I’m trying anew to get in the habit of writing in this old blog of mine. My primary motivation is to share something about God and what He means to me, especially with my family and other people in my life with whom it is sometimes difficult to have such conversations in person. In most cases, I suspect that the difficulty comes from my own failings – either I am too timid to speak up, or my would-be hearers find it hard to listen to a flawed messenger about a perfect God. But in general, I think it can be hard these days to discuss God. For many, the idea of God conjures up thoughts of the oppressive intrusion of an arbitrary and alien moral law, or an abusive parent, or an old-fashioned, unscientific worldview long since abandoned. But these things are not who God is to many believers in Him. These things are not who God is to me. To me, God is the great mystery of justice, love, peace, and light that envelops our lives and the world in which we live; and all this precisely in the midst of the injustice, fear, confusion, and darkness that too often pursues us. This God, I believe, has made Himself known in history, especially in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Dear reader, whoever you are, I hope that you find something of value here. If you do, please let me know about it. If you don’t, keep your mouth shut! 😉
The following is a reflection I wrote about six months ago, and recently edited and added to. A second part will come in a week or so.
A Reflection on the God of All Things
We naturally desire and seek after love, goodness, truth, and beauty. But sometimes, our desires seem inexhaustible. This is explained by the fact that we were created to enjoy the infinite God. Ultimately, God alone can fulfill our desires because He is the One who made all the lovable, good, true, and beautiful things we experience in this life, Himself being Love, Goodness, Truth, and Beauty itself.
His name is “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). He is infinite and mysterious, within all things but not identified with them. He is above all, but present to all. He simply IS; but all created things are contingent, having existence and various qualities only through participation in His existence and qualities. God is thus not present before us in the same way as created things. He is not one thing among many, but the very ground and condition for all to exist. The love, goodness, truth, and beauty of all things are exemplified in God, and thus all things are meant to be enjoyed in such a way that through them we might come to know, love, and enjoy Him.
At times, many of us can testify, we find that we get an intimation, a taste, of God, through an experience of pure and upright desire that for a moment draws our hearts beyond this world. Or we experience strong emotion or profound peace when we encounter examples or talk of righteousness, Godliness or divine Love, just as if we secretly longed for these things (we in fact do!). Or perhaps we experience some diluted approximation of one of these experiences. But whether pure or diluted, in all such experiences, we do not really see God, but we, so to speak, ‘touch’ Him by desire. He is hidden from our sight, but is in fact above us, below us, to our left, to our right, all around us, and within us, seeking us out, and waiting patiently for us to recognize Him.
St. Paul, His Apostle, said this of Him:
“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for `In him we live and move and have our being.'” (Acts 17:24-28a RSV)
This God – the hidden, mysterious ground of all that exists – Has revealed Himself in history, and is actively involved with our lives.
God created us. We each come from God, and, like it or not, will return to Him. We are meant to be like Him and share His life. This God is good, cares for us, and is actively concerned about our life, but He is no tame lion. He is elusive and does not submit to our attempts to control Him – when we think we have grasped Him, tamed Him, in that moment He hides His face from us. All good things are gifts from His hand, but He is not an indulgent parent. He is not a candy machine; or to put it in a crude way, he is nobody’s “sugar daddy.” He showers gifts upon us, and is gentle and kind with us, but He is terrible and mighty, to be feared, for He will not spare us the rod of discipline and correction, and He will not cater to our whims. His goal in everything is always the greater good, but His will is often difficult for us to understand; in fact, sometimes it is impossible to understand without traveling a hard, steep, and treacherous path, as if climbing a mountain.
This God is revealed definitively in Jesus Christ, but known in shadows and images in all times and places. This God is the true God, while other gods are lesser beings, or no beings at all, the clever inventions of myth-makers.
Come back for part 2….