A Glorified and Fulfilled Humanity
I have been listening to the audio book of “A History of God” by Karen Armstrong and am struck by the repetitive nature of man’s quest to become more than we are. It would seem that since the beginning, man has strived to attain godliness - power over our circumstances and fallen state by means only restricted by our imaginations. The thought that we need to believe in something greater than ourselves to transcend our own experience, a hope of a greater good, a belief in a place of eternity where there is no death, a connection with a powerful being that loves us, protects us and carries us through the pain and travails of life, seems universal and as deeply imbedded as our DNA.
But therein lies the trap. The first Biblical account of man trying to establish his own religion is found in the building of the Tower of Babel. “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (Gen. 11:4) It then says that God came down to see the city and tower that they were making. I can just imagine Him coming down to look it over, impressed but saddened by their rebellion to come up with a religion that they made and controlled. It must have been a dangerous turning point in history, because God stepped in to stop them saying, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.” Again, God knows so much more than we do. He could have sent an earthquake and caused the tower to tumble, He could have caused their bricks not to dry in the sun, giving them nothing to build with, but He did something far more dramatic, far more reaching into the future. He assured that they couldn’t communicate, confusing their language so they could no longer understand each other. This effectively put a stop to a whole race of unified people starting a religion – for a time. It was only the beginning of our (and Satan’s) efforts to place other gods before Him.
Man invented gods they could understand, relatable with every-day life – gods of fertility, gods of war, gods of health, gods of life after death, gods of nature, tribal gods and household gods. Imagine living your life trying to please all these gods, trying to gain their favor so that they could affect the circumstances of your situation. Imagine the sacrifices (possibly your own children), the fear, the emotional ups and downs depending on whether or not you were “doing it right” so that they might notice you and move something in some heavenly realm for your sake. Is anyone else thinking . . . slavery?
In listening to this CD, I have been struck by my own compulsion to manipulate my God, Jehovah. This last year has been a real test of faith and patience for me, waiting, waiting, waiting for what I hope and believe is my calling to come into being. I’ve had moments of peace and days of doubt, times of faith and times of hopeless, depressive thoughts. As I’ve lived these up and downs, I am horrified to realize that I behave no differently than these previous races. That I have changed God into a god. I’ve begged and fasted, prayed and sprawled face-down on my bedroom carpet in an effort to make Him who I wanted Him to be for me at the time. God help me, God fix this, God intervene on my behalf (in the way I think He should), God take away this trial, God pacify me with some scrap of encouragement. As usual, my thinking is upside down and based on my emotions at the time. Instead, I should be praying, Your will be done, thank-you for never leaving me or forsaking me, Lord I will trust You, I will keep my eyes on You, I will follow You.
Our God, the one true God, is nothing like the false gods of past and present generations. He can’t be manipulated and controlled because He has something that none of those other gods have. Our God is Love. He is love. He . . . is . . . love. The essence of love, the look of love, the feel of love, the sovereignty of love, the majesty of love, the glory of love, an incomprehensible Being of love. His love is beyond anything our imaginations could ever fathom or craft or reach. His love is worthy of our trust. And, for reasons I don’t know, He decided to create us . . . to create me. He is my Creator. I don’t have to manipulate this God of love to move heaven and earth on my behalf. He already has. I just have to believe in it. And if those people in the past could bow down and worship a golden calf, something I know doesn’t have any power because it was created lower than man, then why do I struggle to believe in an all knowing, all powerful, all loving maker of me.