Your God is too small

I read this classic (JB Phillips) in 1974, about a year after I became a Christian. It survived a major cull of our books, so must have been important. But it was in 2015 after more than four decades as a Christian, I re-read it and realised just how much the title summed me up.

Of course, it's not just me. The traditional evangelical / charismatic / pentecostal view of God's book has led me (and many others) to believe quite differently from our forebears. For example, the dispensational view has only been around since the Scofield Bible in the early 1900s. So much of what I have accepted as true "because the Bible says so" suddenly becomes just one (and by far from the main) option.

Having "heard" from God on maybe a dozen issues specific to me, I was introduced to the almost primitive concept of having a two-way conversation with God. That it works was an unexpected shock - and it is still very much a work in progress. In many ways, I finally graduated from preschool to primary school.

It's been a slow journey. God keeps telling me to slow down and it was some time before I realised He said that a long time ago: "Be still and know that I am God". Even more recently I've come to appreciate that it's not just a temporary slowing down, but a way of life.

His approach to a problem let me get a client job finished. But when I tried the same idea on a second job for the same client, it didn't work. That reinforced what I already "knew": the key is to hear God on everything instead of blindly following "rules". Jesus healed a lot of people of blindness - but each case was different - there was no magic formula. And that applies today. Hearing God is amazing - but it's so easy to blindly move forward without hearing God.

I'll mention one picture - a conversation between two people. Then add in another couple. The conversation is still OK. But if you double it again you start to get the quieter people being quiet. Double the size of the group and if you want all people involved in the discussion you basically have a meeting, with all that entails. And so on.

Now imagine me having a conversation with God. Exciting, new, amazing. Then multiply that by an odd eight billion. Now each person on earth doesn't have a conversation with God - but God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) has a conversation around each person - as well as whatever else is going on in His world. That's where thinking about God in human terms is totally inadequate.

So I'm still very much learning - firstly to hear and secondly to soak in what God says. I still operate very much as I have always done - but I am changing. Some might say about time - and I can't disagree. It frustrates me that I spent so much of my life so far from God and that the habits of a lifetime are deeply ingrained.

When I try to speed up my progress God reminds me that I used to bite my fingernails. It was after I had been a Christian a while that I tried - many times - to give up - without success. Finally, I accepted defeat - I couldn't change it so gave up trying. One day I realised my nails could do with a trim.

I still don't understand what happened, and in itself, it's not a big thing. It shows that sometimes we need to step back and leave it to God. That's not to say we shouldn't do what God says - but in hindsight that was an issue for me - not for God at that time.

 

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Last modified: 28 November 2020.