Saturday, April 16, 2011

God's incomprehensibility

Incomprehensible (in-kom-pri-hen-suh-buhl) -adjective

  1. Impossible to understand or comprehend

  2. Limitless; not limited or capable of being limited

If you have not yet read Donald Miller's Through Painted Deserts, I suggest you stop reading this blog post and pick up the book immediately. It's SUPER good. And I'm not quite even a third of the way through the book! You know what that means, reader, right? It means it's definitely worth your time.

Here's why I can be only about a third of the way through the book and squeal about how amazing the book is: I got to chapter five.

"Oooh, chapter five. I totally understand," you say in your head sarcastically with a laugh. I'm telling you, out of what I've read so far, chapter five completely is mind-blowing. As in, while I was reading the chapter, my head hurt because my mind was blown like six times in a matter of a page or so. I found myself actually overwhelmed with emotion and questions and I was screaming in my head, "God, whaaaaaat!?"

Allow me to direct quote, please (if you're not interested in spoilers, then go pick up the book, because this is huge, good stuff):

In the Hebrew tradition, which splintered off into the Christian tradition, which is how I was raised, light is a metaphor. God makes a cosmos out of the nothingness, a molecular composition, of which He is not and never has been, as anything is limiting, and God has no limits. In this way, He isn't, and yet is. The poetic imagery is rather beautiful, stating that all we see and feel and touch, the hardness of dense atoms, the softness of a breeze (atoms perhaps loose as if in play) is the breath of God. And into this being, into this existence, God first creates light. This light is not to be confused with the sun and moon and stars, as they are not created until later. He simply creates light, a nonsubstance that is like a particle and like a wave, but perhaps neither, just some kind of traveling energy. A kind of magnetic wave. Light, then, becomes a fitting metaphor for a nonbeing who is. God, if like light, travels at the speed of light, and because space and time are mingled with speed, the speed of light is the magic, exact number that allows a kind of escape from time....Consider the complexity of light in light of the Hebrew metaphor: we don't see light, we see what it touches. It is more or less invisible, made from nothing, just purposed and focused energy, infinite in its power (it will never tire if fired into a vacuum, going on forever). How fitting, then, for God to create an existence, then a metaphor, as if to say, here is something entrely unlike you, outside of time, infinite in its power and thrust: here is something you can experience but cannot understand. Throughout the remainder of the Bible, then, God calls Himself light. (Miller 60-61)

Dear reader, when I went to bed after reading this passage, I realized that I finally understood what it meant to fear God, as they say in the Bible. Before, I just thought of it either as being in awe or as being scared witless. Now, I understand, but can hardly describe what it is, what I feel, but I know it's what it means to fear God, a God who is completely outside of everything and who Himself is not made of anything because He created everything we know!!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Celebration of Hope antics

So my church does this thing called Celebration of Hope, pretty much something where, as a church, we come together to try to raise awareness for global hunger issues and make an effort to do our best to fight global hunger. This leads to seed packing (where you volunteer for an hour or so and either scoop vegetable seeds into an envelope or seal said envelope), donating money (which goes towards equipping people with better housing, better technology, etc.), and the rice-and-beans challenge. Oh boy. What is this challenge exactly. It's technically a fast. The essential idea is to live for five days off of less than $2 a day by consuming beans, rice, and oatmeal in small portions. So, for five days (except for dinner on the fifth day), you get a packet of instant oatmeal for breakfast, rice and beans for lunch, and rice and beans again for dinner. And you drink tap water only. It's now day 4. I have never wanted to eat rice and beans any less than I do now. I even gave in last night to temptation and had sweets at like 9pm (granted, they didn't taste that great because my tummy wasn't used to the food I was putting in it), because I am so sick and tired of rice and beans! asdfghjkl;' (<-- mental frustration) And yes, I was disappointed in myself a bit afterward because I was doing relatively well with the fast. But none of this is the point of this blog post. In fact, what God recently taught me far outweighs the fact that I gave in to temptation, and perhaps God used this temptation as a test rather than true temptation, thus He helped me learn from it. So, the point: We humans are weak. I can tell you that and you might not realize it for a long time, but it's true. We're so easily swayed and persuaded and tempted and convinced. In fact, when we are trying to do something that goes against the instant gratification that society tends towards, we really have a hard time doing it out of our own strength. That's why, dear reader, we need to stop doing such things out of our own strength and doing them our of God's. God grants us access to His strength. It's one of the wonderful gifts we recieve when we become His children. That's definitely not to say that we'll be tempted any less; in fact, we might become even more tempted! But with His strength, we know for a fact that we can overcome such temptation. Why do I say that God used my temptation as a test? I think the test He was given to me was one titled Using God's Strength to Overcome Temptation. As I told you, I didn't exactly pass this one, and I consumed delicious confections that made my tummy hurt a little. But upon prayer and just listening for God's voice to learn what He was trying to teach me (because I had gotten really nothing from Him up until that point), He pointed this out to me and revealed that it was a test to me. And then, when wondering if I should continue with the fast or just give up, this verse floated into my mind: 1 Timothy 6:8 = "Fight the good fight of the faith..." That first part, "fight the good fight," in this particular situation means that I need to see this beans-and-rice challenge through to the end, doing the best that I can as a way to glorify God and understand all that He wants me to understand through this challenge. While finishing up my beans and rice tonight (and feeling awfully, awfully tired of eating them), I realized too that hey, at least I have food. At least I'm not starving. But people all over the world are. I've got the feeling that I'm going to pray differently with respect to my meals after this challenge. One more portion of oatmeal and one more portion of beans and rice to go!!!