It’s time to continue our conversation unpacking the snapshot of my personal theology, using the tools and guidance of the Discourse curriculum. If you are new to the conversation, check out the introduction post to the series. As has been the practice, I will share in the indented text below what I shared with the Discourse class. Following that, I will offer further thoughts, wondering, questions, and ideas unpacking my thoughts and claims. These thoughts will be unique to this post.
So, without further delay, here is the fourth post in the series, my reflections on God Guides:
God is omnipotent.
But God also chooses to be in relationship with creation, and thus I believe God limits God’s power in order to be able to be in authentic relationship with us.
As part of this, God promises to be with creation and to redeem it.
For example, Isaiah 43 rings loudly to me about this. “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God…Because you are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you…Do not fear, for I am with you…” (from Isaiah 43:1-7, NRSV)
I believe that God is all powerful. Therefore, God can do anything, really. But, I believe that God chooses to limit those powers in order to be in relationship with us and with creation. If there was no choice to limit those powers, there would be no hope of a true relationship. Rather, it would be a completely top-down, hierarchical God and we would be basically God’s ants. This is the idea for me of both a Hierarchical God, or even a God who uses a magnifying glass on an ant hill. Others would describe this as a concept of “Hierarchical Holism.”
In contrast to this, I believe God wants to be in relationship with us where we can come to God and God to us, in a multi-directional function and mutuality (or community). To me this is tied so closely to the promises that God has made and continues to make. These promises include that of love and the hope of eternal life, salvation, redemption, and reconciliation, not to mention the idea of Emmanuel- that God is with us. They also echo the ideas which come to mind for me especially in Isaiah 43 as quoted in part above.
In reflecting on this from a personal standpoint, since graduating from Luther Seminary two years ago, the emotional roller-coaster of job searching, applying and not receiving an interview and all that that entails has been a great challenge. There have been times where doubt and despair have crept in. But my wife has been there every step of the way, as have my family and friends and lots of people I continue to meet in my network. They are pulling for me, and through each conversation I feel and am reminded that God is with me, loves me, and I have been called by name through baptism. This reminder helps pull me out of the moments of doubt, and reaffirms me in my sense of call, discernment, and overall belief that God is with me and is using me and will use me in my vocations.
To provide some further ideas unpacking and thinking about the idea of “God guides” let’s think in terms of music. Musically this brings to mind many different songs and hymns for me. But two standout today. One, preferably a jazzy version of “Just a Closer Walk with Thee.” This song speaks to me ideas of accompaniment and guidance, where God journeys with us and promises to be with us, and simply, is with us. The other, is more of a funk type contemporary song called, “Eat Right.” This was the most fun song to play in a worship band that I helped lead for quite a long time. It reminds that we are “standing on the promises.” This standing is on the ultimate promise that God lives, God loves, and God is for us and with us guiding us and journeying with us.
What do you think? What does it mean to you and for you that God guides?
The next post in this series will unpack some more about the idea that “God loves.” Until then, I look forward to your thoughts and the continued conversation.