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.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:7, NIV).
You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for (Matthew 5:7, The Message)
The message is so simple that it can be easily overlooked. Special blessings always come when we care for others. If we help others we may get a respite from our own struggles. In fact, we often find out how blessed we are.
There’s something intrinsic about caring for others and giving back. It often comes with special warmth in our heart and soul. When we care for others, we are cared for; respite for now, but possible greater rewards await. The idea of paying it forward comes to mind.
Jesus denied self to save humankind. Let us deny a little of our pain, joylessness and busyness to relieve the pains of others. When we do so we go a long way in bringing peace to someone in this world and isn’t this what it is all about—being there for others.
The value of sharing oneself is the ultimate modeling of Christian living. Let us pledge to do more of this in 2012.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3 NIV).
“You are blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (The Message, Matthew 5:3).
God, I am at the end of my rope right now. In fact, I am losing my grip. I wouldn’t want to wish this _____________ (you name it) on anyone. But you said that I am blessed.
How can that be? Explain that to me? It is like I am in an endless pit. Teach me the secret of more of you. I want that reality for my life.
But then it hits me. If I put my focus on you instead of my problems I will feel blessed; blessed in such a way that I want to help others. One writer said that when we allow God to translate our problems into a ministry that our pain becomes someone else’s gain.*
We learned that when we are poor in spirit, we have more of God; and, isn’t that what we pray for anyway.
So as I pray daily, I remain hopeful, even as the grip gets tighter, in the words found in Ecclesiastes 7:8:
The end of a matter is better than its beginning,
and patience is better than pride.
*Batterson, M. (2006). In a pit with a lion on a snowy day.Colorado Springs: Multnomah Books
I say to God my Rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy” My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, “Where is your God” (NIV).
As we, the faithful contemplate your silence; we can come dangerously close to questioning your existence. Where are the angels, do we really have a Heavenly Parent? Who is this Jesus, “the supposed Son” and oh yes, our comforter, the Holy Spirit? It is easier, but not comforting, to believe the “foolish ones;” who say when we die we simply cease to exist or disappear into a great, dark abyss.
How else can we explain the killings and assaults on human lives? How else can we explain the hatred, the injustice and discrimination of the vulnerable or those who are different?
How else can we explain the loss of lives and properties by tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, floods, hurricanes and other storms that this evil world creates; how else can we explain 9/11 and the purposeful goal of one group to annihilate another. Our history, the world’s history bears this out.
What loving God would allow such destruction, such evil?
O, but then, a gentle spirit reminds us of the great mystery; the mystery of the Cross and the desires of our hearts to fight for justice, to right the wrongs and to help the helpless and the loss.
What causes us to praise YOU in the midst of these injustices; even when they are at our front doors? O God, we are “as the deer that desire cold fresh water, our soul pants for you O God. Our soul thirsts for YOU, the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2).
Some say that you thirst too; you thirst to have a relationship with us. Some believe that you too cry along with us as evil tramples upon us. So, why the silence; aren’t you the omnipotent one? So what’s the answer Lord? Is life meant to be a struggle always?
So as I anxiously waited and prayed, with multitude of doubts, God gave me a glimpse of heaven; yes, I had a peek. I had a peek of heaven, not visually, but within my soul. O what an adventure. It is hard to put into words, but my soul was fueled with joy and thanksgiving. It was a wonderful gift; a miniscule sample of things to come.
So in this silence God strengthened my faith and I realized that things happen in this world that is unexplainable. So will my lot in life improve because of this, not really? I am no different from anyone else who has suffered and will suffer. My job is, to partner with God, to the best my understanding and abilities, to make heaven on earth for others.
God, as I speak let me talk about your willingness to “go ahead” and pave the way for me; so my pain, sorrows, and injustice that I suffer are bearable.
For you oh Lord, have already taken the major brunt for me; your spirit prays for me when I know not what to pray—“making prayer out of my worthless sighs, my aching groans” (Roman, 8:26, The Message).
God as I speak…let me be genuine in my praise for you. Amen
This is written for all wise servant leaders and those who ache to do God’s will
“Here am I,” said Mary;
“I am the Lord’s servant; as you have spoken, so be it.” Luke 1:38 (NEB)
I surrender Lord. My plans are your plans. My wants are your wants.
Though I have doubts and fear; I trust you will show me the way. But count on me Lord to seek clarifications as I pray daily to be “at-one-ment” with you.
I need not fear for my sustenance; my needs are to fulfill the needs of those who call out in the “wilderness.”
I surrender Lord. My plans are your plans. My wants are your wants. All I ask Lord is that you offer help along the way.