Friday, March 19, 2010

Halt the presses! I made a mistake.

Yes, go on and enjoy it. It may be the only time you see or hear those words from me, but I did. I made a mistake.

Well over a year ago, a cowboy walked into the place where I was working. I looked him over and sized him up pretty quick. He was quiet, took some care in his appearance, and used the word “ma’am” when he spoke to me. All in all a nice guy, who was able to carry on an amusing conversation when he came in. I liked him, but he was a little too clean cut for my tastes, a little too nice. But through a weird series of events, I found out that he isn’t quite what I thought he was. Amazing how quick a Harley can realign your perception of a fellow.

Now we all know that it isn’t right to label people right off the bat. Our mama’s taught us different, or at least she should have tried, but we do. And if it is not bad enough that we do it with people, most of us have a tendency to do it with God. He shows up at the church we attend. He’s kinda quiet, he wears a suit and tie, and he says “ma’am” when he speaks to us. We smile and nod when he talks. His conversations are amusing, entertaining even. He says and does nothing objectionable, but we can’t really work up any type of real excitement about him either. He is just too nice, a little too clean cut, but let me tell you right now, if that is how you see him, you have made a mistake.

You see we think we know this guy called God. We gave him the once over at the door, and we thought we sized him up right. We’ve thought we figured him out. We know how to describe Him. God is love. God is good. God is kind, forgiving, and a million other things made up of puppies and rainbows.
But let me tell you a secret, the person you have figured out is the most boring person on earth. There is no fascination to be found in them. You can’t get excited about who they are and what’s left to discover about them. And until you realize that there is wonder and beauty in walking through the mystery you just won’t take the time to get to know him better.

So maybe it is time that we stopped “knowing” who God is. Maybe we should take a moment to develop a relationship and see what he has to show us. Because he is so much more than our clich├ęs, and he is so much more interesting than the person we thought we knew. It is what makes him infinite. There is always something new to discover, some new exciting bit of information waiting to be revealed, but as long as we are content with our definitions we fail to see how amazing he truly he is.

For some of us, the idea that we may have made a mistake is scary. We like the nice guy God who fits well into our boxes and categories. There is no risk, no danger, and no adventure waiting to be experienced. It is how we protect our hearts, pretending like we know it all, putting nice neat little labels on him so we know the proper response without ever having to feel the emotion. Because a God who can stir our hearts, arouse our passion is a God who can compel us to move in ways that can be terrifying.

Knowing him changes us, because as we realign our understanding of him we have to realign our understanding of who we are. We have to admit that we made a mistake when we sized him up too quickly. We have to confront the reasons why we dismissed him out of hand, and learn some things that aren’t always too pleasant to learn about ourselves. This is the purpose of knowing him, to become more conformed to his image, to be who he created us to be, people full of life, ready to live an adventure shared with him, but we can’t do that until we are realize that he is the adventure.

Does mean that God isn’t loving, kind, good, or compassionate? No, it just means that all of those things go beyond our definition and understanding. He is all of what we know him to be, but he is so much more. So we get the chance to know him, and that only comes through experiencing him. And each experience we share should challenge us to greater levels of faith, deeper expressions of love, and leave us standing in awe of who he truly is.

So the next time you start feeling comfortable with God, maybe even a little bored by him, you might want to take a peek into the garage, because there’s a sweet Harley waiting to be taken for a ride and who knows where it will take you.

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