Saturday, 16 January 2016

Encountering God

God is beyond our words and descriptions - but it is only human to think of God in particular ways. None, of itself, is entirely adequate, but different images and descriptions helps us to discover different aspects of the immensity of God. The question of how we see God is an important one, and the answer will vary at different times and stages.

Daniel Munoz, in his book about St. John of the Cross, "Transformed by the Beloved", points out that: "Jesus himself used stories to paint different pictures of God - as a running father (Luke 15:11-32), a rejoicing woman (Luke 15:8-10), a caring shepherd (Matthew 18:12-14), a hidden treasure or a precious pearl (Matthew 13:44-46)." He adds that St. John does the same - "God is depicted as a running fountain, a living flame of love, a hiding lover, and a protective bridegroom."

Some of these images are of people in particular circumstances, while others are of inanimate objects - but each has a special bit of 'light' to shine, just like a photograph taken from different angles, or perhaps at different times of the day. Each has something to add.

John, Munoz suggests, has four particular ways in which we might usefully think of God.

God is the relentless seeker.  God comes looking for us "eager to meet us, to embrace us and to lavish his love on us."

Second, there is God as the 'exalter' of human beings. Recognising our value, God wants us to fulfil our potential.

Third is the concept of God as one who loves us. The most relevant image here may be that of a mother.

The fourth of these is God as the 'God of surprises'. We should not make the mistake of thinking that we know what God will do.

We need to be sure that "our images of God are not too small, too limiting, or too constraining. ... God will always be higher and deeper than we think, and always full of new things, ready to surprise us."

If you were to draw a picture of God at this moment, what would it look like? What would you draw - and what does that say about who God is to you at the moment, and also who God is challenging you to be, what God is challenging you to do?

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