Today I thought I’d try something different and write about an easy, breezy, and 100% noncontroversial topic … insert laughter here … so let’s talk about God! What does “God” mean to you? Perhaps more importantly, how does one experience and relate with the Divine? I heard ANY naming of the Divine, including “God”, takes the Spirit’s name in vain because it limits and categorizes the limitless and indefinable. STILL, I think it’s a super interesting and important subject, so let’s talk a bit about God.
First, I invite you to bring to mind someone near and dear to you. What words describe him or her? When I think of my wife Lisa a hundred superlatives come to mind, yet these only hint at who she is. With that in mind, I ask: How much more is God? In the same way that nobody can count to infinity or accurately wrap her/his head around the size, diversity, and speed of the universe, I’ll start by saying words can’t accurately capture the Mystery Who Created Everything. So, as we start from a place of unknowing and humility, recognizing the words below will fall short, I pray they’ll still lead us to a deeper connection with the Divine.
On that topic, in America we have a strong bias toward rational thought, wherein we see and discuss people, things, and God as objects. While this left-brain thinking is fantastic, we’re meant to use both sides of our brain. God is always and forever a subject to be endlessly known, and this subjective manner of relating is a specialty of our right brain.
Something I’ve found especially helpful in this conversation is viewing all the names and labels we have for God as metaphors. Names and words like Spirit, Creator, Parent, God, Maker, Source, Love, Light, and so on, are signposts pointing beyond themselves to help us encounter the Divine. We’re like Alice and they’re like rabbit holes leading us to Wonderland.
A few months ago I heard William Paul Young, the author of “The Shack”, say God is a really good and clear communicator. Since our Creator doesn’t talk to me like my wife does, what does it mean? He also said he believes coincidence has a Name, and I know I’ve personally experienced the blessings of “coincidences” SO many times I’m convinced it’s the Spirit moving. Just this morning I was feeling a bit unsettled and stuck, and I recently found myself questioning whether the work I do (like this) really makes any difference in people’s lives.
This morning the students at my yoga class were especially radiant, encouraging, and grateful, a few saying how much they love my teaching and me. One student gave me a “Thank You, You’re Awesome!” card after class, saying she wouldn’t have made it through yoga teacher training without me (it’s been maybe six months since I helped her). A coffee barista friend I haven’t seen or spoken to in months texted me to say she saw me walking home. Another friend called to say he was driving the car that honked a “hello” to me on the same walk. A book I’m listening to just “happened” to talk about how to get unstuck. While I could easily chalk these up to “coincidence”, I think it’s far more likely they were our Heavenly Parent speaking through people.
This gets at what I find is one of the most useful definitions of God. In the story of Moses and the burning bush, Moses asks for the Lord’s name and is told YHWH (often spelled Yahweh and pronounced Yah-Way). This Hebrew word means “I am”, which means God self identifies as Being or Isness (There’s a great passage in the Book of Acts 17.16-34 that unpacks this). To exist, then, to be, to breathe, and to live is to continuously encounter YHWH. One could say God is Living Presence. We live in a Spirit saturated world, and are constantly breathing in and out God’s goodness. Some rabbis even say YHWH isn’t so much a word we say, as it is the sound of our breath; we inhale “Yah” and exhale “Weh”.
Two other words I find powerful signposts leading us to Source are Light and Love. While not everyone agrees on this, a number of well studied authors/pastors/theologians I trust point out when the Bible says “God is Love” (1 John 4.8, 16) and “God is Light” (1 John 1.5) something unique and significant is going on, in that these are distinctively naming the essence and nature of God. As a dear friend of mine pointed out, this is not to say, “Love is God”, but means universal, unconditional Love that seeks the best for others is as intimately and naturally a part of the Divine as my breath is a part of me. I believe all such enlivening, healing, and transformative Big Love comes from our Source, which means whenever we experience this goodness we’re “tasting” YHWH.
What about just, righteous, judge, and sovereign though, isn’t God also those things? Yes, and again this is my take as echoed by aforementioned Bible geeks, all these things are founded upon and saturated with Divine Love. Let me put it this way, while I’ve been Christian my whole life, for 20-30 years my understanding of God started with the Divine expecting me to be morally perfect, requiring my worship, and demanding my allegiance in order to be loved. This led me to be scared, anxious, self-centered, and selfish. Flipping the script, though, and starting with wild, extravagant, never-ending, unconditional Love has led me to experience God as inviting, gracious, understanding, and beautiful beyond measure, which has not only wooed me into a free and full-hearted worship of and allegiance to the Christ, but also to being more giving, caring, and compassionate to others than I ever thought possible!
I know I’m leaving so much good stuff out, but you didn’t come here to read a book so I’ll land this “plane” with a couple of closing thoughts. My good friend Danny Donohue says God is PowerVUL, as are we since we’re made in the Divine image. What he means is the Maker is both all-powerful and all-vulnerable, which I think meshes well with how Spirit is simultaneously transcendent (i.e. beyond us) and immanent (i.e. intimately with us at all times). We see this beautifully embodied by Jesus the Christ, who I believe was/is YHWH in the flesh. Jesus was a baby who needed feeding from his parents, a man who cried when his heart ached, and a hero who died for us on a cross. It doesn’t get much more vulnerable than that! Yet, the Christ was/is also the Energy, Architect, and Author who designed, created, holds together, and flows through all reality (Colossians 1.15-20, 3.11; John 1.1-14).
Believing and trusting Christ/God is in every one of us, I’ve found one of the best ways to interact with YHWH is within us. I think to “trust your gut” is to heed the wisdom of Spirit speaking to you. Every time I’ve had a major decision and prayed for guidance, the guidance came in either a feeling of peace or unease in my gut. When I’ve followed the peace, things have gone well, but when I ignored the disquiet … NOT so much.
As I type this, it occurs to me the aforementioned intuition in our bellies is Heavenly wisdom, while the messages in our hearts are Divine Love. When we pray, think, and/or feel with our hearts, God pours Big Love into and through us. One way to experience this goes like this: Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, slow and deepen your breath, get settled, drop your brain (i.e. awareness) into your heart, and slowly begin to feel God’s Love filling you on the inhales, and flowing from you on the exhales (be patient and easy on yourself, and it might help to visualize someone you’re sending Love to). Another practice for this is to picture someone who irritates, aggravates, or frustrates you. With eyes closed, take that picture and drop it into your heart. For 5-10 breaths slowly inhale Light around said person. Every time I’ve practiced this it’s radically changed both how I’m feeling in my body and my disposition toward the person for the better.
What are your thoughts? What stood out to you? What would you add? I hope this humble offering leads to a richer and deeper experience of the Divine for you!
If you enjoyed this you can sign up for email notifications of future blogs on the top right. Additionally, I have a Facebook page where I regularly post articles, blogs, quotes, meditations, etc. to encourage us to more Light and Love. Again, to the top right there’s a link for you to “Like” the page, as well as my Instagram account if you’re interested. ❤
MUCH Love and Many Hugs,