How does one go about picturing God? That was my dilemma when choosing an image for this blog. What would God outside the box we often put Him in be like?
Something to Consider
Today like most days I was doing a study by Eugene H, Peterson based on his translation of the Bible, called The Message. The name of the study is called “Solo.” and I highly recommend it. Anyway, today we are in Job 38, and it struck me. Let me quote it here so you can know what it says:
Job 38:4-11; 24-27
“Where were you when I created the earth? Tell me, since you know so much! Who decided its size? Certainly, you’ll know that! Who came up with the blueprints and measurements? How was its foundation poured and who set the cornerstone, while the morning stars sang in chorus and all the angels shouted praise? And who took charge of the ocean when it gushed forth like a baby from the womb? That was Me! I wrapped it in soft clouds and tucked it in safely at night, then I made a playpen for it, a strong playpen so it couldn’t run loose, and said, ‘Stay here, this is your place. Your wild tantrums are confined to this place.’
Can you find your way to where lightning is launched or the place from which the wind blows? Who do you suppose carves canyons for the downpours of rain, and charts the routes of thunderstorms that bring water to unvisited fields, deserts no one ever laid eyes on, drenching the useless wastelands, so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass?”
Peterson says this is a poetic look at the creation story of Genesis 1 which gives a narrative account. Science has a remarkably unpoetic account of chance and illogical possibility which removes love and care from the picture entirely. I’m not getting into the why would anyone take the poetic beauty out of the beginning of our world in this blog, but please think about it for yourself.
If you have ever watched the movie, “The Life of Pi? You know that it is about an incredible story and at the end, Pi’s interviewer questions the story and Pi tells him that the interviewer’s way of looking at the story is possible, but why would anyone want to be so unimaginative and poetic in their thinking? That is a good question on how we look at anything in our lives isn’t it? The world tries to intellectualize everything and takes all the poetry and beauty out of everything/ That is not to say that poetry is opposed to science. I think that poetry enhances our view of everything, including science. Poets often look far deeper into any given situation to see something meaningful and even life-changing in what others may only pass by or pass over.
So, please reread the Scripture above as a poem and notice the poetic images in it before you go on reading here.
God Outside the Box
People have been trying to understand God for literally thousands of years. If science is correct, then it would be millions of years. Just as in a lab, we often look at small, what we consider understandable portions of God. For our finite minds to understand the Infinite God, we must break Him down into limited pieces, but we miss the real picture that way. I think humankind has been doing it for so long that we have come to believe God is understandable, controllable and small. We have missed the poetic beauty of a mysterious and beyond the box God that desires a relationship with us.
Just as science in its quest to understand our world has stripped it of its poetic beauty, so we in our quest to know God have stripped God of His majesty and wonder. And we see a very cold society in the making. Many have already begun to feel its chill.
Made in God’s Image
There have been a few ideas of what it means to be made in God’s image. Some say it means we are made to be in community in that God is three persons in one and others think it means that we are born to love because God is love and still, others have said that it means we long for God as we want for those who understand us. I think I agree with all of those ideas. I also think psychology is a good thing. I wanted to study psychology when I was in college because it was so exciting to me. Instead, I read self-help books in a quest to understand myself and those around me. Did it help? Maybe, in some ways it did. But psychology has caused us to put humans in boxes according to skin color, culture, financial and intellectual ability, etc. What good has it done? Do we really understand each other or have we decided to stay within our own box? Using our box to excuse our prejudice or justify our choices or attitudes?
Could the term “thinking outside the box” be another way to think poetically about ourselves and not limit ourselves to the shallow musings of our society? Could it be that a significant portion of our cultures have forgotten the love, beauty, and wonder of our world that a poet remembers?
What does the Scripture portion above awaken in you? Have you ever thought of God in those terms? What is God asking you today to open your mind to the possibilities of God and of yourself?