Tuesday, August 18, 2009

but seriously

a theology professor once explained learning about God this way - sometimes we can draw a box of definition around God using only what we know God is not. finding what God is can sometimes be more of a challenge.

i know that God is not a God who has intended for me to live my whole life by emotion, chance and my own interpretation of events that may or may not be natural. i say this because i have seen christians live this way. i have seen some people very close to me live in agony and fear because the only way they know by which to make good decisions is to wait for a consuming conviction-to wait and see what God reveals to them through fleeting sentiments, billboards, or the good old fashioned 'open and point' scripture-reading. don't misunderstand me. i have heard several stories of God speaking through these very things, but as a general rule, i don't think that my relationship with my Creator should hinge on feelings and divinations.

i believe, rather, that i have been divinely equipped for this life, in a way that allows me to walk in humble gratitude and confidence in a life that is guided by principles of righteousness and love, when it is, in fact, guided by principles of righteousness and love. i do not always need to wait for a feeling to tell me 'yes' or to tell me 'no.' i do not need to live in guilt and uncertainty. guilt is not of God. once again, do not misunderstand me. it is important, it is vital to be ever-sensitive to the leading and the presence of the Holy Spirit. one would be a fool to disregard such a priceless gift. once again, i think i am just trying to find truth by naming non-truth. if i get caught up in over-spiritualizing every thing in my life (for instance - i saw a purple finch sitting on a lilac bush and so clearly, God wants me to move back to nh. no, that's silly), i believe that i will dilute what it is that i love most about God - the beauty and grace right in the midst of human depravity.

my real question in all of this is the role of God in my life. i think i that i understand, or at least know how to pursue further, how the existence and character of God changes the way i live my life. what i don't understand is where to draw the lines between attributions: for what am i responsible? for what are you responsible? for what is God responsible? for what is no one responsible? i'm not sure.

i started thinking about this a couple of years ago in the context of babies. my friend was getting married and having a hard time deciding what kind of contraception to use, or whether she should use it at all. i had heard before that the bible calls children a blessing, and so who are we to try and dictate when or how God chooses to bless us. this made sense to me at the time. then again, it didn't matter too much to me - marriage and babies being so far away.

then, my friend and i had a conversation with our pastor and his wife, who had decided to have no more children. they told us not to over-spiritualize the situation. they said that when a woman mis-carries, it's not necessarily because God took the baby away, but because God designed our bodies to work a certain way. this made me think about conception. i know that the bible says that i was knit together in my mothers womb, and that's a beautiful thought, but i wonder if we've interpreted it in a slightly over-literal sense. for instance, every day there are babies born in africa to impoverished women with AIDS and they do not survive through their miserable first year of life. is that the will of God, or is that just a consequence of humans refusing to care for one another?

since that time, i have struggled with this whole idea of attribution. i still don't really understand, but i guess if i understood everything, i wouldn't need a God. i have resolved to the philosophy that i should do all that i can do because that is all that i can do. whatever is out of my control may or may not be orchestrated by God, but i do know that whatever happens, God will help me to find the good and encourage it to grow.

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