When God Calls Your Name

P1000158.blessedThen I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us? And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isaiah 6:8).

God it is evident that it is time to grow. God help me to see the cues and to use every opportunity to seek you out, to serve you and to demonstrate your love to others.

God help me to be always faithful; even during dark times. Give me the faith of Paul; the courage of David and the resiliency of Job.

God I pray that  through your divine spirit,  I can truly motivate with my words, model through my deeds and heal with my touch. I pray that I will live the truth and be a good steward of your trust in me. Amen

Has God called your name? What has God impressed upon your heart to do?

What is Your Image of God?

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.

The Fairytale God

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.

…Yet Your Footsteps Were Not Seen

The waters saw you, O God, the waters saw you and writhed…Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, your lightning lit up the world; the earth trembled and quaked…yet your footsteps were not seen (Psalms 77:16, 18,19).

Even when I don’t sense your presence, I know I must trust. Trusting gives me hope. Hope keeps me going. All is borne from memories past: the testimonies of others, the sense of your past presence and yes, the little miracles experienced.

My vision may be clouded and my ears plugged, but still I have the assurance that I can trust you. Yes, even when I do not sense your presence; for I remember the promise you made to me many years ago—“I will be with you until the end of your time.”

If I could only quiet the noise in my head and the distress in my heart; maybe then I can remember that promise anew and hear your footsteps once again.

So now I trust and wait and hope as I live out your promise in faith. I remain faithful this Good Friday, with the hope I have in you, as I awake anew on Easter Sunday.

The Beatitude (You Are Blessed, vs. 9)

Blessed Are The Peace Maker (Beatitudes #7)
Blessed Are The Peace Maker (Beatitudes #7) (Photo credit: loswl)

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God (Matthew 5: 9).

You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family (The Message).

It is not important to be the first person at the food table. There’s plenty for everyone. Nor, is it important to “always be right.” It’s good to hear ideas from others. Another person may have a better idea, a more efficient and effective idea to increase life’s bounty and to improve life’s comfort.

Cooperation will ensure that all benefit, not just a few. Cooperation assures that we all benefit from God’s earthly blessings.

Are you a peacemaker, if so, lead the way? We are counting on you.

The Beatitudes (You Are Blessed, vs. 8)

Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God (Matthew 5:8 NIV).

“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world” (Matthew 5:8, The Message).

Do you feel blessed?  It is difficult, at times, to say that we are blessed when life circumstances keep us down and when another prayer, the one we prayed 364 days prior, seemed to go unanswered.

Guess what, despite the circumstances of life, despite those who try to control us and to dictate how we should think, feel, live and respond to our world, and despite those days when our “faith is dry and prayer seems useless”* we are blessed.

How is that you say? We are blessed because our Savior Jesus, who understands the unpredictability of this world (see Mark 14:32-41), advocates for us daily. In this season of Lent, we are reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice.  We are reminded that even when our minds and emotions are fragile, frayed  or frustrated; when our faith is weak, when it is hard to believe in a God, much less see God;  the Spirit prays for us (Roman 8:26-27).

It is all right to feel that your mind and emotions are fragile. It is all right not to feel that you have a “pure heart” because Jesus paid the price to help our doubts. I was reminded about the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)!

Jesus knows what it is like to be human; therefore, His grace fills the gaps in our faith. It overrides our shortcomings. God’s grace can’t be undone by an emotional outburst or doubt. So rejoice that God loves us enough to have given us the grace of Jesus Christ.

Let us pray: God, we thank you for loving us in our anger, in our doubts and providing us an avenue, through the Holy Spirit, to speak our needs to you when we cannot. Thanks for reminding us that we are in your care and yes, we will see you.  Amen.


*Sacred Space, The Prayer Book 2012, p.91)