In his blog he issues a challenge that can be found here.
I have been silent on my blog for personal reasons and I do not know what it is about this challenge that captivates me enough to break my silence, but here we go.
His challenge is summed up in his quote:
I challenge all progressive theo-bloggers to write one post about God between now and August 15.
I do not know if I qualify as a theo-blogger, but according to some I do. I rarely think of myself as a theologian. There are others who are smarter than me, and truth be told, I have an undergrad from a small Bible college that had questionable accreditation when I started going there.
I don’t talk about God very often. Jesus, the Holy Spirit, people, politics are easier for me. Jesus had pretty hard lessons that were kinda easy to understand. The Holy Spirit is so esoteric that you can wax poetic and get away with it. People…I am people, I get them since I are one. Politics are stupid, but easy to yap about.
God is hard. At least for me.
My opinion and my concept and my ideas about God have changed over the years based on my experiences, teachers, and opinions about what I want God to be.
When I was a little kid, there was no concept of God. I had gone to church a smattering of times and did some Sunday school…but I remember the puppet shows and the felt board stories. When I was in middle school…I prayed once because I was an abused kid and I had one friend and I lost him and I wanted him back. When I was in high school I knew God to be the Father who created everything, gave us free will, we screwed that up, so he got mad and decided we should all go to hell and then his kid came here to die for us so we would not have to go to hell if we joined the youth group and did what we were told. So I did that. I got out of hell and for the first time in my life got to be in the in crowd after an entire lifetime of being on the outside of everything.
Somewhere along the way I learned about God’s grace and love and justice with a social justice spin. Still feeling the outcast despite my ticket into the pearly gates, this had a lot of appeal…to be the loser meant you were still a winner and you got to help other losers win too.
What do I know of God? Not a whole lot. There. I said it. There are about 40,000 different denominations and countless world religions and though I believe in God, I do not know a lot about God. I think I have some ideas about God, but even that is confusing. The nature of God that we discussed in my teen years and in college was almost this box we put God in about things God could and could not do or abide by. Then, that got turned upside down as I stepped away from the sub culture I was in.
If you want chapter and verse for what I am about to say…I am sorry, I am not going to give it. I am shooting from the hip on purpose because I have to if I am going to be honest.
God is love. God wants to be loved and adored and worshipped. God is jealous. God gets angry. God forgives. God is perfect. God is many adjectives and I know that a lot of people want to put just in there but that word has so many definitions and I am not sure that at this point in my life that I know what justice is so I cannot say that since I lack the definition.
But in those things about God, I am sometimes mad at God if I am being honest and admitting that scares me a little.
I think God loves us so much that we were given free will. I think the way we have exercised that free will has put God in a position where there had to be unlimited grace. The free will bit upset me and so does the grace right now. Sometimes I really like these things..but not today. Maybe I will another day.
Here is the thing. Free will. What have we done with that? We have raped, we have killed, we have lied, we have stolen, we have let people starve to death, we have hurt people in many new and creative ways. We hurt dogs and other animals for entertainment. We have screwed up the environment and offered a clean and lovely creation pollution and global warming. All these things we have done and we are given grace? To what end? Thousands of years of grace and we still pollute, rape, kill, lie, steal, starve and hurt puppies.
Some think we get off the hook for that with a prayer and others think there is no need for even the prayer. It does not matter a hill of beans to me if there is a hurdle to this grace for the mess ups we made from free will. I don’t like it one bit and yet I need it to be true.
I can sit here and continue to talk about the mess ups of humanity and the undeserved grace. The problem is, it is more personal than that. I look in the mirror and I know who I am. I know the things I am capable of. The lies I have told, the hurt I have caused, the thoughts I have had about others. I hate almost more freely than I love some days. In one day I can hurt some people and heal others. In one hour I can be a compassionate friend to one person and diminish the spirit of another person. In those moments I do not want the freedom to cause so much pain and I certainly do not want to be let off the hook. Because yeah..I am forgiven…but someone else has scars from something I said or did or did not do. There is a ripple effect of pain. Fine…yeah…there is also a ripple effect of love and good and decency. But that sucks.
Then I look at my daughter. No matter what she does…I love her. When she hurts and for whatever reason I cannot fix it…I ache. Frankly, I would rather my arm be sawed off slowly with a rusty butter knife coated in salt than for her to suffer one once of pain.
When she was diagnosed with her heart condition as a baby I remember leaving the hospital with tears streaming down my face clutching her close to my chest with nothing but pain in my heart. I gently put her into her baby seat in the car…looked at the sky and told God, “Do whatever you want to me, but leave her alone.” Years later when the situation resolved with a pile of medical bills, I was grateful and also embarrassed for being mad at God.
In my own limited existence I have done a few things and I have gotten off relatively unscathed. I have been blessed far beyond my worth. I don’t want the grace for the things I have done, but I want the grace for her. I want the grace for others whom I love. I want the grace and the healing for people that I miss and ache for whom I have hurt.
But there it is. There is this free will that I am stuck with and I have to try to make choices. I am also stuck with this grace and this love. Even when I do not want it, it is there.
God is love. God is good. I am not. Sometimes I am. I think.
For my daughter and the ones whom I love and the ones whom I have hurt…I am grateful that God is there. For myself…I am glad too. But there are days..that I am not. There are days I have the questions we all have.
If God is good…why the Tsunamis? Why cancer? Why are we allowed to hurt others and to be hurt? If God is just..why is there grace? If we are the Imago Dei…why do we suck so much.
I will be honest…I wrote this on a bad day. But I would rather do that than give pretty progressive thoughts. Because those thoughts are how I want things to be. But the truth is. I do not know if anything I said about God is right or not.
But here is the weird part. I love God. I also fear God…but not the wrath bit. I fear the parts that I do not understand because I know one thing from the Bible…God is bigger and more than the imagination of human opinion assigns to God and there is no box that can contain.
Tony…I think I screwed this up and I think I just left myself open to be revealed and exposed as a moron. Sorry about that.