Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Understanding God

Sometimes I read someone else's musings and feel that they must have read my mind.  There are others out there who think and feel the same way I do.  Ann Voskamp referred to Big Mama's blog and to the following post in particular.  Read it and see if you can identify with the writer's angst.  I did.

Big Mama writes:

Oh if you only knew the irony of the post I’m about to write. It’s thick. Especially since I tend to stick to writing about reality television and other meaningless nonsense. Like my love for bright yellow jackets on sale for $23.99. I just tend to write about the funny, lighthearted things because I am generally a funny, lighthearted person.

But then I spent a large portion of the day reading various things like books and articles and blog posts because P and Caroline went down to the ranch to set some things on fire. And somewhere in the course of the afternoon, I felt a different kind of fire start in me.

(My deepest apologies to those who just stumbled here in search of a cute jacket.)

I am sick and tired of watching Christians eat their own. And what I mean by that is all the attacking and the back-biting and the endless arguments over what Jesus said and how he said it and who is right and who is wrong. I will never claim to be a great theologian, largely because I am not a great theologian, but I believe in a God who loves mercy and grace. I believe in a God that tells us that without love we are just clanging cymbals.

And I believe when we spend so much time dissecting the Word of God merely to argue with others over who is the most right, it makes God sad. I think it makes Him shake His holy head and wonder how we are missing the entire point of Christianity while we eat lunch and go to work and shop the sales at Gap with people all around us who don’t know Him. But instead of showing them who He is, they see us fight and argue and judge each other instead of extending grace and understanding and mercy.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we are called to examine God’s word and to know it. We are called to be able to give an answer for what we believe and why we believe it. But when we use that knowledge to belittle others or condemn them? OH NO MA’AM.

“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But if anyone does not have them, he is nearsighted and blind, and has forgotten that he has been cleansed from his past sins.” 2 Peter 1:5-9

I think Satan (oh yes, I just dropped in a Satan like I’m the church lady) loves when we get so distracted by all these small debates that cause us to become so inwardly focused that we forget about the world around us that is hurting, hopeless and lost. A world that is desperate for something that looks different. Something that offers a hope and a future that’s different from the wreckage of the past and present.

I have lived a large chunk of my thirty-nine years in rebellion against God. I’ve ignored His word, run from His love, and tried my best to screw up my life with a lot of wrong decisions. I’ve also spent many years devoted to Him to the point of becoming legalistic and judgmental and losing the joy of my salvation because I’ve been so worried about the rules. I’ve looked at a lot of specks in other people’s eyes while ignoring the big old plank in my own.

But somewhere over the last several years, I’ve begun to realize that my small mind can’t comprehend the love and mercy of God. He is not a one size fits all Creator. He is the God of the Universe and He has made us all uniquely different and equipped each of us with gifts and abilities to fulfill plans He has for us. Why would we assume that our walks with Him or even our understanding of Him would look the same? As it says in Isaiah 40:13 “Who has understood the mind of the Lord, or instructed him as his counselor?”

My walk with Christ is as uniquely mine as my personality. I’ve spent a lot of time believing I should be more like this Bible teacher or more emotional like this person or hear from God in a certain way or adopt a child from Africa or sell all my earthly possessions, but He’s made me to be me. And He’s made you to be you. If God was only after one type of relationship with one type of person, it probably would have been a whole lot easier for Him to just create one person and be done with it. I speak from experience. I only have one child and it’s easy to know her because she’s the only one I have.

But I know from watching my friends with multiple children that they have unique relationships with each of those kids based on their personalities and their gifts. They talk to their kids differently and show them how they love them in ways that speak to that child. I believe God is the same way.

And I believe it’s ignorant when we start to think that our understanding of Him is the only way and there’s no room for growth. I don’t believe any of us will get to heaven and receive a trophy or a plaque with “YOU WERE THE MOST RIGHT” engraved on it. Throughout my life, He has been my Redeemer, Protector, Provision, Salvation, Lover, and Friend. He has caused conviction where I am in the wrong and He has loved me lavishly and extravagantly where I am just His child in need of grace and mercy.

I am not a Biblical scholar. I can’t tell you all the Greek and Hebrew translations in the Bible. In fact, I just bought a fancy Bible a few weeks ago with the Greek and Hebrew translations and I’m sure it will be great as soon as I learn how to use the thing. I’ll keep you posted.

But here’s what I do know. I do not want to serve a God who fits into my limited understanding. I don’t want to serve a God who can be completely explained in the human realm. I want a God that is so much bigger than me that I’ll spend the rest of my life trying to know Him more, love Him more, and serve Him better.

I believe in a God that removes my sins as far as the east is from the west because that’s a distance my mind can’t comprehend. I’m doing Beth Moore’s study of Revelation and she talks about when John has his vision and sees the throne room of God. He describes so many incredible, unbelievable things, but he never describes God. Most likely because God defies description.

To me, that’s the God who is worth my devotion. That’s a God I want to share with a lost world instead of reducing him to what my limited human perspective can understand.

It makes me think of a passage I read to Caroline last night in Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis where Lucy sees Aslan after a long time apart and exclaims, “Aslan! You’re bigger.”

“That is because you are older, little one, ” answered he.

“Not because you are?”

“I am not. But every year you grow you will find me bigger.”

I pray that every year I grow I will find Him bigger.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” I Corinthians 13: 1-3

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