A Long Time Ago In A Galaxy Far, Far Away?
The film, Star Wars, debuted in 1977. It became a pop culture sensation as subsequent films were made, to further expand the story of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. Each film begins with the words “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away” scrolling up the theater screen.
Many Christians think of God as far, far away. They see Him as “out there.” This sense of God’s remoteness is heightened by the words used when speaking about God. From the formerly popular “The Man Upstairs” to the newly popular “God, we ask you to show up and show off” we subtly reinforce the idea that God is somewhere “else” from whence we must summon Him. Is this accurate? Let’s look at what the Bible has to say.
Where is God?
From the Garden of Eden, man has tried to control his physical position in relation to God (Genesis 3:8). But it’s not possible to go unnoticed by God, because He is present everywhere. This quality of “omnipresence” is difficult for us to grasp because we are limited by time and space. But God is a spirit being. Nothing takes place apart from His presence, therefore He is aware of everything and everyone.
Psalm 139 beautifully expresses the nearness of God’s presence. Verse five says: “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.” Picture a toddler taking his first wobbly steps, arms uplifted and inter-linked with his Daddy’s, hemmed in on either side by his Father’s sheltering presence. Just as the child is protected in his forward progress, so God positions Himself to buffer our instability. God is “up close and personal” present!
The Psalmist goes on to ask, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend into heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, you are there; if I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
May I ask again? Where is God?
Even His Name Testifies of His Nearness
God is so vast and beyond our ability to fathom, that He gives Himself names to express aspects of His character. One of these names even tells us where to find Him: “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is God with us” (Matthew 1:23). God is with us!
But What If God Seems Far Away?
There are times when our feelings and circumstances seem to contradict what the Bible says. It is essential that in such periods we cling to and dwell on the truth of the Word. So what does the Bible say about God’s nearness to us? Here are several passages that have sustained me through difficulty:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you (Isaiah 43:2).
…for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down, relax My hold on you! [Assuredly not!] (Hebrews 13:5b AMP).
Note: The three occurrences of “[I will] not” above are not a typo. The translators of the Amplified Bible chose to express the degree of the Bible’s assurance that God will never let us down by using a triple negative. God is absolutely emphatic that He is intimately intertwined with us.
And the LORD, he [it is] that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed (Deuteronomy 31:8).
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4).
Where is God?
God is so vast – so beyond our ability to conceptualize – that we can make the mistake of placing Him out there – apart from us. But he is here. He is there. He is everywhere and available to us in real time. There is no summoning the Creator of the Universe, for we are the ones who have been placed. And that place is within His protective and loving care. No, the Creator of the Galaxies, the Maker of Space and Time is not far, far away. He is right where you are!