Earlier this week one of my students shared with me that she learned that a friend committed suicide. She was really hurt and at the same time very angry. She said that her friend had so much potential and now he is gone. She also felt that he didn’t work hard enough to survive and wondered why he did not reach out to her for help. In her heart, she felt God will truly punish the friend because, in her words, ‘he was young, he had a lot of potential and he didn’t fight hard enough to survive.’ I shared with her that God may be disappointed in her friend, but God would not punish the friend. That God, better than us, understood his pain. She seemed relieved and said “I just wished my friend was still with us.”
After that conversation, I began to reflect how each of us has a different perspective on God. What is your image of God? Or very simply, how do you see God?
As a child my God could do everything. He was omnipresent, omnipotent, all knowing, caring and intervened in people’s lives when they called upon him. Nevertheless, he was a God to be feared. He was the hell and damnation God. Although I knew I needed and wanted God, I was afraid of this God and feared too that I would be damned to hell.
Later in life, God became an all loving God; still Omni-everything and still the God who intervenes in the lives of those who seek him out. I don’t know about you, but my image of God is still evolving.
He’s definitely not the God of my youth or the God of my young adulthood; he sometimes seems to be the God of indifference, a God of distance, a God who rarely intervenes in the affairs of humankind. This is a God I cannot accept and I doubt is real. But like you, I’m still wrestling with who God is.
Mark Batterson in his book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (2006) said that “how you think about God will determine who you become. You aren’t just the byproduct of “nature and nurture.” You are a byproduct of your God-picture. And that internal picture of God determines how you see everything else” (p.28).
Batterson goes on to say that “our biggest problems can be traced back to an inadequate understanding of who God is. Our problems seem really big because our God seems really small. In fact, we reduce God to the size of our biggest problem” (p.28). I don’t know about you, but I need a God that’s bigger than any problems. I need a God who not only can tackle my problems, but the world’s problems. Batterson continues and believes that God has no dimensional units and that our belief or thoughts of God will determine who we will become. Wow!
Wow is right. I need a God who is greater than all this world’s imagination; especially as it relates to who God is and what God can and will do. I need a God that is as big as this world; still has concerns and abiding love for me and not only showed loved for me on a CROSS centuries ago, but a God who daily reminds me of his love and protection.
I need that infinite God; the God of love and mystery and yes, a God that I or no one else can define or put in a box. I need a God that loves “even me.” I need a big God; the same God that told Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’’….”As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). To learn more about God’s awesomeness read Job, chapters 38 through 41. That’s a big God and no, he is not in a box.
How do you see God? How big is your God? My image of God is evolving, but each day I love this God who refuses to be defined. I hope you too will envision a God that is unlimited and therefore undefinable and that my friend will make all the difference in your world.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 NIV).
“You are blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (The Message, Matthew 5:3).
God, I am at the end of my rope right now. In fact, I am losing my grip. I wouldn’t want to wish this _____________ (you name it) on anyone. But you said that I am blessed.
How can that be? Explain that to me? It is like I am in an endless pit. Teach me the secret of more of you. I want that reality for my life.
But then it hits me. If I put my focus on you instead of my problems I will feel blessed; blessed in such a way that I want to help others. One writer said that when we allow God to translate our problems into a ministry that our pain becomes someone else’s gain.*
We learned that when we are poor in spirit, we have more of God; and, isn’t that what we pray for anyway.
So as I pray daily, I remain hopeful, even as the grip gets tighter, in the words found in Ecclesiastes 7:8:
The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
*Batterson, M. (2006). In a pit with a lion on a snowy day.Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books
God, as I speak let me talk about your willingness to “go ahead” and pave the way for me; so my pain, sorrows, and injustice that I suffer are bearable.
For you oh Lord, have already taken the major brunt for me; your spirit prays for me when I know not what to pray—“making prayer out of my worthless sighs, my aching groans” (Roman, 8:26, The Message).
God as I speak…let me be genuine in my praise for you. Amen
This is written for all wise servant leaders and those who ache to do God’s will
“Here am I,” said Mary;
“I am the Lord’s servant; as you have spoken, so be it.” Luke 1:38 (NEB)
I surrender Lord. My plans are your plans. My wants are your wants.
Though I have doubts and fear; I trust you will show me the way. But count on me Lord to seek clarifications as I pray daily to be “at-one-ment” with you.
I need not fear for my sustenance; my needs are to fulfill the needs of those who call out in the “wilderness.”
I surrender Lord. My plans are your plans. My wants are your wants. All I ask Lord is that you offer help along the way.
I don’t know what your lot in life has been or will be in the future, but here’s a prayerful thought that I offer you
Photograph and graphic design by Jim Whalen
I had a pity party yesterday. I felt sorry for myself. Nothing is going as planned. Why should I an innocent, suffer? What is this all about? God, are you teaching me to be patient? Is there’s something better, as we like to say to cheer ourselves, or is this just life; and bad things happen to good people.
I hope not. I have seen bad things happen to good people. It is not pretty and it is not fair. My friends and my colleagues feel my pain too. But soon they will forget. They have to forget, and life for them will go on as before. But the ones that suffer—suffer still.
Richard H. Schmidt writes: “When we let our happiness depend on some future event, often something unlikely to happen and perhaps something that wouldn’t be best for us anyway, our waiting becomes tense and anxious. The key to waiting contentedly is to focus upon God.”* God, I am definitely focused on you-‘yeah right!’
Max Lucado writes: “(God) said no to good things so (God) could say yes to the right thing….”** I am wondering what that right thing is for me? You have been there too, huh.
God, I had a pity party yesterday and I want to have another one today. But you know what; I will fight this ‘poor me’ syndrome. I am better than this. I have choices. I choose to embrace the positive and even find good in this bad. This is what I know:
- God alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken. Psalm 62:2.
- For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11.
So God, I am reminded that I am on a journey. This wonderful journey; a journey that requires me to be attuned to every facet of my life; an opportunity to yearn and learn, to dream the impossible; an opportunity to re-think my direction, but more than anything; to trust you, to put my faith into action, to live out Psalm 23:1: “you are my shepherd and I have everything I need.”
Who needs a pity party?
*Richard H. Schmidt. Praises Prayers & Curses Conversations with the Psalms. 2005, p. 123.
**Max Lucado. Cure for the Common Life. 2005, p. 106.