For many of us, we make God small. We make God like a police officer, a banker, or a doctor. That God should immediately come to our aid only when we have urgent emergencies. Or that God should listen to our prayers as we store them up like a bank. Or even that because we pray we ought to be immediately healed of all that is ill.
In point of fact God is much bigger then all of these small considerations. In many ways I call these the three versions of ‘pop Theology’. It certainly feels good, and it certainly makes one not have to think too hard or listen in their hearts to God too hard.
Yet, what is missing from this ‘pop Theology’ is the consideration that God is bigger then our wildest imaginings. I once listened to a very old monk who had become blind who shared that he was thankful that he was blinded, he said: “it must have been for the good of my soul that I became blinded”. How wise indeed it is to see that the ways of God are so far beyond our own and that our pilgrimage here is but a short blink in our life of eternity with God on the New Earth and New Heavens. As God says in Isaiah: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Another author who comes to mind is Frank Sheed who in his book Theology and Sanitywrites that the truth that God is must be believed not only as mystery but also as he has revealed himself. A mystery in the theological sense is something that has yet to be fully revealed by God and which is impossible to fully deduce without further revelation. To not believe in God is insanity because it is a rejection of reality, a rejection of the world and universe as it truly is. I would argue it would be just as insane to put God in the box of a police officer, banker, or a doctor as discussed above.
What this means is that we must give our hearts entirely to a God who we may not at times understand which undoubtably can be scary. At times we may be angry or frustrated with a God who can at times seem to remain silent even in the midst of tragedy. In the end we are grateful for having been given the strength and grace to figure out our problems or with the aid of others create a stronger community build in righteousness. As it says in one of my many favorite psalms: “The valiant one whose steps are guided by the LORD, who will delight in his way, May stumble, but he will never fall, for the LORD holds his hand. Neither in my youth, nor now in old age have I seen the righteous one abandoned or his offspring begging for bread. All day long he is gracious and lends, and his offspring become a blessing.”
God doesn’t only reveal himself as he did to Moses in the burning bush but he reveals himself in the whisper as he did before Elijah on the mountain.We need to be like Elijah, constantly seeking out the Lord in the midst of our troubles as the ineffable. Giving God our very hearts and offering him our deepest sorrows. Only when we give ourselves fully can we truly be open to a God who not only has revealed himself but also is a mystery.
Frank Sheed, Theology and Sanity(San Francisco; Ignatius Press, 1978).
1 Kings 19
"In the solitude and silence of the wilderness..., for their labor in the contest, God gives his athletes the reward they desire: a peace that the world does not know and joy in the Holy Spirit."
Husband & father of four, graduate from Quincy University and currently a grad student at Franciscan University. Director of Faith Formation & Youth Ministry for All Saints Parish since January 2012.