• Barb Lownsbury

Hiding God

It was a sobering revelation, the day I realized I had made God into my own image. Oh, I would’ve fought you on it if you told me I had done so. I would have carefully pulled out book, chapter and verse to make my point on what God should be in my life – and everyone else’s, for that matter. But God, being all that He is, has stripped away my illusions of who He is one-by-one.

When I first met God, I saw Him as fierce, full of judgement for those who strayed too far from His perfection. I worked very, very hard to keep His ways and follow His pathway toward a righteous life. I constantly examined and re-examined my every thought and motive, comparing it to some impossible standard I could never reach. On the rare occasions I could keep everything perfectly in check, I found myself emotionally numb and detached from those around me. It was like living in a glass house, constantly waiting for the wrong move, the wrong step, the wrong stone thrown to bring the whole thing crashing down. It was exhausting.

Of course the house eventually shattered. As I sat there sifting through the pieces, trying to understand, God sat down beside me and helped me sort through them. He reminded me of His grace, and of His deep mercy. Placing an arm around my shoulder, friend to friend, He reminded me that Jesus came so I didn’t have to live in a glass house anymore. He came that I “may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance, to the full, till it overflows,” (John 10:10). And I grew.

Later, God’s blessings started suspiciously masking themselves as an upwardly mobile career, complete with 2.5 children, a McMansion and financial abundance. Somehow, if I had a leave-it-to-beaver lifestyle, and I was materially blessed, somehow God must be in that, right? God patiently and lovingly stripped the scales off my eyes, allowing me to realize worldly success is hollow, and no amount of financial blessing in the world can bestow peace and joy to my soul. And I grew.

Finally, I realized my natural tendency to gravitate toward a plain vanilla world, full of people who acted and reacted and worshipped exactly like me, was just another way I was trying to make God into my own image. God is a God of bright, vibrant color! God is a God of creativity, of beauty, of all that is unique and wonderful and different. “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made,” (Romans 1:20). All of creation shows us how infinitely diverse our God is. Why would I expect Him to reach out to each and every person the way He reaches out to me? And once again, I grew.

Since then, I have learned to look for God’s beauty in many, many places. I see it in the weathered hand of an old woman, gently stroking the tender cheek of a grandchild. I see it in the different ways I watch people worship God, some with a solemn formality and some with reckless abandon, and I know God smiles. I see it in the midst of my mistakes, as God has shown me my best lessons have come from that hot furnace of challenge which has purified and refined me into a woman who has found peace and happiness and joy, even when such things shouldn’t exist.

I am sure I will have more heartfelt moments moving forward where God steps in my path and reminds me His ways are not my ways. Times where He shows me He is so much more, so much greater, so much more complex and subtle and powerful and real than the tiny little “God box” I have a tendency to want to try to fit Him into. The difference is now I search for them because I know – I will grow.

For Further Thought: “Now we see a reflection in a mirror; then we will see face-to-face. Now I know partially, but then I will know completely in the same way that I have been completely known,” (I Corinthians 13:12). The Bible makes it clear we will never completely understand God while we are on this earth. Still, there is such value in learning more and more about who He is! Do you find yourself trying to fit God into your box of who you think He should be? It’s so easy to do! This week, consider praying for God to broaden your understanding and perceptions of how He can work in your life.

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