How can I trust? How can I believe I matter?
I was confronted by these questions recently in the form of a good friend, one who has gone through traumatic events. They got me thinking because we all struggle with these questions at some level. We may never have been abandoned or abused or betrayed, yet we have all experienced broken promises and the failure of something that we looked to for comfort. A parent, a spouse, a job, or own ability to handle things: they all fall short. So as we experience the reality of broken promises, we struggle to believe and rest and live in the reality of God’s love for us in Christ.
We know too well the conditional nature of earthly love and comfort and can not come to grips with what we claim, that God is different. Nothing in our experience or our lives fully prepares us for his love.
There lies our problem: our thoughts of God are too human, too far short of the reality of who he is. We react to him in much the same way we would if we got into a car that drove itself. We reach for a wheel to steer and stomp the floor in a desperate attempt to brake. This is what we do with God. We keep reaching out to control, to put him into a box that we can grasp, to make him act like everybody else.
Isaiah 40 includes one of the greatest studies of the attributes of God in all of Scripture. It follows the call to God’s people to be heralds of good news, to cry to the people, “Behold your God!” This is God’s answer through Isaiah (and throughout Scripture): to behold him. See him for who he is and rest in that reality. He continually cries out to us that he is not like anything else, that we can not treat him like anything else, that nothing else compares to him. And when our thoughts of him are too human, we fall and fail even though he does not.
But beholding our God is not just about our comfort and peace in knowing his love for us. It is also about making him visible in this world. It is about proclaiming who he is to ourselves and to all around us. We do this by how we love one another and by reaching out to our community.
This is why we continue to be involved with the Root Cellar and are hosting their neighborhood block party later this month. It is why we are watching and praying and participating in getting Safe Families up and going here in Androscoggin and Oxford Counties. It is why we’re excited to see Colleen heading to New Jersey and Elsie and Tom heading to Uganda on missions trips this summer.
And this is also why we step up to love each other through the messiness of life. As Jesus says, By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (John 13). So we watch children or mow lawns while folks are in the hospital or recovering from surgery. We give up some time on Sunday to pick up an elderly person and bring them to church. We listen, and cry, and laugh, and get messy together, so that we may behold our God.