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What is Your Image of God?

June 15, 2012 11 comments

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.

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The Fairytale God

May 11, 2012 1 comment
Thomas Nast's most famous drawing, "Merry...

Thomas Nast’s most famous drawing, “Merry Old Santa Claus”, from the January 1, 1881 edition of Harper’s Weekly. Thomas Nast immortalized Santa Claus’ current look with an initial illustration in an 1863 issue of Harper’s Weekly, as part of a large illustration titled “A Christmas Furlough” in which Nast set aside his regular news and political coverage to do a Santa Claus drawing. The popularity of that image prompted him to create another illustration in 1881. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where is the fairytale God; the one that was taught to us in Sunday school? The one we depended upon in our childhood, adolescence and young adult lives.

I so wished the fairytale God was real. I so wished I could experience the miracles, found in the Holy Scriptures, that God showered on others and was told could happen to me if I just believed.

But I am older now and I have learned there’s no fairytale God; like I learned there’s no Santa Claus. Such are the cruel fantasies that adults inflict on children to keep them well-behaved and yes, to give hope.

Oh, I still believe in God. I just don’t believe in the Santa Claus God; you know the one that fulfills all my requests and prayers. If I am really honest, Santa did not fulfill all wishes either. Yes, I still believe in God, but not the one that grants my every wish.

I believe in a God that allows me to experience life, with all its pleasure and pain. I believe in a God that cries when I cry. I believe in a God that is hoping and cheering for me as I take every step in this life. I believe in a God that can’t wait to receive me in His arms when I am ready to “come home.” I believe in God, a God who fights along my side to defeat evil, one day at a time.

I believe like the Apostle Paul that we see things imperfectly as in a poor mirror, but in time we will see everything with perfect clarity. “All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me now” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

Yes, some will say that I still believe in a fairytale God, but that’s okay because this God keeps me going when times get tough. I believe in a God who promises to be with me to the end of my time and that’s all the miracle I need.

Our Paradox, Not God’s

September 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God” (NIV).

As we, the faithful contemplate your silence; we can come dangerously close to questioning your existence. Where are the angels, do we really have a Heavenly Parent? Who is this Jesus, “the supposed Son” and oh yes, our comforter, the Holy Spirit? It is easier, but not comforting, to believe the “foolish ones;” who say when we die we simply cease to exist or disappear into a great, dark abyss.

How else can we explain the killings and assaults on human lives? How else can we explain the hatred, the injustice and discrimination of the vulnerable or those who are different?

How else can we explain the loss of lives and properties by tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other storms that this evil world creates; how else can we explain 9/11 and the purposeful goal of one group to annihilate another. Our history, the world’s history bears this out.

What loving God would allow such destruction, such evil?

O, but then, a gentle spirit reminds us of the great mystery; the mystery of the Cross and the desires of our hearts to fight for justice, to right the wrongs and to help the helpless and the loss.

What causes us to praise YOU in the midst of these injustices; even when they are at our front doors? O God, we are “as the deer that desire cold fresh water, our soul pants for you O God. Our soul thirsts for YOU, the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2).

Some say that you thirst too; you thirst to have a relationship with us. Some believe that you too cry along with us as evil tramples upon us. So, why the silence; aren’t you the omnipotent one? So what’s the answer Lord? Is life meant to be a struggle always?

So as I anxiously waited and prayed, with multitude of doubts, God gave me a glimpse of heaven; yes, I had a peek. I had a peek of heaven, not visually, but within my soul. O what an adventure. It is hard to put into words, but my soul was fueled with joy and thanksgiving. It was a wonderful gift; a miniscule sample of things to come.

So in this silence God strengthened my faith and I realized that things happen in this world that is unexplainable. So will my lot in life improve because of this, not really? I am no different from anyone else who has suffered and will suffer. My job is, to partner with God, to the best my understanding and abilities, to make heaven on earth for others.

God, I Need You to Be God Today

September 10, 2010 1 comment

But now, O Israel, the LORD who created you says: “Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. 2 When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown! When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. 3 For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;” Isaiah 43:1-3.

God, I need you to be God today. I need you to be the God who spoke to Isaiah. I need you to be the God who will be with me on every winding road and detour in my life. I need you to be God during my difficult times, during my scary times, and during the times when my faith is weak. I need you to be God when I want to throw the towel in and call it quits.

God, I need you to be God today. I need you to be the God of love. Be the God who performs miracles, the God that heals. Hear my prayers oh Lord, be the compassionate God that wants the best for me.

God, I need you to be God today; the God I want to follow; the God I want to share with others; the one that the world so desperately needs.

I need a God that knows my heart, my soul, my every weakness, and despites my faults will love me anyway.

God we need you to be God today; the one that not only hears our prayers, but will answer our prayers; the one that brings hope to a new generation of believers and continue to comforts His current disciples.

God, we need you to be the God who spoke to Isaiah. The one that helps us weather our storms; the God whose footprints are in the sands; the God we can always count on.

God, I personally need you today. I need the God who promised to be with me until the end of my time. God, I need you today; will you be my Savior, my Isaiah God today?

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This reflection is dedicated to all those who love God, but at the same time are deeply hurt and are hurting from a “silent God.” We would love to hear how God has spoken to you through this Isaish scripture.
 
Previously posted on Upward Edge (www.upwardedge.com) on October 6, 2009

Who Do You Say That I Am

July 16, 2010 4 comments

God, I don’t know who you are. You certainly are not the God of my youth. You are not the God of “what I expected.” Here’s what I do know. You are a God of love, full of grace; a God who expects people to do your calling, your bidding.

I appreciate your mystery. I respect your awesomeness. Your silence intrigues and complexes me. I want more, I need more. We want more; we need more of you so we can help others.

Therefore, I pray today that we strive to have more than just a conscious level of who you are. I pray that we strive to live at a deeper level whereby we will have a joyful, love affair with you. Where we are obedient to your calling and are willing to do more than we want to do because we understand, like Jesus, what a meaningful relationship with you is about.

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  1. Is God the same person to you today as God was 5, 10 or 20 years ago? If different, what made that difference and how is that difference evident in you life?
  2. Who do you say God is?

My Sustenance

God is water, God is the immovable mountain.   He is the almighty; my stronghold; my sustenance.

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