(Preached in trust and great weakness at COSK Portland, on Psalm 139)
The heart of the gospel is God. At the center of our proclamation, at the center of our life together, at the rock-bottom core of each and every one of us lies God. What we have to proclaim is God. Why do we keep getting up every day and striving to live this life in the midst of all our brokenness, all our wounds, all our failures, all our arrogance? There is only one reason. It is only because of God. God is why. We do not have ourselves, our accomplishments, our holiness, our religion, even our bits of faithfulness to proclaim. What we are given to proclaim is God and God alone.
The Psalmist today speaks of God. He speaks of the God who was and is and will always be with us. This is a God who searches us out and knows us. Wherever we are and whatever we are doing, this God finds us out and never lets us go. This song of praise does not know or speak of a distant omnipotent ruler, a divine lawgiver, or a supreme abstract being. This song is concerned with a God who is fundamentally present. This God is right there in the thick of life and uncertainty, sorrows, dangers, and sin. The God of the Gospel surrounds us, touches us, is there with us wherever we are.
Where can I go to escape? That is the Psalmist’s question. From the heights of heaven to the depths of death, there is no escaping this God.
This is the God of the gospel. The God from whom we have no escape. We will not escape God. God has found us, and if we have been found, we have been redeemed; and if redeemed, loved; and if loved, never abandoned. The good news is that there is no escape. That there is no darkness in this world or in the deepest recesses of our own sin and failure that could hide us away from God. None of our darkness could ever be dark enough to hide us away from God. There is no darkness in you, there is no darkness in me that will shield us from God. God cannot be kept out by darkness, even the darkness from which we see no escape and in which we cannot even find a way to hope. This darkness is not dark enough. The world’s darkness is not dark enough. Your darkness is not dark enough. My darkness is not dark enough.
This is the great wonder of the gospel! That our darkness is not dark enough to keep out God. That wherever we attempt to escape to, God is already there waiting for us, already there welcoming us home. Already there watching us, searching us out, encircling us on all sides. When are sinking down into depths we cannot imagine being freed from, God is already there raising us up. When we are sitting under the weight of unknowing, of uncertainty and anxiety, God is already there, speaking peace to us. When we don’t even know how to start, how to get back up from failure after failure, God is already there, bringing resurrection.
This is truly the scandal, truly the glory of the gospel of God, and how difficult indeed it is to fathom! How vast indeed is the sum of God’s glory, wisdom, and inescapable love! That regardless of the world’s darkness, regardless of your darkness, regardless of my darkness, failures, and complete and total inability to ever have what it takes, to ever have a chance of making it through, of ever getting it right, that God really, truly is already there. That there really is no escape. That this is true not just in a grand cosmic and theological sense, that it is not just something that will come true at the end of history or when we die, but that this is really true now, in your case, and in my case, that God really is already here. That God really will never give up on us. That God really will never give on you. that God really will never give up on me. That we really never will find a place to escape from God, that, no matter how much evidence seems so glaringly to refute it, that it is true that God really will have his way with us. That God really will have his way with you. That God really will have his way with me. That this good news is really true, here and now for you and for me.