Confession: I’ve always felt slightly pagan. My whole life, I’ve been drawn to the mystical side of the world – toward mystery and stars and standing stones. I’ve been more inspired to faith by works of New Age writers than by most sermons I hear on Sunday morning. I was thinking this over today, wondering how this began and whether it was wrong, and I came to the conclusion that no. It’s not wrong – at least, not the way I have it. I am very firmly a Christian. I love the Lord – and yet, I wondered, how come I felt closest to the Lord not inside a building with my back against a pew, but barefoot in the grass, or standing on my driveway looking up at the constellations twinkling in the blackness over my head? How come I find trees and a gray, windswept sky more worshipful than a devotional printed on a page?
I believe, too often, we attempt to fit God into a modern box. We poke a few holes in this box and set it on a shelf, and every now and then we take it out and revisit not the true God, but the small, dusty idea of God we’ve grown used to. This is a God of tiny communion cups and crumbs of bread, of badly-written worship songs and rules you won’t find anywhere in the Bible.
When you actually open up those sacred pages, this is not the image of God you find. No – the God you find there is the one who spoke the Universe into being. This is the God who set foot on water and did not sink, who bent to help the lowest and rose to give us life, the God who subverted cultural norms for women and who taught the most radical, newfangled notions people back then had ever heard. This is a wild God, a jealous God, a God who rides on thunder and lightning and whose still, small voice is more powerful than a hurricane.
In many ways, the true image of God is more similar to pagan gods of old than our modern idea of Him. He is not a tame lion, but He is good. He is ancient, He is new, He is eternal. Who are we to think we can confine Him into the finite, frightened, doubtful box that we label ‘Sunday’ and ‘Church’ and ‘Discipline?’ Not that those are bad in any way, but we have it all wrong; we see through a glass darkly and miss who He really is.
Today after we read aloud from Proverbs, Dad had us all read a verse we’d picked about God. I chose Psalms 135:7, which holds my favorite description of God.
“He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.”
I was inspired this morning to begin a journey through Psalms and write down all the descriptions of God that I find. It’s going to be an interesting, enlightening experience – care to join me?