If English had a better neutral pronoun, I would use it instead of “he” for God. As it is, neither pronoun, “he” or “it,” begins to describe who God is or what God is about.
God the Father is such a common image that we have of God—it speaks to the relationship that God wants with us, but it doesn’t begin to describe who God is. Nor does referring to God as Mother complete the picture. God is beyond gender, beyond any image that we have of a king or a god or parent that ever existed in this world. God is not even one person, but three co-gods, if you will, a Trinity. And even then, our small minds cannot take in the three equal persons of God. The “Ultimate Mystery” might be the best name for God, for how could we understand all that God is, all that God has done, all that God is doing in this universe?
God himself expressed it best to Job,
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone—
while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels shouted for joy?” And much more.[Job 38:4-Job 39:30]
God continues his inquiry of Job for all of Chapters 38, 39 and the beginning verse of 40. Who are we to think that we know exactly who God is and what He would say and do in any circumstance? So often I think we sell God way short of his magnificence; we do that for our own purposes: “I am saved and I know!” or “God has to be this way!” or many other purposes we assume for ourselves. We project onto God what we need Him to be. If we’re full of guilt and shame, we project an angry, punitive God. If we love ourselves, we see a God full of love and providence. And everything in between these two poles.
I think God is most known by us in his presence. We know Him best when we are present to Him; He is always inviting us into his presence. See the parables Jesus taught about the seed: the mustard seed [Matt. 13:31-5, Mark 4:30-31], the growing seed[Mark 4:26-9] and the seed and the sower [Matt. 131-23]. The seeds are of life potentially lived in God’s kingdom that He scatters to see if they will be nurtured within us, if we will feed this potential seed and watch it grow in us, if we will allow the seeds to mature in us. If they are nurtured by us, we will have a fully alive relationship with God in love and peace and joy and trust. Or perhaps we ignore them, they fall on crusted soil, unable to find any purchase within us.
Or we might overlook seeds, particularly the mustard seed—it is among the smallest– because of their size and seeming insignificance. We might ignore the voice of the Indwelling Spirit of God because it is so quiet and not powerful, at least as we humans judge things.
The seeds are everywhere—in every rock, tree, insect, person, in everything not just as He designed them to be, but as living reminders of who our Creator is. His seed is present in us, and will grow given the right conditions of openness to God, of perseverance and faithfulness into a large tree which can house birds of the air—like the mustard seed can.
When God created human beings, he created them “in his own image” [Genesis 1:27]. Does that mean that we look like God? I don’t think God is just an extra huge human being. I do think that He gave us some capacity of His, some ability to connect with Him, some of His Spirit, the Indwelling Spirit of God. And that capacity remains dormant in us until we begin to want to know God, to have Him fully in our lives. And as we pay attention to God, that part of him given to us at our creation which lies dormant within us begins to grow and later to lead us.
The more permission we give to this Indwelling Spirit of God, the more He can lead us to become the people he created us to be. And the more we follow His lead, the more we leave behind all the influence of the culture and the world we live in until we are in a full partnership with God. That is the destiny that is implanted in every human being at its conception. It is the potential of every invitation we accept or reject from God. How many will ever realize this union with God is another question, but we all have the built-in capacity.
So the real question for each of us is this: How willing am I to pay attention to all the seeds God is trying to sow in my life? And more, how willing am I to not just listen to God’s Indwelling Spirit, but to actually do what He suggests? This is called aligning our own will with God’s will for us, the one essential commitment that we make to God as Jesus commanded us: to love God with all of our heart, mind, soul and strength, with all of ourselves, with all of our own free will given over to God.
Questions to ponder over the week: Am I willing to seek out the voice of God’s Indwelling Spirit in me? Will I listen to what He asks of me? Will I do whatever he suggests? Will I give my whole self, my whole life, over to God?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who have surrendered our will to God. May we follow Him wherever He leads us. May we see all the blessings and grace that He continually showers on us.
Link to my website for the full blog for this week and the archives of my blog going back to 2011 at bythewaters.net/blog.html.