We hear the disclaimers after every major tragedy: “God had nothing to do with this! A good God would never have allowed it to happen.” Trying to let God off the hook for the inexplicable and ignoring scripture’s affirmation of God’s sovereign control over life and death, some misguided God-followers even question the existence of hell.
Ever since the waiting room at the foot of Mt. Sinai where Aaron frantically fashioned a visible god to calm everyone’s nerves, the people of God have fallen into the trap of taming God, flattening out his words on the page, stuffing and mounting the invisible God in an attempt to explain away his other-ness.
How comfy and safe it would be to worship a predictable god, made in my own image. A psalm writer aptly summed up the work of the misguided worshipers of his day:
Those who make them are like them;Psalm 115:8
so are all who trust in them.
Anne Lamott’s quirky irreverence drives the point home: “You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Framing the question from a positive viewpoint might be more helpful: Do you love the people and the things God loves? A quick reading of the Sermon on the Mount directs our hearts toward the meek rather than the entertaining, toward those who realize their poverty of spirit rather than the confident movers and shakers who might be more fun to share a table with at a church supper.
Creating a Predictable, Safe “God”
Do you leave room for mystery in your understanding of God or are you fairly confident of your abilty to predict his next move? Granted, God has revealed himself to us in scripture, but C.S. Lewis put wisdom about God into the mouth of a talking Beaver who warns us about putting God in a box.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver …”Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
God is utterly unlike the home-crafted idols of Psalm 115, made of “metal and wood, handmade in a basement shop:
“Carved mouths that can’t talk,
painted eyes that can’t see,
Tin ears that can’t hear,
molded noses that can’t smell,
Hands that can’t grasp, feet that can’t walk or run,
throats that never utter a sound” (Psalm 115:4-7 MSG).
God comes with an agenda of his own.
He is not available for my convenience or for my profit.
When my life goes in a direction I did not anticipate, I find it helpful to remember that God is never taken off guard, never surprised by circumstances–even if they seem to me to be “out of control.”
Leaning into this following life, let’s study God’s ways, thrive on the discipline of spiritual reading, and cultivate an intimate walk with him. But let us never forget that he is the Lord, and there is no other. May we never stop learning and being amazed!
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.Isaiah 45:22
Holding you in the light,
Since Aaron fashioned a visible god to calm everyone’s nerves, God’s people have fallen into the trap of taming God, flattening out God’s words on the page, stuffing and mounting the invisible God, explaining away his otherness.Tweet
The new issue of Joyful Life Magazine can now be pre-ordered, and it includes an article from me! Look for “If I’m Already Forgiven, Why Do I Need to Confess My Sins?” Too, my friend Sue Moore Donaldson is sharing her thoughts on spiritual growth. The fall print publication will orient our gaze toward the beautiful growth and change that the Lord is working in our hearts and our homes.
Best of all, the first 100 to pre-order will receive some special bonus gifts.
Sign up for monthly encouragement in your inbox!
On the Third Thursday of every month, I send biblical encouragement and newsy insights to newsletter subscribers. You can sign up using the handy (and only slightly annoying) pop-up form or simply enter your email here to subscribe:
And as always, you can also subscribe to Living Our Days blog to get regular content delivered to your inbox twice a week. Just enter your e-mail address in the field at the top of this page. If you’re encouraged by what you read here, be sure to spread the word!
What I’m Reading Now
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and an affiliate of The Joyful Life Magazine, two advertising programs designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. If you should decide to purchase any of the books or products I’ve shared, simply click on the image, and you’ll be taken directly to the seller. If you decide to buy, I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you.