Transcendent But Present Everywhere

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler
2019 7 May

An image of a single dandelion gone to seed, with the seeds floating out into the blue sky.

President George H.W. Bush was famously attacked during his re-election bid for being out of touch with ordinary people. In 1992, A New York Times reporter filed this story:

“Visiting the exhibition hall of the National Grocers Association convention here, Mr. Bush lingered at the mock-up of a checkout lane. He signed his name on an electronic pad used to detect check forgeries.

“‘If some guy came in and spelled George Bush differently, could you catch it?’ the President asked. ‘Yes,’ he was told, and he shook his head in wonder.

“Then he grabbed a quart of milk, a light bulb and a bag of candy and ran them over an electronic scanner. The look of wonder flickered across his face again as he saw the item and price registered on the cash register screen.

“‘This is for checking out?’ asked Mr. Bush. ‘I just took a tour through the exhibits here,’ he told the grocers later. ‘Amazed by some of the technology.’”1

Though the reporter hadn’t been present at the event and the article was later debunked, journalists rushed to portray Bush as a President who was hopelessly out of touch with the concerns of ordinary people. It wasn’t hard to believe since most political bigwigs don’t drive their own cars, fly coach, attend Little League games, or do the grocery shopping, unless, of course, they’re on the campaign trail.

Is the transcendent God like some out-of- touch politician who can’t see the trees for the forest? Is he looking down at the world from 30,000 feet, aware of the big picture but clueless about the little picture—the place most of us live? How can God both transcend and be present within the world he has made?

Consider this. Though God is transcendent, existing beyond the material world, he is also infinite. That means he is a God to whom physical boundaries mean nothing. Though it’s impossible to limit God to the confines of the universe, neither can you exclude him from it. He is present everywhere.

The Bible assures us that our big God is not too big to care about the smallest details of our lives. Perhaps it is true to say that the only place in the wide world from which God can be excluded is within the confines of our hearts. He waits for us to invite him in. Let’s do that today as we rejoice and proclaim that to him alone belongs greatness, power, glory, majesty, and victory, Amen.

1. Andrew Rosenthal, “Bush Encounters the Supermarket, Amazed,” The New York Times. February 5, 1992,  A1.