Quite honestly God is the toughest subject to talk about. How do we convey someone that is so intimate and particularly grounded in our own experience? How do we explain in words someone who isn’t contained by our understanding, yet resides within us? How do we make sense of the Creator, who is justice and love at the same time? And how do we make Him relatable without imposing an idea that will never fully capture the transcendent nature of Him?
It’s impossible for me to talk about God in a meaningful way without talking about my personal understanding of Him. One thing I know for a fact is that God shows up amid the unexpected. God is, in a way, everything that is in the realm of the unknown. When you think you have Him figured out, you realize you know nothing. Welcoming Him to our world is the most challenging and lifelong transformational journeys we’ll ever be in. While all these big ideas are deeply satisfying, and fulfilling to my brain, they do not speak to my heart. That’s where my personal story comes in. You see, God is both greater than our own finite existence and small enough to fit in our unique experiences. I believe He is in the making of History and in the making of our own story.
And that’s how I met Him growing up. First through hearing about his power, creativity, and knowledge - those big ideas children learn. He is big. He loves us. He watches us, so behave and follow his commands and He will take care of us. Unfortunately, nobody seems to prepare little children for the unavoidable meeting with pain and suffering that is intrinsic to life. And suddenly, the Jesus who loves little children does not respond to the questions of the grown-up us. We’re left with the empty morality of Sunday school without the substantial God that sustains all things. For me, it was difficult to understand why people that I loved so much went through such heartbreaking experiences like finding out they had cancer or losing a child before they even had the chance to take them home from the hospital. I questioned why the Jesus who loved little children didn't teach us to love as adults. Why were we left with unanswered questions and a heart filled with seemingly purposeless pain? At times, I wondered whether the Savior I was taught to pray for cared for anything more than just the rules.
The amazing thing is, God is gracious enough to help us through our internal and external wrestling as He reveals Himself to us in His own unique way. As complex as God is; He chose to make Himself human to make Himself relatable to us. I thank my Charismatic Christian upbringing for teaching me I needed a relationship with this God even though they never taught me what that truly meant beyond the set of rules and rituals that were expected of “good Christians”. I know now that there is so much more to it than just that. Knowing Him is both a group effort and a lifetime personal endeavor. And I know that His love, in the mysterious and tangible way that it manifested itself to me throughout my life, is what carried me through when I faced my parents’ divorce, feelings of rejection, disappointment in myself, sexual abuse, brief but real suicidal ideation, and so many other ups and downs. God is not just a powerful creator to me now, but also my source of meaning, identity, and hope. The intricate way in which He has revealed Himself to me is a miracle embedded in a greater narrative of redemption.
Dear friends, what they told us in Sunday school does not capture the totality of who God is. He isn’t the product of our imagination that will always meet our desires, deal with our wrongdoers, give us all the feels, and say only what we want to hear. He isn’t just the bodyguard who will shield us from all pain; rather, He’s the One who will make us strong enough to endure suffering. He isn’t the genie God that will give us all we want, but, He will give us all we need and lead us to the discovery of the ultimate treasure: Himself. He doesn’t exist to please us. And, while I recognize this as one of the toughest blows to our egos, I believe we exist for Him. That’s why living with God is an everlasting exercise of humility and trust in His grace. I know for a fact God is real. God is the Savior, the ultimate Father, and King. But God is much more than any of these words could convey. He chose to relate to us and to make Himself known to those who seek Him. How? That’s a question with infinite possible answers. What I do know is that it’s worth the risk of asking it.
Lici is a graduate student from Brazil. She is essentially an extrovert who's really bad at small talk. She serves at Skyline and loves all things blue, tasty and insightful.