Much of what can be known of God is wrapped up in two tiny words, three letters: “I Am.” When I was a kid, the fact that God referred to Himself in that way just baffled me. I had no idea what that meant, and really it hasn’t been until recent days that it has come to have any significance to me.
I Am refers not to an obscure fact about God but the essence of His very nature. It isn’t some mystical thing. It encapsulates the reality of God’s existence. No one and no thing caused God to exist; He exists apart from all else as Himself. He alone can claim that truth and all else that exists does so directly as a result of God’s work of creation. The ramifications of this are huge and can cause us to rejoice with great energy when we approach them with the right attitude.
Because God’s being does not depend upon anything and He created everything, we can rest assured He has things well in hand. He owns everything, deserves all praise and glory, and needs nothing. He isn’t jarred by the things which take us by surprise; He doesn’t ever need rest and He doesn’t have to learn new things. He doesn’t make mistakes, sin, or have accidents. Everything He does is intentional and flows from His perfect, holy, righteous, pure, just character.
When we approach this with the right attitude, this takes a lot of pressure off us and gives us the energy to do and be more. The attitude this should bring about is one of awe and praise that God, who didn’t have to take notice of any of us, made it possible to share intimate fellowship with Him. Beyond the fact that we are sinful, which makes us reprehensible in His sight, the very fact that He created human kind in the first place is a wondrous display of God’s kindness toward us. He wasn’t sitting around in space lonely one day and decided to make Adam and Eve. He didn’t need companionship. The very act of creation was not about us but a way to bring glory to the One who deserves glory beyond our comprehension.
That feeling of smallness and insignificance that can come with such a thought doesn’t have to make you shrivel up. It can take us and make us more joyfully what we should be. Often, we look at ourselves as bigger than we ought. We see our sin and limitations as barriers to God’s work. They’re not. No matter how much you have messed things up in your life, you are not big enough to screw up God’s plan. He isn’t caught off guard when you are limited or when you sin; He can still use you in spite of you. And living in the freedom of that realization usually has a counterintuitive impact.
It would seem at first glance that realizing you can’t screw up God’s plan would make you live any way you please. It doesn’t. At least not for those who really begin to grasp the truth of it. Instead, it empowers and energizes a life lived well. If I am not big enough to make a mess of God’s plans, I find myself more willing to take risks for Him. I find myself living less under the weight of guilt and more under the victory of joy because I can understand God’s forgiveness and mercy and grace to a degree that instead of moping around in self-pity, I own up to my sin and move on from it. Just like anything else in life, the more we think about something, the more likely we are to act upon it. If we mope around about our sin, we dwell on the sin, and we are more likely to repeat the behavior. If instead we would just concentrate on God’s love and mercy and forgiveness, especially recognizing that it isn’t anything to do with us and all about His glory, we live a life characterized by those things.
There’s a reason Paul said in Philippians 4:8 (ESV), “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” He knew, as did the Holy Spirit directing him, that what we set our minds on is what we will do. And what is more true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise than our great God, the One who exists apart from anything to do with us, the great I Am?