Over the years my perspective of God has changed. Dramatically. It is still inadequate.
When I was young kid, I assumed God was a kind of spiritual Santa. I heard the Bible stories in Sunday School, and the ones that registered with me were mostly miracles. God rescues. God provides. God defends. God protects. God saves. God loves. God is everywhere, sees everything, knows everyone.
As I got a little older and became aware I had shortcomings, I envisioned God to be judgmental – and most likely very disappointed in me. We didn’t talk much because I didn’t want to hear what He might say.
As a teenager I rebelled against authority in general. God wasn’t welcome in my self-indulgent world. I figured if I ignored Him, He might ignore me. I thought little about Him but I went to church because my friends went. Besides, some of the pretty girls from school went to church. God was a secondary thought to a social event.
As a young adult I thought of God as Creator and then – bored with His creation – an uninterested or forgetful grandfatherly type.
When my life began to take turns for the worse, I became an angry and anxious man. I decided God was either (1) oblivious to my pain, or (2) unwilling to relieve it. I reasoned that God was uncaring at best, cruel at worst. Sadly, this phase went on for several years.
When I entered 12-step recovery I began to see God as rescuer of people with serious issues. The spiritual Coast Guard for poor souls drowning in troubles of their own making.
Then I met Jesus.
When I consider my earlier perspectives of God I see a disturbing pattern. I perceived God as if He were like me. My perspectives of God were actually perspectives of myself. No wonder I ran the other direction.
“God made man in His own image, and man returned the favor.” – Blaise Pascal
I thought I could define or describe God using my intellect and life experiences. I would have better luck explaining astrophysics to spider monkeys. On a good day, I comprehend God about as well as a bug comprehends me. I thought I could rely on my mind to determine Who this God is. That experiment failed miserably.
But my heart… that’s a different matter. My heart knows God. When I let my heart go where it wants, my relationship with God is greatly improved. Just between you and me… I don’t do that often enough. Sadness.
“Your mind cannot possibly understand God. Your heart already knows. Minds were designed for carrying out the orders of the heart.” – Emmanuel
When God turned me into a friend, my perspective of God became something significant and beautiful. We were no longer pieces of a God/human math problem.
I think of it this way: if Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and I had a friendship, we would talk. We would know important stuff about the other person. We would hang out. He would probably like my chicken enchiladas. They’re pretty good. But if we don’t have a friendship, I can only guess at his character and attributes and his love for Tex-Mex; and I will likely be wrong about some of that.
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
I cannot describe God with any degree of adequacy, eloquent language, dramatic song or interpretive dance. That’s probably because I tend to use my mind first and my heart much later. When I hear worship songs it is more likely my heart will rise up, and I find greater intimacy with God. It is interesting (to me) that writing this blog also brings intimacy with God. It seems my mind and heart collaborate, coming together with God. It’s pretty awesome.
Without my heart engaging, my mind often fails to get “there” with God; and my words are woefully insufficient. Isaac Wimberly describes this limitation during a performance of “Forever” by Kari Jobe.
You can see Isaac’s proclamation here.
You can see the entire song here.
(Thanks to Neil the Walking Concordance for pointing me to these)
When I get on my knees tonight I want to tell God how much I appreciate that He is Who He is, that the mystery of Him causes awe and wonder in my heart. I want to say I noticed one of His custom-made sunsets and it was breathtaking. I want to tell Him that I was captivated by a photo of space, and how the magnitude of it left me feeling small yet completely safe in His care. I want to worship Him.
If I bring only my mind to the conversation it will be dry, stiff, lifeless. But if I engage my heart, it will be wonderful time spent with my Father.