The Far Side of the Sea

Posted on by WMYFC


“Where can I go from your Spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.  If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”
---Psalm 139:7-10

The glory of the Lord is inescapable; unstoppable; omnipresent; overpowering; unconquerable; mind captivating, all-encompassing.  His glory is the glory of the sun and the moon and the stars, of the wind and the seas.  His glory is unquestionably the most exquisite beauty imaginable.  The Lord IS glory, cannot be anything else BUT glory, for He is perfection yesterday, today, tomorrow.  He rules everywhere, within and without, from the heavens to the earth and beyond, to the innermost chambers of both brain and heart.   He cannot be hidden from, no matter the efforts of those who choose darkness as a shield.  He simply IS, praise be to His name!  He IS.

There is no game to play in assessing a relationship with God: the rules are His.  We are called—all of us are called—to abide by them.  No matter our intellect, no matter how many degrees of distinction we might hold or talents we might possess, it is the Lord who has searched us (Psalm 139:1), and therefore He knows us completely.  He knows our comings and goings.  He knows our thoughts, our moves, our fears and our joys.  He knows, in the face of all those who people our lives from the beginning of our days to the very last one, our deepest yearnings, our desires, our secrets.  Nothing is hidden from His penetrating eye.  We are laid bare before him, and yet, in His surrounding glory, He loves each and every one of us.  Unthinkable, our minds cry, preposterous!  How can it be that, despite our shortcomings, those sins that taunt us with their false bravado and plastic beauty, how can it be that the Creator of the universe, who holds light in His hand as if it were a jewel, LOVES US?  His book proclaims that love, that amazing love, free of cost by the shed blood of the one called Immanuel, His one and only son, Jesus, the Christ.  His Word is there for all to fathom.  And it is staggering!

“You hem me in—behind and before,” cries David, a servant to the Lord, “you have laid your hand upon me.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.”  (Psalm 139:5-6)  We all need to take comfort from the stark reality of God’s presence in our lives.  He stands at one and the same time before, behind, and alongside us.  He hems us in for our protection.  David himself acknowledges the wonder of knowing that he is surrounded, completely surrounded, by his God.  We too should reflect that gratitude.  Rather than collapsing in a heap at the thought of God’s continuing, never-ceasing presence in our lives—in every minute of our lives—we need to take sustenance from the fact that He is indeed there to shield and safe-guard. He is our refuge, our sanctuary, the very essence of love.  That is a thought, a fact, truly “too lofty for [us] to attain.”

The Lord has laid claim to each of us.  How could He not, for it is by His hand that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”?  (Psalm 139:14)  We are all, by the very nature of existing, called His children.  His desire is to lavish upon us His tender mercies and myriad blessings.  His interest in us is as a Parent benevolently watching over His little ones.  He wishes no harm to come to us.  He cares about our choices and our deeds.  We are unable to escape his loving attention, which should produce in us in its purest form a true sense of security.  We belong to Him, and He surrounds us on all sides with His love.  Stray from Him we might, following random paths deceptively attractive but ultimately dangerous; His presence nonetheless paints us in the colors of His love.  Submission to Him, dependence upon Him, gives way to joy and peace in equal measures.  Our hearts take flight at His promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  (Jos. 1:5)

God manifests himself in the gentle spring breeze and the needle-sharp bite of the winter gale; He is the sun upon our upturned faces and the silver moon glow at midnight.  He is the child we tuck into bed at night and the failing parent whose hand we hold as uncertainty rattles at the window.  He is the very air we breathe, the perfumed scent of the open meadow and the roiling white sea.  He wears magnificence as a robe, and His hands are creativity and power.  When He speaks, the stars quiver in the velvet night and the snow-peaked mountains tremble and heave.  His voice is as the harp, the cymbal, the drum, the flute.  He encompasses us with His goodness.  He is inescapable.  He is God Almighty.  He IS!

Revel in His company.  Give thanks for His presence and His promise.  Take comfort in His love.  Call to Him whether in darkness or light, call with confidence:  “Search me, O God, and know my heart…lead me in the way everlasting.”  (Psalm 139:23-24)


As a new West Michigan Youth for CHRIST season begins, my prayer is that each of you who toil in His name, each one whose heart needs claiming for the King of Heaven, each worker in the field, would feel in the most significant and tangible way the surrounding and enveloping presence of our great and glorious Lord.  He is there, just beyond your shoulder, now in front of you, guiding, leading, sometimes carrying, unstoppably loving…

May His blessings glint like gold upon your hand.
Roy Smyth

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