Feb 10, 2014

“Imaginary friend in the sky. Delusional. Sad,” commented one of my Facebook readers recently on a day I was writing about surrendering to God. What he wrote caused me to think about how I would describe God. The picture of God he painted is the one I had as a child: an angry God, a huge guy in the sky with a beard and a thunderbolt in his hand. Of course, I was raised in a hell-fire-and-damnation church, so that picture of God just had to be. But I am a long way from holding that picture.

My God is the mind that could imagine and create this huge universe(s?) with all its complexity and interconnectedness, including the immense variety of species. Scientists have identified more than 400,000 species of beetle on earth.[1] Can you imagine the mind that could conceive of that many variations of just one species? Or maybe he created one with the capacity to morph into that many species. Scientists also project that there are many more than 2,000,000 species of animals on earth.[2] I can’t begin to imagine that. Can you? More than anything I think of God as this unfathomable mind with the capacity to create all that is. It’s impossible for my small mind to even begin to wrap itself around this idea.

I am inspired by the cosmologists who say that we understand 4% of the universe—that is all life, all the stars, asteroids, comets, planets, all that we see—and that the rest is dark energy or dark matter. They know by inference that the dark energy or matter exists, but they have no idea what constitutes it. I think it is the same with God—we probably understand 4% of what/who God is from our Bible and from creation and from our experience of his presence. The rest is a mystery.

I think that the ones who are so sure they know who God is speak not from knowledge, but from their own need to quantify God. But I don’t believe that we can put God in a box and expect him to meet our specs.

My God is the one who sent his son to show us how to live, to suffer, to love, who participated in life here on earth just as we do. He now walks along with us as best friend, close companion, and guide.

My God is the one who holds the standards for human behavior, who knows how we function best, how we could get along if we were willing to follow his laws and teachings. He instilled a conscience in each of us that would help us adhere to those standards, if we would pay it heed. He left us a record of his standards called the Bible. He created each one of us individually with an agenda, I believe, for our lives. He wants, even needs, for us to come into the fullness of who we were created to be.

My God is masculine and feminine, but I believe that gender is a very small part of who God is. I think it is wonderful that s/he can be as close to us as the most intimate friend and as far away as the biggest mystery. How in the world/universe can s/he embody both? It’s a mystery to me.

My God is my best friend/my closest confidant/the pilot of my life with me as co-pilot/a constant help and support/the one who loves me warts and all/the one who challenges me beyond how I think about myself/the one who would bring me to the fulfillment of my life’s agenda.

That’s my God. Who is your God? What do you believe? What do you know of God?

4 thoughts on “God

  1. As the comments you received remind me, talking about the Holy One stirs up a lot of wounds and fears and misconceptions in others. (I’ll save the rant about the impact of shallow and erroneous theology for later.)
    You are right about the importance of surrender or yielding, and even that concept is very difficult for others to hear unless they’ve also experienced it.
    What they can see, over times, is the way this experience changes you. If they ask, you can tell them what you feel and how it shapes your actions.
    For me, it is a relationship, and the story already goes on a long time.

      1. Talking about religion scares a lot of people, and in some cases for good reason. I’ve seen a lot of people who were deeply hurt in its name. On top of that, we live in a widely secular age that is skeptical of anything that cannot be quantified, so the very concept that there are things that fall outside the range of concrete things is automatically scary. Including love.
        As you’ve detailed, we often carry images of the Holy One from childhood that can get in the way of direct experience. Yet the kind of religion you describe is based on experience of a Presence that cannot be understood by others unless they’ve directly encountered something similar. Words are simply inadequate. It’s incredibly intimate, amazingly communal within a right circle, and simultaneously infinite. And that’s before we get down to the brass tacks of living with It daily in something we know as relationship.
        How we invite others to share in that without engaging in futile argument is a challenge. So here we are.

  2. Jnana–it is so sad to me how many people have been harmed by religion. I was one of them and it took a long time for me to recover to the extent that I had to form a positive relationship with God. The only good thing to come out of my hell-fire-and-damnation upbringing was being tied to God even negatively drove me to forge a relationship that works for me. And God was there all the way helping me to make it happen.

    Thank you for your comments. Blessings, Pat

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