I’ve been invited to give the morning Bible study at the summer sessions of our gathered religious body, which Quakers call Yearly Meeting. There aren’t too many of us and they are all friends, so I shouldn’t worry about the opportunity. I also believe that we have divine guidance available to us in a way that is discernible, and on good days I believe I have been led. Yet I find myself all too often focused not on God’s love and care but on fears of my inadequacy.
What we believe (or don’t believe) about God and how we function in relation to God can be different. A friend believed in God as loving, forgiving, and bringing us into peace. But when invited to draw an image of God in relation to some concerns he was experiencing, he drew a person with a monkey on his shoulder dangling a key just out of reach. This was a “God” who held the secret to peace but wasn’t willing to share it. Instead “God” used the key to taunt him and make him frustrated.
What we believe (or don’t believe) certainly impacts us. Another friend believes she is responsible to bring justice wherever she can. She doesn’t believe in a God who acts in the world. If there were such a God, she argues, there wouldn’t be so much pain and suffering. So she works very diligently at doing good.
These limiting images of the Limitless—of which we are aware or not—leave us less able to see and less able to know the joy and love of God. Being able to recognize these often-hidden images from which we function is a step toward the healing of our blindness.
With what image of God did you grow up? How has that changed (or not)? What might blind you to a more life-giving image?
What would it take for your heart and mind to be prepared for an encounter with the limitless God?
“Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge” (Psalm 16:1)
For further reflection:
“Again the Lord called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ ‘My son,’ Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” (See I Samuel 3: 1-10.)
“God gazed down from heaven upon all humanity/ to see whether there existed a person of understanding, / one who was searching for truth” (See Psalm 14). [For this translation, see Pamela Greenberg, The Complete Psalms: The Book of Prayer Songs in a New Translation.]