Oh!

Words change their meaning depending on the way we say them.

“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33 NIV)

Paul’s exclamation in Romans 11:33 could be an ‘oh’ of despair. There is too much of God to know, so where to begin?

Or an ‘oh’ of frustration. Why can’t he figure out God’s mysterious ways?

Or an ‘oh’ of desperation at the situations he’s found himself in and God’s seeming lack of control. (I’m sure we can relate to that one).

But rather, it’s the same ‘oh’ as a little girl entering Disneyland- wonder, excitement, awe, pure untarnished joy.

Joy inexpressible.

This is not a typo or filler word, not added for punch.

This is the heart cry of someone who has been so impacted to the core of their being by what they have seen of God.

In the previous chapters of Romans Paul talks of grace, the joy of forgiveness, justification (being made right with God), adoption (being part of God’s family), the gifts of the spirit (which are available to all), the mysteries of election (being chosen before the beginning of time by God) and the purposes of God for his people.

And out of that Paul loses himself in praise. Inexpressible in words. “Oh!”.

I ask myself where is my ‘oh’ in response to God? To who he is and what he’s done for me?

Where is the intensity of awe and amazement that Paul expresses that a true knowledge of God ought to evoke?

Has it grown cold?

Become disillusioned?

One of the primary reasons we can get stuck in cycles of sin, negativity, bitterness and disillusionment with God and His church is because we get bored of God. One of the devil’s most effective strategies is to convince us that God and his people are dull. And we often don’t help ourselves.

In our quest to understand him and even seek to control him, we can trivialise God, box him in. We fail to follow the advice in Titus 3:9 to ‘avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, arguments, and quarrels about the law, because these things are pointless and worthless’.

Instead, we stock up on knowledge at the expense of awe.

When we are dazzled by God it’s hard to be duped by sin.

When we’re enthralled with his beauty it’s hard to be enslaved by unrighteousness.

How does your ‘Oh’ sound?

Tired and confused?

Negative and irritated?

Worn down and burnt out?

Or full of wonder, excitement and awe at all God is to us and all Jesus has done for us?

C H Spurgeon wrote, ‘there are no measures which can set forth the immeasurable greatness of Jehovah, who is goodness itself ... notes of exclamation suit us when words of explanation are of no avail. If we cannot measure, we can marvel, and though we may not calculate with accuracy, we can adore with fervency.’

“We don’t know what to do but our eyes are on you” has been a theme as a church through this season. An ‘oh’ of letting go. A deep breathe out that lowers shoulders, relives tension, and gives back control to the only one who is really in control.

A careful carelessness that gets to the end of arguments and explanations and finds its rest and wonder in a long, deep, heartfelt cry:
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways!”

Where we cannot measure him, we can marvel in him.

Emily Williams