Sunday, May 5, 2013

In My Image

Steffen was having one of those mornings.  He has a lot of those mornings.  See, Steffen likes to be in control.  He has definite ideas about how the world should be, and when things don't go his way- well, let's just say he doesn't give in without a fight.

It was Sunday and I decided that since we were going to be at church all afternoon setting up for evening activities, it made more sense to go to the late service.  Now, changing the schedule when you have kids is always a tricky undertaking.  "But, Mom, when are we leaving?"  "We're going to be late!"  "Why are we parking over here?"  "How come we have to go to Sunday school first?"  "What if you forget to pick us up?" "Mom, when are we leaving?"  It's not something I do frequently.  The questions just drive me crazy.

So, on this morning, I was already on shaky ground with Steffen.  Then, when we got to church, I forgot to let him climb out my door of the van.  He does this at home because our driveway is steep, but now, he thinks he has to do it everywhere.  This resulted in several minutes of threats and negotiations.  I finally scooped him up and carried both him and his brother into church.

Here, we encountered our next obstacle:  the nursery name tags.  The printer prints one long line of tags for each child in the family.  There's always a debate over whose turn it is to hand out the name tags.  Carsten has given up on this one, and all he asks is to be able to take his own tag off.  Steffen, though, refuses to settle for this compromise.  HE is in charge of the tags and HE gets to hand out EVERY ONE of them.  The meltdown was inevitable.

I marched him into the bathroom and got down on his level.  "Steffen, Carsten gets his own tag and that's final."

Steffen stomped his foot emphatically, "But, Mom, God wants ME to hand out the tags on Sunday morning!"

I was still grinning when I left my recalcitrant little guy with the wonderful and patient nursery workers, who weekly add more jewels to their eternal crowns.

A divine appointment.  Interesting how God's will coincides so neatly with Steffen's own wishes.

But the fact is, my three year old acts a lot like me and many other people I know.  We decide what we want God to be like and what we want Him to do, and then we attempt to squeeze Him into our box.  We want to be in control.  We want things to go our way.  In short, we create God in our own image.

Awhile ago (January 20th, to be exact), our pastor preached on just this topic.  We don't have to have gold statues sitting around our house to be idol worshipers.  All we need to do is have a skewed idea of who God is- an idea that doesn't line up with Scripture- an idea that, while it allows us to fulfill our own wishes, doesn't acknowledge that the God we serve does what He wills without asking us for permission. 

Have you ever found yourself saying (or thinking) things like these:  "I like to think of God as...." or "In my mind, God..." or "I don't believe that God would..."?  When we allow ourselves to begin imagining God a certain way, a way that makes us more comfortable, we are entering dangerous territory.  God, like Aslan in Narnia, is good, but not "tame."  He is not ours to control.  We don't get to make the rules or hand out demands.  Many of the requirements God has are hard; many of our own requests go unfulfilled.  It's easy to ascribe our own thoughts, biases, and wishes to God, whether or not what Scripture says supports our thinking.

God is "my God" only in the sense that I have chosen to give Him the glory and obedience that is rightfully His.  (Psalm 29:2)  He is not "my" God that I can mold and shape to my preferences.  It's not about me.

Any God that I would create would not be wonderful, or terrible, or powerful enough to do what I need God to do.

"There is none like you, O Lord..
Who would not fear You, O King of the nations?
For this is Your rightful due...
A wooden idol is a worthless doctrine...
They are the work of skillful men.
But the Lord is the true God;
He is the living God and the everlasting King."
From Jeremiah 10  

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