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Exclamation Mark!

Exclamation Mark!

‘Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and His paths beyond tracing out! … To Him be the glory forever! (Romans 11:33,36b)

Romans 11:25-33

In our early married years, before children and before Netflix, my husband and I used to love watching Seinfeld every night on TV. Famous for being a show about nothing, the characters wrestle with everyday issues which we all sometimes think about, but in the end are ultimately pointless. In one episode the female character Elaine has an argument with her boyfriend because he doesn’t use an exclamation mark when he writes down phone message for her on an issue she thinks is really important. She wonders what sort of person he is, if he doesn’t get excited about the things she does. She says he should learn to use them ‘Like the way I’m talking right now, I would put an exclamation mark at the end of all these sentences! On this one! And that one! And on that one!’ He argues that he just takes the messages and expecting him to capture the mood of each caller is frankly ridiculous.

In this passage from Romans, Paul’s mood is captured perfectly, and his passion is hard to miss. Four exclamation marks (or whatever the Greek equivalent was) in five sentences shows that there’s great depth of feeling being conveyed.

His deep wisdom and knowledge of us!

He cannot be explained or told what to do!

His mind is far beyond ours!

Everything comes from him, happens through him and will end up in him!

Unlike all the previous chapters, in which Paul is wrestling through his thoughts about God, here he seems to push pause on that and suddenly break out into poetry/song. All his thinking, eloquent as it is, has its logical conclusion in wonder and worship. Does ours? We try to sum God up with our doctrines, and interpret His intentions through our own denominational lenses, but in the end our God refuses to fit into anyone’s box. He is full of mystery and wonder and all our thinking about Him can only end in exclamation points of praise.

In the face of your awesome mystery, I feel quite small. But I know your heart towards me is for good, and so when I cannot understand you, or your ways, let me trust in your love. Amen.

Sonia Hulme