Tuesday, July 22, 2014

God is...

What is your image of God?  That's a good question.

I am facilitating a course on prayer, which asks as its first exercise, how the image one has of God affects how one prays, so I have been reading a number of descriptions of what the students think God is like.  For many of them, God is friend. For a few, God is an almighty theological construct to be feared and respected. For others, God has been a watchful judge.

Who is God for me?

Never Absent. Always. Forever.
A sometimes palpable presence I sense deeply near me and in me.

Yes, this presence is a Person. As I grow older, I am ever more aware that God is near. Even when I have been in the depths of pain or despair, I have known for a long time I am never alone. In the good things, God is with me, and we rejoice together.

Which Person? More and more, a triune presence - Jesus, trailing streams of the Father's glory and the
Spirit's encompassing warmth. Father-God, perhaps even more compassionate because of the suffering of his Son, oozing Spirit. Spirit - present in every breath, bringing Father and Son closer to me.

It has not always been this way. As a child, I only had a vague image of God as an old man with a beard watching me from heaven, usually with disapproval (no doubt the baggage of stern church ladies who watched us toddlers in the church nursery.)  As a teen during the 60's God was a mere intellectual exercise. Was God dead? That sappy sentimentalized Jesus guy - he was for people not smart enough to know better, right?

When did it change? Over time. With experience. With listening to the promptings of my heart. With the support of a community of faith. With the discovery that when I could rely on no one else, God was there. Over and over. Through it all. Once, when deep in meditative prayer, I saw myself walking through the corridors of the interior of my own heart toward a light glowing from just around the corner - a light I was in too much awe to approach...

When do I feel this Presence? Whenever I am mindful. When do I not? Whenever I let the tasks of daily life overtake and preoccupy me. Yet, beneath even that, I know.

I just know. God is...

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