“Yeah, I found God and he was absolutely just like me. He opened my mouth, looked down my throat, and told me I was thirsty.” -Ed Kowalczyk
I thought I knew who God was, back when I was little. My parents taught me to pray to this supreme being, this ruler of the universe. They taught me that God was always there for me, that He answered my prayers, even if sometimes the answer was no, or wait. And I couldn’t wrap my brain around someone who wasn’t able to be seen, who didn’t speak to me like my friends spoke to me, but they told me that He was my best friend, and that He was to be honored at all times, through my actions and through my words.
The first time I said a bad word I thought God was going to knock me dead right there on the spot. And when I snuck out to the movies with my sister against His teachings, I thought the world was going to come crashing down on my head, because not only did my parents teach me that God was there for me, but they told me that He was also firm.
Of course the Bible did nothing to dispel either one of these primary assertions, either. In the Old Testament the God I saw was unyielding, the firm God that was liable to strike me down for swearing or for sneaking out to the movies. While in the New Testament the God I saw was represented by his “son,” Jesus Christ, who was for the most part non-violent and spoke in a quiet but effective voice. Which one was the real God, the tough one who took no guff, or the one who was slow to anger and who believed in second chances? They were both supposed to be, but I could never reconcile it.
Interestingly enough, no one else could reconcile it for me either. And I asked everyone. What I did get from all the searching was that God is simply unfathomable, in both who He is and in why He does what He does. Simply put, that means don’t question Him or His motives because we will never know. I found it ironic, though, because God supposedly gave us free will, and a questioning nature, but when it comes to Him we aren’t ever going to know. And we should be alright with that. Apparently.
“I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for his reputation if he didn’t.” -Jules Renard
For a while I honestly didn’t know if God existed. I bought into the whole idea that people wouldn’t be dying in Ethiopia or Chicago if there was a God who truly cared about them, that women wouldn’t be raped, and that there would be no hardships in life. If there were a God, and if that God honestly loved everyone as the good book says, then why did bad things happen to good people? And it all came back to free will. If there were no free will then God would just make us all good, would just erase disease so that we wouldn’t be able to get them, would stop the onslaught of death, and sickness, and pain, and hate between people. However, then we would all just be puppets and nothing we did would matter because it would all be preordained, decisions decided and made for us, a TV show in real life, scripted and dull.
So, that couldn’t have been it. God must exist, I decided, even if all this horrible stuff happened in the world, perhaps precisely because this horrible stuff happened in the world. But this also meant that people could hate God, that they could burn His holy places, they could curse His name, and they could even deny His existence. With impunity. Or at least with impunity on this earth, but if you believe in God you believe that there is so much more to life than what this world offers. There it is, the wager that there’s more, and if we can last beyond death without being zombies, why not believe? That’s what draws many people into the “God camp,” not that He will answer your prayers, but that He will give you life after death, everlasting life even, as a gift. That’s some gift.
Now that I’m grown, and I’ve gone through all of the chaos of believing, then disbelieving, then believing again, and I’ve matured in my thinking, I think I’ve figured it out about as much as I’m going to without going crazy. Because there’s a point where I just don’t think humans can comprehend any further when it comes to God. In that way God is just like me, because I believed in myself so thoroughly when I was a kid. I thought the sky was the limit, that I could do whatever it was I set my mind to, but then life interfered and let me know that there was a definite ceiling. But I picked myself up from the rubble, even though it took several years to accomplish, and I began to believe again that I could do what I set my mind toward. And yet there is still a haze there, way up high, that tells me God has a plan for me that might not be what I set my mind toward.
I’ll admit that I don’t know who God is. Now, I honestly don’t know. But that’s okay. I’m not supposed to know who God is, just like I’m not supposed to look on His countenance. I would be struck dumb and blind if I did know, so I’m okay not knowing. But I trust Him to know what’s best for me. And right now that means possibilities abound, which is fine by me.
“It is easy to understand God as long as you don’t try to explain him.” -Joseph Joubert