Reading one of Alex’s posts, I got inspired.
Some years ago I actively belonged to a large and growing Pentecostal church in NYC’s theater district. We talked a lot about God’s working in our lives.
God’s telling me to…
Thus saith the Lord…
God opened the door to…
God closed the window to…
(God fiddled around a lot with the doors and windows of our lives back then)
Perhaps God did speak to me as directly as I imagined. It sure felt good knowing that I had divine sanction to do what I did, and that I could say no to something asked by a mere human without having to feel bad about it.
Luis: Brother Peterson, we’re getting together on Saturday night to prepare the sanctuary for Sunday service. Can you join us?
Peterson: I’d love to, Brother Luis, but God is calling me to spend time alone with Him in praise and worship on Saturday. Sort of a praise date.
How could Luis possibly counter that?
I heard lots of people talk about their God.
“God took Fluffy out of my life because she had become an idol to me.”
“The Lord demands I make Him my first love & hold off finding a girlfriend right now.”
“God put a barrier in my path and surrounded me with a hedge of thorns.”
“I grieved the Lord and need to seek His presence.”
“I must be careful what I do or else God will take away His anointing on my ministry.”
Many of these statements spoke to me of a deeper commitment to God and holy living. Even today I seek to be open to God’s will. I still value time in worship, living a thoughtful, intentional life.
But I wonder about some of the things I said about God. To the outsider did he come off sounding like a narcissistic control freak? In fact, I wager that if I had a real life friend who treated me the way I professed God treated me, other friends would encourage me to take out a restraining order against him. With my words I made God out to be petty, hyper-sensitive, controlling, demanding and selfish. I slandered God.
Now as a Quaker, I swim with a different school of fish. Many of my Friends never mention God, God’s will, or God’s voice in their lives. God, and Jesus in particular, are taboo subjects among many liberal unprogrammed Friends. (They are very don’t ask; don’t tell when it comes to God.)
Some Liberal Quaker Friends say things like,
I feel a leading to…
Way has opened for me to…
Sorta God in the passive voice. Perhaps these Friends feel it is presumptuous to claim, “God told me,” yet too forward to state, “I want to do this!”
I imagine when Quaker teens hear the Quaker adults talking around God, they might get the notion that God is a shadowy force that provides subtle impressions that lead us to do something we feel passionate about or should feel passionate about.
The image it evokes for me is God as amoeba, without form, transparent, a spiritual glob draped over our souls like one of Salvador Dali’s melted clocks.
So where does that leave me? I live somewhere between the two Gods–the overbearing, anal retentive, vocal God guiding and correcting me every step of the way, and the formless, nameless blob of a God speaking to me about as clearly as one of Charlie Brown’s teachers. (Mwa mwa, mwa mwa mwa MWAAAA)
Know any good Oracles?