond Names”

  1. Oh God. Ground of Being. Ancient of Days…….
    I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a little child resting in her mother’s arms….

    That, for me, is the Mystery: God of Angel Armies and little me. Thank you, Steve. You always make me ponder.