Limitless capacity

“What are you like, Lord?” I asked him again, one night recently. I seem to ask that over and over. Who are you? What are you like? What do you like?

Those kinds of questions come to mind frequently, and sometimes I actually ask him, and he actually answers.

“Capacity. Do you know what that is?” he asked me. “Yes, I think so,” I said.

“Are you sure?” Well, of course then I wasn’t sure, so of course I looked it up. There are layers of meaning, I soon discovered. One refers to material facts, such as the number of gallons my car gas tank can hold. Another is psychological or mental ability, such as the potential for learning, understanding and retaining information. (Human brains, computers.) Still others are in the realm of physics, nuclear, space / time phenomena, metaphysical concepts. I had no idea there were so many nuances of definitions in that one little word.

“So, does that have to do with what you’re like, then?” I asked.

“Think limitless capacity,” he said, and began to show me some examples.

As images rolled through my mind’s eye, I realized that phrase doesn’t just describe what he is like, it describes what he does; what he does for his most treasured creation, man. Beginning before the beginning, God conceived his own idea, design, and construction of human beings and their habitat, the universe (or perhaps multi-verse).

Ideas. Inventions. Discoveries. Language. Wisdom. Understanding. Creations. Every branch of arts or science, every “ah ha” moment, every success in every field, at the moment it occurred depended on the capacity of the person involved to engender an idea, grasp a concept, understand the possibilities, calculate the logistics, remember the details, record the results, meditate on the whys and wherefores of failure.

And if they didn’t have the mental or emotional or educational capacity to get the thing done, the thing built, the thing accomplished, yet? Then the capacity needed was increased, enhanced and developed in that person or other person, even other generations of persons.

How long might it take to invent an airplane? How many ideas? How many principles? How many hours, years, attempts? (da Vinci’s ornithopter, above image.)

How long might it take to develop the math to calculate the distance of a light year, in miles? Or the usefulness of bread mold? To be curious enough to see if some things in dirt and grime and rot aren’t just dirty? (Think antibiotics.)

Or to realize that the sun doesn’t revolve around the earth? That the earth is not the only planet in our solar system? That our solar system isn’t the only one in our galaxy? That our galaxy isn’t the only one in our universe?

What gave space scientists the outrageous idea that they could land a spacecraft – the Rosetta spaceship’s Philae lander – on a comet?! And the technological know-how to do just that? (Also see https://bettecox.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/rosetta-and-the-comet/)

Who first suggested that an atom isn’t the smallest component of matter? Or that matter and energy are both forms of light? That concept is still being explored.

How to create a microscope, or a telescope, or a space camera?

Over the thousands of years of human history, every time the limit of material, creative, or inventive capacity was reached, stalemate happened. But it didn’t last, did it?

It doesn’t last, because the Creator, the God of limitless capacity, simply shares some of his own capacity with his most treasured creation. Ideas “happen.” Everything that has ever been discovered or invented came from him in the first place, dropped into a brain somewhere.

I meditated on all that for a few minutes, and then I heard his voice add this:

“When one of my people can’t find a solution to a problem, if they seek my help they will find it. If they need mercy, direction, insight, revelation knowledge – if they need more information, more wisdom, more ideas, more ability to calculate, more assistance, more understanding, more favor from other people, more patience, more strength, more stamina, more faith – they will find their capacity increasing in those areas.”

“Human capacity is limited. My capacity is limitless.”

I meditated some more. “So – what’s the goal of all this?” I asked him, not for the first time. And not for the first time, He said, “The universe is a big place, and eternity is a long time.”

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Unlimited potential, unlimited capacity

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“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21 NIV)

“In me… in you… in us…” Really? In – from the Greek preposition “en,” meaning inside the interior of something. Not a complicated, mysterious word at all. This was Jesus’ prayer, just before being killed.

I’m a life-long fan of murder mysteries. Hercule Poirot. Sherlock Holmes. Nero Wolfe. When trying to figure out “who dunnit,” the wiley detective always asks, Who benefits?

Thinking back to the events leading up to Easter, the cruelty, the overwhelming horror and anger and grief of the helpless disciples as their leader was assassinated, an odd question floated into my mind. Cui bono? Who benefits?

Well, I knew I would. I would benefit from not having to go to hell for my sins. But what was in it for Jesus? What could Jesus do after he was resurrected from the dead that he couldn’t do beforehand? What was in it for him?

So many strange things, supernatural things, miraculous things he had done before he died. Commanded the winds and waves. Walked on water. Multiplied bread and fish. Created wine out of water. Vanished into thin air. Completely disguised his appearance. Raised dead people back to life. Healed incurable diseases. Took authority over invisible evil spirits. Conversed with thousands-of-years-old patriarchs. Flattened Roman soldiers with two words, “I am.”

All those amazing things Jesus did as an unchanged human being. Things he told the disciples they could also do, and trained them how to do.

And toward the end he explained – several times in fact – what was coming next. Arrest. Trial. Guilty verdict. Death penalty. Roman execution. Resurrection. To give you eternal life, if you believe in me. This is necessary. This will benefit you.

But how did he, Jesus, benefit, I wondered? What could he do for himself after he came back to life, that he couldn’t do before he died?

Inhabit other human beings. Know them inside out. Enable them to know God. Experience God. Empower them to obey God.

Beforehand, he was limited to one place; limited to paying attention to what was going on in the immediate vicinity.

He had potential like no other human being at that time. He knew who he was, he knew God’s plan from beginning to end, and knew the end game would be successful. But it was limited potential. Limited capacity. One man. One “seed.”

One seed of corn can produce one stalk. One stalk can produce several ears. One ear can produce many seeds. Several ears can produce a multitude of seeds. Fields full of stalks. Unlimited potential. Unlimited capacity. (See John 12:24)

Jesus’s prayer answered. John 17:21 fulfilled.