“We had supposed our lives to be so utterly ordinary. Sin-habits dull our free faith into stodgy moralism and respectable boredom; then crisis rips the veneer of cliche off everyday routines and reveals the side-by-side splendors and terrors of heaven and hell. Apocalypse is arson – it secretly sets a fire in the imagination that boils the fat out of an obese culture-religion and renders a clear gospel love, a pure gospel hope, a purged gospel faith.”
– Eugene Peterson
so it seems approaching an unseen god is dangerous.
somewhere i’d decided that relating to god means certain things. the old aslan metaphor – good but not safe – was an idea, not my reality. i thought god was safe, predictable. i do this – god does that.
a simple enough equation.
if i don’t believe in god that certainly shows what i anticipate god doing.
and maybe that is why i’ve decided he doesn’t exist in the first place – if he’s never “done” anything outside of what is measurable or controllable, then he is not supernatural, he is not god.
what if i told you that god gave me a sign post? that in an unanticipated moment he showed me that he does in fact exist and that even my physical person is his to do as he will? that in power, in power, he loved me and does what god always does – he told me the truth about myself with the volume turned up real loud.
i swim in an ocean of sin, so when god came close, it hurt. and who is to blame when god comes in power? the changes wrought by an unseen god are done by force. and i shrunk back, like a scolded dog, tail between my legs, tears down my face – yes, i’d been delivered, but what just happened?
why is god close so unsettling?
i guess i like my demons, because i would rather be in control of a life without god than to have no control with him near.
but what if i’ve got it backwards?
what if the life i believe i control is entirely owned by another? what if the demons that have soothed the pains through the years are, in fact, demons? not benevolent, but sinister, lulling me into false assumptions about life, about myself, about god?
and if i reel when god touches me, frightened by the lack of my own initiation, scared by his actual existence, then that moment is reality – like the great divorce grasses – bringing me into a world where control is not a virtue and where it’s going to hurt a little until i get used to it, until i’m as real as he is.
and what if the amount of pain i feel reflects the amount of pains i’ve taken not to feel?
because i’ve taken a lot.
i’ve spent years avoiding pain. and even with jesus, i’ve fought to keep half a life while he insists on life to the full. he won’t be deterred and i will have to witness to his existence.
i will see his glory and so will you.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD,
“and my servant whom I have chosen,
so that you may know and believe me
and understand that I am he.
Before me no god was formed,
nor will there be one after me.
I, even I, am the LORD,
and apart from me there is no savior.
I have revealed and saved and proclaimed—
I, and not some foreign god among you.
You are my witnesses,” declares the LORD, “that I am God.
Yes, and from ancient days I am he.
No one can deliver out of my hand.
When I act, who can reverse it?”
Isaiah 43 10-13