21 February 2014

God the enigma

In small group last night we discussed the character and person of God.

You can use your imagination to get the gist of how the discussion progressed. All of the characteristics put forth were positive and warm, fuzzy traits.

God loves us even when we fail.
God actually likes us and maybe even is amused by our silly antics.
God is not only gracious but also generous.
God is love.

Et cetera.

I have no quibble with these statements and similar. God is huge and amazing and wonderful and awesome. These are all true.

But what about the God who is jealous? Angry? Vengeful? Punishing?

Or, not to even go that far, but to a middle-ground: 

What about the God who is a mystery?

Obviously, there is some part of God that  must always be a mystery, since He is God, after all, and we are only His created beings. One would posit that if God were entirely understandable, He would cease to be God. 

Our leader pointed out that God wants us to get to know Him, though, to become more and more familiar with His character and person.

Well, yes, this is scriptural. The Bible is full of verses and passages about seeking God (at a cursory glance, begin with Deut. 4:29, Prov. 8:17, Jer. 29:12-14, and Acts 17:24-27). But what about when God keeps Himself apart, refuses to reveal Himself?

The God I know right now is gentle and loving, but He is also silent and enigmatic--one might even say aloof.

His ways are higher than mine and His thoughts higher than my thoughts (1saiah 55:9). And sometimes we are just completely left in the dark as to God's plan or purpose for our lives. We are called to give thanks in all circumstances and to worship God in the midst of all things. And yet for a God who promises to reveal Himself to His people, He seems awfully stand-offish to me. 

Sometimes we're faced with decisions that force us to choose one horrible path or another. Does God reach down and show us a better way, or even guide us one way or the other? Not in my experience. Sometimes our lives are full of despair, and no amount of prayer brings hope or joy. 

Take two Christian films for example: Fireproof and Courageous. These films do not portray the God I know, nor the world in which I live. In the real-life version of Fireproof, the God I am experiencing would have let the wife, Catherine, walk away and file the divorce papers. In spite of Caleb's love dare, the marriage would have ended. A silent God who did not respond positively to a horrible situation. Or in Courageous, after the daughter's death, Adam Mitchell's family would have entirely fallen apart from the grief. The other men's attempts to repair battered relationships would have failed. This is what life is like. 

As Hagar put it in Genesis 16:13, God sees me. According to David, God also hears me (Psalm 18:6). 

But that doesn't mean He always responds.

Nor does He always show us His purpose or His will. Sometimes He chooses to keep Himself hidden, leaving us in the dark, in the cold. 

Not malicious or mean.

Just silent. And aloof.

This is the God I know today.