I grew up in a church that had a clear and precise definition of who God is. We gathered together every week to worship God and celebrate Him. We sang songs with words like, “let me tell you who Jesus is”. The very fabric of our lives were woven together by our definition of Him. We had a long list of things we had to do and a long list of things we should never do, just to please God. We embraced the lists and we felt good. We were safe, we were on the straight and narrow. We held the corner market on God.
But there was a secret I kept hidden. There was a deep undercurrent running below everything I believed to be true about God. This undercurrent was rushing and eroding me away. This undercurrent was fear:
What if I am wrong about God? What if I spend my whole life striving for God only to get to the other side and hear Him say, “I never knew you”. What if I am standing in the wrong God corner?
When I was four months pregnant with our first child, Matt and I did the unthinkable. We left our church and went to another church. It wasn’t a switch like, we don’t like the way this preacher preaches, or we don’t like the way the music sounds. No, we declared we didn’t agree and we moved to a different God corner.
Suddenly, we were immersed into a church culture who still loved Jesus, but defined God in a whole different way. The old list of “dos” was now on their “don’t have to” list and our old “don’ts” now became “go for it”. To put it simply, the steps to please God were reversed, yet, we were still worshipping and celebrating the same exact God. We felt good, we were safe, just in a different corner.
It didn’t take long before I felt the same rushing fear, eroding deep inside again.
What if I am still wrong about God?
Having stood in both corners of the God market, left us standing somewhere in the middle. I could see the truth in both definitions, but how can both be right?
As one standing in a house of cards, my God world began to fall apart around me. As I spun around looking for some truth to grasp on to, I didn’t see just two God corners, but infinite corners shouting, “We know who God is!”
Except, the more I tried to define the Infinite, the more I couldn’t define Him.
It’s like a glass of water defining the ocean, and then that glass of water standing up and declaring, “Ocean, I understand you!”
Sure, the fluid inside of that glass is the same fluid as the sea. That’s because the Sea is inside of me, so we display the same properties, we move the same way, and reflect the same image, but I am not the one who defines the Infinite. It is the ocean who defines me, changes me, and engulfs me. He is who he is, powerful and strong — confident in who he is. I am just a piece of the infinite, and he’s the one who calls me out by name and tells me, “I understand you.”
That’s when he began to define me with Love.
I read a scripture tucked away somewhere near the back of the Bible,
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. Perfect love casts out fear. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
Love. And not just any love — Perfect Love.
Since, we can best understand the dynamic of humanity and God by looking at the dynamic of a family unit, I gave a questionnaire to my children, asking them to answer some questions about their daddy. They were so excited, and took the activity very serious. Charis even wrote her answers in rainbow.
When I asked Christian, “What’s Daddy’s name?”
His answer? “I don’t know.”
He proceeded to tell me his daddy is 10 years old, as big as a Ninja Turtle, and has purple eyes, but when I asked him what was his favorite thing to do with daddy, he answered, “hug and kiss.” He loves his daddy because he knows his daddy loves him.
You see, not one of my children’s answers defined Matt. Matt is confident in who he is, so his children’s perception of him does not move him. Matt wasn’t hurt or angry when he read that Charis thinks he’s as big as a refrigerator. He was not stunned to find that each of his children disagree on his favorite color.
But rather it’s Matt who defines our children. Matt is the one who wraps his arms around each of them and says, “I love you, no matter who you think I am.”
In this love, they feel complete.
So, just like my children, I may think God’s eyes are purple, or that he’s only 10 years old. I may not even know his name, but one thing I do know, God is love.
And Perfect Love casts out all fear.