Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What does God look like?

When (if) you get an image of God in your mind, how do you imagine Him?

Like this?

or this?

or even this?
While I'm a bit uncomfortable admitting it, my mind's eye has pictured God in all of the above ways. (Not when I'm praying -- when I pray I tend to see the face of Jesus, which is a subject best left to another blog post.) But until today, I have never pictured God looking like this:
That is, until I checked my email today and read a prayer request that was posted on a prayer chain. In the original, unedited version of this post, I simply cut and pasted the prayer request. But because I am feeling terribly convicted about sharing a prayer request that was not meant to become fodder for some cynical blog post, I'll just give you the basics. The author of this prayer request began by stating, "There are things I want." His wish list included: a great career, a great marriage to a wonderful woman, awesome martial art skills so that he could protect the woman God may give him, a great income and a great family. He asked that those reading his request would pray that these blessings be given to him so that he could experience said blessings.
My initial reaction was, "Are you kidding me?!" I even forwarded the request to a friend saying as much. But, as I mentioned, I felt convicted and incredibly uneasy about simply raking this guy over the coals without stopping to consider what the circumstances of his life might be. Who am I to judge what blessings God may choose to bestow on him or anyone else for that matter? I actually stopped typing, turned off my computer and prayed for forgiveness. While God may determine that this man's heart needs to be changed, I realized that it is the condition of my own wretched heart that requires further examination. (*Smile* -- I love that word "wretched". Jake - if I ever write a book entitled "My Wretched Heart", I intend to give you a portion of the proceeds. But I digress.) Why did I feel compelled to share this man's prayer? Was it because it made me feel superior to him; miles ahead of him on the road of my Christian walk? Yes. I think that's it. And if that's the case, am I not missing Paul's point when he writes in Philippians 2:
If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Um...Ouch! So, with an attitude adjustment that only face time with God can achieve, I am grateful that God's grace is extended to all of us, and I am reminded of Jesus' instructions on how to pray:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for
ever. Amen.

I am going to end this post and pray that the author of this prayer request finds comfort and peace in the arms of the Savior whose grace is sufficient; whose power is made perfect in our weakness. Also, I need to pray for God to remove this giant plank from my eye...


Kris said...

hey you,

i did a post a couple of months back called

what does Jesus look like?

i took it from Revelation 1:12-18

i guess like minds...

btw: you item sold. i will give you a check wed night for $158 and i will give you your item boxed up so you can mail it. the total was $172 ($160 plus $12 ship) but the pay pal fee, insert fees and final value fees ate up $14 bucks

Beth said...

Good point. As usual. I received a similar email recently from someone I went to college with. Now I know why it bugged me. Open eyelid. Remove plank. Repeat. The weirdest part about it? I bet he never would judge ME like that. He would just pray for me.

Anonymous said...

For a long time, I pictured God as the "Christ the Redeemer" statue that crowns Corcovado Mountain in Rio.

Sherri said...

I'm impressed that you stopped right then to pray for forgiveness, to remove the plank.
I realize that it was probably hard to type and concentrate with that big PLANK in your eye, but still, I more than likely, would have deleted it and thought, "Good luck with that"!

You'd be surprised what people will attempt with large planks in their eye! That's why they don't see things clearly, there's a big plank in the way! Trust me I know from personal experience.

I needed this this morning.
Funny thing is, I always go to the withoutwax.tv post first thing--today I chose yours.

I think God might be trying to tell me something and I'm starting to notice this large wooden object...

Helen said...

I know what you mean. I have prayed the same sort of prayers, but usually a little at a time. As if a little at a time was somehow better. In a way, it's worse, because it almost suggests a limit to God's power. Something else I am guilty of doing all the time. I usually won't pray for anything else in the same session I pray for my friend's recovery from cancer (no more Chemo, btw :-) ) or when I pray to have a child, even though doctors say not gonna happen. I limit these big requests to one prayer at a time. As if I could overwhelm God with my needs! Oh well, I seem to have traveled off top. God bless you!

Anonymous said...

Me too... I do that all the time. I'm like, the religion police in my own head. And then God takes another opportunity to show me my own wretchedness for judging others. Whether I'm right or wrong in my assessment, my heart is in the wrong place.

Max02 said...

