When You Never Experience Infinite…

Almost three months after I moved to Southern California, I innocently asked a co-worker, who was a SoCal native, where would be the best spot to visit the ocean. “I have a couple days free, and I’ve been wanting to see the ocean. Where should I go?”

“You mean, you’ve never seen the ocean? Like, you don’t mean just not here in L.A., but no ocean anywhere?”

“I’m from Illinois. We don’t have the ocean there.”

“You’ve never seen the ocean? Never?

Whatever, I thought to myself. It’s not like I’ve never seen anything that is memorable. I mean, look, she’s never seen unending acres of corn!

That was on Tuesday.

On Friday, I understood her shock, because on Friday, I saw the ocean.

I’ve loved it ever since.

There’s something about miles and miles and unending miles of water surging forward in row after unending row of powerful waves that recharges my soul.

There’s an infinity to it—not a true infinity, because there is an opposing shore—but it gives the feeling of infinity. And it refocuses my heart on the truly Infinite One who made it.

Thy mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; and thy faithfulness reacheth unto the clouds.

Thy righteousness is like the great mountains; thy judgments are a great deep: O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.

How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.

They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.

For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.

—Psalm 36:5–10

I went to the ocean again yesterday.

I didn’t really feel like going. I was tired and stressed and preoccupied with upcoming deadlines. But I had agreed to go with a friend, and I didn’t want to cancel on her.

When we arrived, it was cold and windy and overcast…

…and infinite.

Even when the water is grey and the sky cloudy, they both stretch out across the horizon…into infinity.

I walked, took pictures (I find it impossible to refrain from taking pictures at the ocean), watched the pelicans and sandpipers, sea gulls and seals. Found an anemone in a tide pool. Let the tide pour in over my bare feet.

As I walked and watched and listened, I could feel my burden lift and my focus shift.

There’s something so good about being in a place so much bigger than yourself—especially when it draws your attention to the creative care and limitless power of God Himself. He is the true Infinite, and every other “infinite” points to Him.

And truly, we’re surrounded by infinite. The ocean isn’t the only place to be arrested by the greatness of God. There’s the starlit sky, the snow-covered plain, the rugged, wooded mountain, the moonlit desert, the dew-soaked leaf. Up, around, down—in large and tiny ways, we’re surrounded by the creative genius of God whose masterpieces reach wider than we can take in and are more detailed than we can appreciate.

But surrounded as we are, sometimes we fail to see the infinite. Sometimes we live like someone who has never seen the ocean.

What happens then? What happens when you don’t really experience infinite?

When you never experience infinite…

  • Your focus shrivels onto a false center. You become preoccupied with yourself, your needs, your projects, your relationships. Sometimes even with your dreams and goals. None of these are wrong, and some are motivating. But they’re too small, too off-center to make a good life focus.
  • Your attention is consumed with the mundane. You trudge forward and perhaps even diligently. But it’s all in a small, narrow way.
  • You look to weak sources for strength. You live like someone who has only heard the ocean in a conch shell and never experienced the real sound of its crashing waves.

When you never experience infinite, your life becomes small, your purpose limited, and your focus short-sighted. Rather than looking to the limitless God who “fainteth not, neither is weary” and of whom “there is no searching of his understanding,” you look to yourself or to the strongest person around you. And here all the while there is a God who “giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength” (Isaiah 40:28–29).

What would it take for you to experience infinite?

You may not be near the ocean. That’s okay.

Look up at the sky. Look out across a river. Look down at a daffodil. And in each of them, marvel at an Infinite God.

But most of all, to truly experience Infinite…

Look into the pages of God’s Word.

For that was my greatest takeaway yesterday at the ocean. Yes, I had been reading God’s Word daily, but my focus had become narrow, my attention misguided, and my hope misplaced. I was missing its revelation of Infinite.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary,

and the young men shall utterly fall:

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength;

they shall mount up with wings as eagles;

they shall run, and not be weary;

and they shall walk, and not faint.

—Isaiah 40:30–31

Go to your “ocean” to experience infinite. But seek the face of God through His Word to experience Infinite.