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Seeing the Infinite in Everything

The infinite is in everything, are you looking? What does it mean to “see God?” Can God be seen? Or is God simply felt and interpreted?

“The Prophets Isaiah and Ezekial dined with me, and I asked them how they dared so roundly to assert that God spake to them; and whether they did not think at the time, that they would be misunderstood, & so be the cause of imposition. Isaiah answer’d. ‘I saw no God, nor heard any, in a finite organical perception; but my senses discover’d the infinite in every thing and as I was then perswaded, & remain confirm’d, that the voice of honest indignation is the voice of God, I cared not for consequences but wrote.’”

(William Blake, “A Memorable Fancy” from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, plate 12:6-10, ca. 1789-1790).

According to Blake, Isaiah did not organically or finitely see God, but discovered God through his senses. His senses are acute and aware that honest indignation is the voice of God. Try meditating upon that idea. It changed my life when I did.

Blake lived his life reflecting upon the “infinite in everything.” He believed that behind every physical and organic thing there was a spiritual element. In everyday life God could be seen. Blake opposed Enlightenment philosophy in favor of believing there was something not just equally real, but more real, beyond organic matter.

For Blake, seeing did not mean viewing something with your eyes, it meant seeing with your mind, heart, soul and spirit. It meant discovering the presence of God everywhere.

What would it look like if you began searching for God in all areas of your life? In everything you see, feel and experience? Would your perspective change? Maybe God is not somewhere out there, but right here.

When you ask God to come and meet you in a time of need, maybe your request is really bringing you to Him. Perhaps when the call is answered it does not mean that God has arrived, but that you have arrived. Maybe seeing God means being at a place where you can see the Infinite God at work in everything.

Think about it, and let me know your thoughts on the matter.

Comments

There is a sentiment here that my heart resonates with. God is creator. As such, he has had His hand in making everything. He understands how this world works, He may be the only one. He can often use the ordinary moments to point us towards the Divine. That is the essence of general revelation, that God reveals Himself plainly through the created order. There is a rhythm to life, a pulse that beats behind this world that draws our soul's song towards the Creator.

The problem often, when you spend your days looking for the infinite in the finite, is you tend to over-spiritualize things. Your stare at a falling leaf and come to the conclusion that God is going to send you down a certain road for a season. (Not saying that He couldn't communicate in that fashion, but if He were to, we would only know it because of the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts. Perhaps another discussion for a later time.) What we have to remember is sometimes a falling leaf is simply that, a falling leaf. I've run into this type of deconstruction mindset often when I have shared my writings with others. They see all this inner tension, emotion, and story between the lines, as they read about an emerald, when really all that's there is an emerald. Sometimes a falling leaf is just a falling leaf.

As such, however, God did reveal himself in a much more personal way, through His Son Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus that God chose to reveal His heart for us, His desire for our lives and His plan to restore the relationship that was broken. That is what we talk about when we talk about Special Revelation. God not only created this world, but saw fit to inject Himself into it in order to redeem this world. God stepped into time, so that we might fully know Him and be restored to the relationship that we had broken.

So to say that the infinite is in everything is one thing, but we must recognize that we can only know the Infinite fully through One person. If you want to know what God is like, get to know Jesus. Look at His heart for people, His devotion to the mission God has placed before Him, and the gift that He gave humanity by His blood. It is in coming to know Jesus, you come to know God, even as you are already fully known!

There is truth to the realization He is always there. Often when God seems distant, it is because we have distanced ourselves from Him. As the song writer wrote long ago, "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love." But He was, is, and will always be. It is our eyes that often lose altitude and start to be more preoccupied with the horizontal plane of life, then the vertical. Yet, He is always there, and the Holy Spirit speaks to our soul, drawing our gaze back up to the One who was, the One who is, and the One who is to come.

Chris,

Thank you for your comments and for being willing to so openly share your insightful views.

I agree with you that we can only fully know the Infinite God through the person of Christ Jesus. I am reminded of Paul's words in Romans 1:19-20 (ESV): "For what can be known about God is plain to [humanity], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."

God has intentionally revealed Himself in creation. Creation leads us back to God and His plan for all of humanity. God desires for us to believe in the salvation He brought through Christ and subsequently have new life. Our response to this new life should be to search for God in all aspects of life and help others to do the same.

There is intentionality behind all of creation, even the falling leaf. That is not to say that the intentionality is directed at us (as you rightly pointed out). To believe we are at the center is to continue in egotistical mania, which is contrary to the point of creation.

Nonetheless, the leaves show us something about God and His creation. There is something infinite in the cycle of the world, because God has a hand in it. Leaves fall and die, but they nurture the tree they fall from and the trees around them, providing for future growth. Likewise, God may allow for one path in life to fall and die out, but another will spring forward as a result of it. The symbolism of creation may not always be the intention of it, but that does not make one who interprets it symbolically incorrect. After all, we have to use symbolism, metaphors and similes to describe God.

God speaks in a variety of ways. If we believe He is the Infinite God and are seeking His will, these paths will eventually merge. Perhaps even the divergence and convergence of His speech and revelation shows us something about Him (I am drawing on the work of the theologian Walter Brueggemann here).

Seeing the infinite in everything means seeing God more clearly in all parts of creation and society. In doing so, we should be driven to call on Him and grow closer to Him through His Son.

What about Blake's view that the voice of God is honest indignation? What light does this shed on our discussion?

--John

The passage 2 Cor 5:7 comes to mind (we walk by faith and not by sight). What we see with out eyes can only serve the REAL seeing, which is the seeing of our mind, emotions, heart, intellect, soul, spirit, etc. by faith. Good one, John! What we see with our eyes is pitifully temporary and fleeting. What we see through the eyes of faith is what LASTS.

Christy,

Thanks for commenting. Excellent point about 2 Cor 5:7. The real seeing is what lasts. For those of you who do not know the passage Christy is referring to off hand, here it is in context:

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.

Paul says in 2 Cor 5:7., "we walk by faith, not by sight." Our sight can be misguiding, but what we see beyond this world -- God -- is our guide. We are encouraged by Paul to have courage here on this earth to go on living for Christ, because someday we will no longer have the chance.

I would love to continue our discussion of this passage and other related passages here and in future posts.

--John

We know that God exists because we believe in Him. It is our faith that makes him real. - Marla Ahlgrimm

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The Infinite God is everywhere, are you looking? I am dedicated to finding God in all aspects of life – the Bible, the news, and the arts. Because I find that the most fulfilling journey of all is searching for heaven here on earth.