This is a guest contribution made by Pasquale Mingarelli, a friend of our ministry, professional photographer, and talented creation writer/speaker.
Theologians like to speak of the attributes of God. One of God’s attributes is His transcendence. The Scriptures reveal God’s transcendence as well as His many others attributes, but the Bible actually speaks of another place we can see God’s attributes. Romans 1 proclaims that creation reveals God’s “invisible attributes.” Other Bible passages, such as Psalm 19:1-6, speak of this as well.
But Romans doesn’t really expand on this. Psalm 19 does a bit, but with poetic language. So how then do we experience God’s attributes in creation?
An Unlikely Appearance of Transcendence
A few years ago, I worked as a gas station attendant for a major warehouse club. The sun set in the winter sky as I stood outside waiting to assist anyone in need. Shortly thereafter the sky and clouds above burst into glorious oranges, reds and magentas, and I paused for a while to take it in.
Just below this amazing sky, rush hour commuters whizzed through the busy suburban intersection. I wondered how many noticed the glorious splendor above? I guessed that even fewer people took the time to reflect on it.
The majesty in the sky spoke to my heart. The glorious glow of a fleeting sky spoke of something far greater than itself.
This and countless other sunset skies tug on our hearts and point to something far more magnificent. Something beyond them. Sunsets point us to the “something” that orchestrated all of nature’s glory. That something—or better yet, Someone—appears to be unreachable.
Transcendence in God’s Word
God’s transcendence means that He is outside space and time and that He is eternal. King Solomon stated in 1 Kings 8:27, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” God exists outside of creation, yet He left His fingerprint here and it points to His transcendence.
But our transcendent God did not leave us nor does He live far from us. Isaiah 57:15 “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” So, God lives far above us but remains knowable and close to us.
If we remain humble and watchful before Him, we can see nature point to God’s transcendence. This can happen at a busy intersection. But a greater opportunity to experience this attribute exists in the outdoors.
Sensing Transcendence Through Nature
In 1851, a young doctor by the name of Lafayette Bunnel entered the area now known as Yosemite National Park and wrote this of His experience. “As I looked a peculiar exalted sensation filled my whole being and I found my eyes in tears with emotion. I said with some enthusiasm, ‘I have here seen the power and glory of a Supreme Being. The majesty of his handiwork is in that testimony of the rocks.’”
Nature still today tells the testimony of a Supreme Being. We can encounter the transcendent in nature when we go to places where we find the creation of God overwhelming. Most often we have to stop and let that happen. A drive-by glance may give us a touch of the transcendent, but it does not allow it to sink in. Pausing, waiting, taking it all in and even journaling and reading God’s Word allows us to sense His transcendent Spirit even more.
We might think of the transcendent when we see an eagle in flight. We marvel at something that it is gifted to do that we cannot do nor can enjoy. We see this raptor effortlessly pressed up against a blue sky in its majesty. It takes our breath away. The eternity in our hearts tells us that something greater then the bird must exist. That there is something that created it and gives the eagle life and power.
Getting Out There
When we journey outside we can sense God’s transcendence. But nature reveals many other attributes of God. Take a walk in a national park, a state park or a local park and see how nature reveals God’s many attributes: His transcendence, omniscience, wisdom, omnipotence and incomprehensible glory. As you do, you will draw closer to God.
Where have you sensed God’s transcendence?
Pasquale Mingarelli is a longtime professional photographer and photography instructor. He speaks on creation through the eyes of a photographer and runs The Visual Bible Verse of the Day website. On that website, you can download his free seven-day creation devotional or men’s creation devotional.