Friday, January 27, 2012

God in the Wetlands

"My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender...  for I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath."  - Hosea 11:8,9

God is so misunderstood.  I hear him batted around in some secular discussions as wrathful, indecisive, paranoid and even a tyrant.  Then in some Christian circles he's talked about as if he's a great big grandpa in the sky - kind-hearted and lovey-dovey but sometimes distant, detached or confused.   If I was God I'd have long ago gotten frustrated with stupid conceptions of myself floating around and smited everyone.  I would have been a God who liked to smite, I'm sure of that.

But when I pick up my bible and actually read it, I find something totally other and totally alien.  He's not somewhere in the middle of the character speculations above.   He's actually alien to our brains.  He doesn't make sense because he doesn't act at all like us.  (In case you're wondering, he's not a real alien with big eyes and tentacles.  Although I'm not sure what God as spirit looks like.  My guess He's not some fuzzy white glow.)

There's a weightiness to God's character in scripture.  A whisper of his glory, and constant hints that he is beyond searching out completely.  He's a God of both wrath and a God of love.  He speaks in anthropomorphic language so that we can understand his feelings, but they are way-way deeper than we are.  Dude, they're seriously deep dude.

I had a lady once tell me that she doesn't believe that God's a micro-manager.  In the conventional understanding of micromanaging, I'd agree, but God is both the micro-manager of the entire universe and the one who super-cedes it all.  And on top of all this he has time for each individual human.  He's a big God with a big heart for his world and for those lost in it.

I know this as I was pretty lost in the Floridian wetlands yesterday.  I was already as tense as bow-string, walking face-first through spider webs, when I stumbled upon huge gator slides, yikes, big poops, yikes-yikes, and a place where bush-hogs had torn up the marsh for about an acre, gulp.  They had literally blown the place up.  I'm glad I wasn't around when they were doing it.  Oh, and I saw an armadillo.  Oh, oh, and I saw a flock of turkey-buzzards which had my "fear of birds meter" hitting "run for your piddly life you fool!"  I'm pretty sure that 3 of them could take me and there were about 50!  Yike, yike, yikee-yike!!!.

But while I was lost, I was never really lost.  God knew exactly what I was doing and where I was, even though I clearly did not.  Of course I'm not going to start testing God and start hiking around without a compass (come to think of it, I didn't have a compass). God doesn't work like a magical GPS.  Plus he might decide to test me with some natural consequences.  I would, I'd smite, smite, smite: Alligators, turkey-buzzards, bush-hogs, and just for the place-where-my-presence-is-withdrawn-and-is-therefore-totally-evil of it I'd even let the armadillo have a go!

Back on topic:  In the passage above I hear God's heart.  He says himself that he's not like man, who's quick to wrath.  He's a God who clearly leans towards compassion.  Ultimately this is most evident and clearly seen at the cross, where his justice and mercy kiss.

I've thought that maybe a good practice is to take the best human qualities I can think of and multiply them by a trillion-gazillion and then apply them to God.  But this doesn't work in regards to him.  God's simply off the map when it comes to goodness.  And he exhibits a goodness that hates evil, loves good, and rescues sinners.

So here's to pressing on to know the real God.  Not the grandfather in the sky and not the petty and mean-spirited judgmental god.  Oh, and not the Florida wetlands GPS God.  

The more I actually study my bible, the more I realize that I need humility in approaching the character of God, for he's so good and way beyond what I can fully understand that I really need him to help me think on him rightly.

What do you think about God?  Would you, like me, really like smiting if you were God?  Comment bellow...

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