God Who is Unexpected

It’s a week after Easter, and I haven’t posted since before Palm Sunday.

Mea culpa.

I chose not to give anything up for Lent this year, but focused instead on adding things to my life.  I started attending church (somewhat) regularly again.  I tried to be more faithful about prayer.  Somewhere along the line, I developed a weekly habit of sitting on my tiny balcony with a cup of tea or a glass of wine, a lit candle, and a journal, just to see if God has anything to share.

I’m finding that God is not what I expect.

I grew up in church.  I should know how this goes by now.  God is a well-educated white man with a temper, right?  Except that every time I go sit on my balcony, I realize something else that doesn’t quite fit.  One week, I wrote a journal entry about what it would be like to see God as Mother and wept the whole way through.  Another week, I pondered the beatitudes and wondered what it meant that all of these blessings were for those who had lost or were lacking.  The God I’ve always looked for is not the one I’m finding, and it’s strangely comforting.

This pattern is pretty obvious in the Bible.  We expect God to want a fancy house.  He prefers to live in a tent.  We expect God to appear in wind and earthquake and fire.  He shows up as a still, small voice.  We expect God to be born as a king.  He comes as the bastard son of a carpenter.  We expect to find God hanging out with the “holy” people of the day.  He parties with corrupt businessmen and hookers.  We expect that God loves the rich best because he has blessed them the most.  Instead, we find that it is almost impossible for a rich man to enter God’s kingdom.

In some ways, this is not the God I want to know.  I want God to be something that I can understand.  I want to be able to quantify what he expects of me, to make a list of rules I must follow and codes to which I must adhere.  Instead, I find a God who is smudged and fuzzy, who is so massive that he stretches away from one thing only to come back and encompass it.

As a high school senior, I took calculus.  I remember drawing a graph, its first and second derivatives, and its integral on top of each other and trying to see all of the relationships at once.  It was this big, complicated idea that I could understand in pieces but that I wanted to understand as a whole.  It felt like too much to wrap my head around sometimes, but in the moments when I could, it was absolutely gorgeous.

God is like that.  I can’t actually understand God.  I can only pick apart the facets and hold them up against each other and wonder what it all looks like together.  But in the moments when I glimpse something larger, it’s absolutely gorgeous.


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