Jan 6, 2013

God Unboxed

Our first impression of God, the Father, is usually that he is “The God of the Quick Fix.”  And He is that.  He is the parent of our spiritual infancy.  We bring our life boo-boos to Him, and He makes them all better.

He is the God of the "Box."  He is nicely framed in our youthful mind.  He is very predictable and understandable.  And we happily define Him by our little clich├ęs:  “God will always… God will never…” etc. 

And that’s fine – for spiritual children.  When we’re young in the faith, most of us really need an uncomplicated, comfortable, and comforting God.

But, if we choose to continue to pursue Him, we are destined to meet The More Sophisticated God, the God of our spiritual rearing.  This is the God we encounter on the way to our maturity. 

This God is much too complex to any longer fit into our childish little box.  This God is hard to understand, and even harder to explain.  He is a little scary, and made all the more so by the issues He raises.

He wants to know such things as, “Will you love me to the end of my purposes, even though you don’t understand them in advance?  Will you trust me to work my plan, at the expense of yours?  Will you follow me, no matter what, to your own highest good?”

This is the God of our awakening, whose first requirement is respect for His authority.  So, he has no big qualms about asking us to wait, “in the dark,” on Him, and then wait some more, and then some more, far beyond our assessment of “appropriate.”  This is the God who won’t take no for an answer, and will make you pay if you offer it.  This is the God who is completely willing to ignore our druthers in favor of achieving His purposes in our life.

This is the God who asks of us the ultimate trust.  He asks us to position our trust, not in what He does, but in who He is.

And, this God runs with a weighty crowd.  And, unless you are willing to embrace the requirements for personal gravity, you will find it impossible to penetrate that circle.  

He walks among people like the patient Job, who did everything right, and yet, was ask to endure personal calamity.  The patriarch, Abraham, traveled with Him.  And, this Sophisticated God put His finger right on the thing that Abraham loved most in the world, his son, Isaac.  And then this God of the more sophisticated purpose said, “I want that.” 

And, Moses was among His close fellows.  To him, this God made an insistent offer of leadership, which Moses was not allowed to refuse – though he was completely intimidated by it.  This more insistent God is just not in the business of rearing light weights.

My twenty-two year old son, Andy, was wounded in the neck in Afghanistan and lost the use of his legs as a result.  He was sent to Walter Reed Army Medical Center for his initial intensive medical care.  It was a traumatic and uncertain time for both of us – and the whole of our family and extended friends.

Andy and I spent many nights there (I was the night guy, Mom was the day girl) talking, and crying, and hugging.  It was a very emotionally charged time, as you can imagine.  After about a month, however, Andy was well enough to be medevac’d to Florida, for his extended rehab.

As we said good-bye on that last afternoon at Walter Reed, I hugged him for a long time.  I promised to meet Him in Florida; and then, I turned to leave.  I got nearly to the door of his room when I was overwhelmed by my love for this “kid.”  I turned and looked back at his thin face, as he lay on his pillow, eyes closed, obviously weary with everything.

 I said, in emotional anguish, “‘Ange,’ are you gonna’ be OK?”  He opened his eyes and looked at me, pausing for a second.  Then, a broad smile flashed across his face and his eyes briefly sparkled as he said in a weak but mischievous voice, “Now Dad - we gotta’ be big boys.”

 Sometimes that’s all a worthy pursuit of God comes to.   
                                      We just gotta’ be big boys and girls.