I have a thoughtful friend…thank God.
Sometimes my meandering thoughts go down a side track and I can’t find my way back to the main road. I get stuck in the potholes and washouts that are in the way and then I miss what is way more significant and life-giving just across the ditch on the road I should actually be on.
So with steam curling from our coffee cups I told my thoughtful friend that I was struggling with the nature of God. I couldn’t get past the inequities in life: some people easily found meaningful employment, others barely eked out a living at whatever they could get; some people had nary a cough in their life, others encountered debilitating illness; some people prayed and divine answers blossomed, others had calloused knees and not a whisper. And don’t get me started on desperate poverty, or warring countries displacing their citizens, or young girls forced into human trafficking.
“What’s with the inequity?” I asked my thoughtful friend. “Are some people more special to God? Are some people just more blessed than others?”
My friend looked at me patiently and said, “Because I believe in a loving God I can’t accept that he would intentionally play favourites or that he loves any of us more or less than the next person.” He got up and brought down from the shelf an artistic rendering he had fashioned out of things collected over the years: a small, planet-looking blue rock sat in sand held in two small wooden cupped hands. The rock, sand and the small hands were then placed in sand held by much larger cupped hands.
“This is how I imagine God,” my thoughtful friend said. “It’s like I am a speck on this beautiful earth all held in the loving hands of a God we each try to explain in our own ways and faiths – it is that God we may believe in and tell stories about – that God we think we know something about. These differing notions of God are like the smaller hands that hold our observed universe and this spinning earth. But our world is only partly seen, perceived and understood by us and any concept of God is going to be limited by our finite abilities, senses, histories and cultures. And, in the end, what we believe or don’t believe about God’s specific character – the smaller hands – is probably incidental beside the fact that a loving, intentional Creator – the larger hands – is there, holding it all together. In his hands are those many things that we may know or not know, breathing life into us as he patiently listens to our debates, bickering and confusion – and that has to be a pretty big act of love on his part. We can choose to believe in what we cannot see and know we do not understand, and sense that creative life force out there that has purpose and cares for each of us, equally. That Spirit is love and only wants us to be as loving. Its mystery is beyond our understanding, yet we can sense it in nature, beauty, truth and in the loving actions of those around us.”
I considered those big hands – holding the small hands and the world – and you and me, the indecipherable specks. I slowly pulled myself off the side road of comparison and inequity and seeming injustice. I needed to cross the ditch and rejoin the main road so that my focus was to lean more into the big hands, the big God who, remarkably, cares for each of us who dot this beleaguered planet. My job is not to explain or debate God’s ways, the apparent inconsistency of gifts and blessings, or to wonder what he may be orchestrating. It’s beyond me. My job is to be encompassed into that everlasting, infinite love and try to reflect it as often as I can into the corners of this world that I trip into each day.
Carried all along in God’s hands.