“Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments, and His paths beyond tracing out!”

// Romans 11:33

Up until this point in Romans, Paul has systematically revealed God’s plan of salvation. His subject matter is broad, from time and eternity to sanctification and glorification. No stone has been left unturned as the letter ascends to its peak – that God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, has orchestrated this great redemptive story for Jew and Gentile alike [Romans 11:32]. But here, in this moment before Paul launches into detailing the practical implication of living the Gospel (Romans 12 and beyond), he falls down before God and worships.

What brought this on?

When we read them, it’s easy to assume that the letters of Scripture simply poured out in one steady stream. It’s unlikely this was actually the case. Almost every writing process involves pauses and reflections, and it’s in understanding this process that we glean insight into where Paul’s word comes from.

Imagine Paul has just finished penning (well, technically, quilling) Romans 1 through 11. Pausing, he sits back and reads his Spirit-inspired words for the first time. He is left speechless, prostrate before the Lord in worship. Paul’s awe comes not just from understanding salvation (within the realm of his human ability), but from the fact that as he turns to review the great depth of this outpouring of God’s love, he sees a lone sinner apprehended on the road to Damascus and radically saved. Paul sees himself. As he reads, his knowledge of the Gospel is paired with his experience, and he is humbled in adoration. It is he that has drowned in the ocean of grace, and so springs forth his praise and wonder.

In these verses, Paul recognizes what we all must take hold of – we are intricately woven into a miracle and a mystery far beyond our comprehension: we were dead, but now we are alive, and for time and eternity we are free to praise our King and bring Him glory. Free to experience Him, not just with our heads but with our hearts, not just in concept but in context. Free to ask for understanding, whilst humbly accepting that we are in way over our heads.

As with Paul, may the miracle and the mystery of salvation bring us to our knees in worship today and, in turn, lead us into right living. And may we never, ever lose our wonder.

// Jolie Egan