Good save from the "I'm-holier-than-though" reply to his request.

As Christians it's SO easy to respond to people in a way that discourages rather than encourages.

Should people treat God as an all-powerful genie ready and waiting to give us things when we pull him out of his lamp and then put him back in for use at a later time? Of course not. But should we as Christians blast them with "righteous" correction? I've learned, personally and have seen, that the answer should be no.

We're all wretched, all imperfect. I'm all for correction, don't get me wrong. I'd just rather be corrected in love by someone who isn't coming to me from on top of a "high horse," so to speak.

Good call on the Philippians 2 scripture. I think it sums up the whole though process quite nicely.

Matt @ The Church of No People said...

Hey, good post. I totally agree with your thoughts, but my reaction is more like, 'yeah I want those things too!' I've been a Christian all these years, and I still want lots and lots of stuff.

katdish said...

kris - thanks, I'll check it out; and thanks for selling Cameron's stuff. If that kid asked me one more time if it was up on ebay yet I was going to lie to him and tell him it sold for a dollar. Not really, but I was very tempted.

Beth - Ow, that's gotta sting the old conscious a bit, and I think we've all felt that way.

Laz - Seriously? I kinda picture that statue looking down at all those buildings and the pollution and saying "What in the name of Me is going on down there?" (3,2,1...no lightning strikes - whew!)

Sherri - Don't be impressed. You'd probably be fairly appauled at my pharisaical first draft. However, feel free to be impressed with my use of the word "pharisaical".

Helen - Funny you should mention separating prayers. I do the same thing. I forget that we are made in His image, not vise-versa, so I don't want to mention too much, because I know my ADD mind couldn't handle too many things at once. Just reading this statement as I type makes me feel ridiculous.

Angela - Yeah, that's EXACTLY how I felt. But often I think "whether I'm right or I'm wrong in my assessment -- even though I'm probably right". (Ugh!)

Max - Dude, write a blog post already! Loved your comment and your insight. (no pressure, though.)

Matt - stuff is way over-rated. I've got too much stuff. So much so that I have to have my friend Kris sell some of it on ebay. But I get your point. And BTW, thanks for the comment. It's kinda cool to get a comment from a pastor. I know of at least 2 that read my blog BUT NEVER LEAVE A COMMENT! (You know who you are...)

I look forward to reading another post from you -- you crack me up.

Annie K said...

Great post Katdish. We all could use a little more humility and less judgementalness - speaking for myself of course!

When I started reading the basics of the prayer request, my initial response was kind of like yours(I'm waiting for lightning to strike) because while those things are lovely, that's not always God's plan. But you are right, we don't know that man's heart or what God has for him. Maybe he's young and has big dreams and our job is to pray that He would seek God's direction in His life and to grow in maturity.

Hmmmm...lots to take from the post!

JML said...

Good post. I really like to think that God looks like the old man who's name I never remember, but that just sounds like a loaded statement there.... and truthfully, I know Jesus wasn't white, but I imagine Him as being such, isn't that pathetic? And I got into that same thing the other day, I had a couple of friends ask me to officiate at their wedding (they don't know any 'religious people' other than me), and I (still) don't want to because I jumped on that judgment thing and feel like they won't take it seriously. I'm not even kidding, it's AWKWARD right now..... blech.

Christine said...

I think many folks probably had the same initial reaction to this request, myself included. For me, I think it's a reaction not to the particular person who left the request, but to the health/wealth & "name it/claim it" gospel that leaves God's will out of the picture. The prosperity gospel gets tiresome, doesn't it! And so many are led astray b/c it feeds right into our "old self".
The point is, there are many people who would love God and who truly want to know him, but they haven't been taught accurately yet (Acts 18:24-28) b/c they are watching the tv gospel!

One thing is certain, when we receive a request, we are not obligated to pray the actual request, but we are obligated to pray for our brothers and sisters in accordance with God's will. Therein is the passion and excitement of intercession!

So, please, everyone who might read this and who knows me, the next time I ask you to lift something in prayer, DO NOT feel bound to ask God for the words "I spoke". Lift my request to the Lord in the direction that He leads you for His will. And I thank you and promise I am doing the same for you. :)

katdish said...

Dang, Christine! You're just scary smart...