In this post I’m going to talk about the Divine. I use the word God but I intend it generally as in the God of your understanding. As my friend who is in AA has told me, often times a newcomer will come in to a meeting and say that they don’t believe that there is a God or Higher Power. In those cases, he told me the old timers say, “For now, just believe there is a Higher Power, and it isn’t you! Now go sit down and listen.”
There was a particular moment I had an epiphany about God. It was in the final moments of SuperBowl XLIX, the Seahawks (my home team) were playing the Patriots and in a very unlikely turn of events, had a chance to win. My sister-in-law prayed to my dad, who had just died in a biking accident 3 months before, “C’mon Dick, help us win here.”
I’m sure that my dad would have happily helped the Seahawks win (unfortunately, they lost). He was almost as big of a sports fan as he was faithful servant of God. But my epiphany was – doesn’t the other side have just as many great believers and good people pulling strings for them? Do I actually believe God is in the business to hand out these kinds of favors?
It was then that I realized that my understanding of God is illustrated by what is happening in my life. For all the years I spent as a pastor’s kid, it’s actually been having kids that has taught me the most theology.
Answers to Prayers
“Mama”, my 2 ½ year old said to me while earnestly looking at me with his Wild Blue Yonder eyes (according to the Crayola palette), “Can I have a popsicle for breakfast?”
At this stage in their lives where the world and their worries are pretty small, I have the capacity to provide almost everything my kids wish and pray for—inappropriate foods for breakfast, a puppy, a chicken, and more time watching tv. But I don’t if the request isn’t good for them. I think of a quote from Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore, “Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them.” Because sometimes the answer to prayers is “no.”
God Might Be Non-Denominational
When I need my kid’s cooperation to get something done, like clipping their nails, I will regularly cycle through all sorts of approaches to appeal to them: New Testament (you can clip mine and I’ll clip yours), Old Testament (I command you to come here), logic (If we don’t clip your nails, you could scratch yourself), psychology (you don’t like putting on antibacterial cream more than you don’t like having your nails cut so cut the nails so you don’t need cream), and Zen (let’s just breathe into the resistance and on the outbreath, we’ll clip a nail). It’s sparked the insight that this could be a reason why there are so many sacred texts to guide us. God might not care how we get there as long as we manage to take care of ourselves and others.
Faith and Miracles
My son exclaimed, “I found it,” when his favorite stuffy sitting on the train table. And he did – it was right there after he mentioned it was gone and went off to play with something else. It landed on the table because I diligently looked for it and put it there.
Is it possible that God is helping us find everything that we need and we just need to believe the answer’s right in front of us? And of course, it is right front of us but we just don’t recognize it. Like when my kids ask me to find their shoes and I bring their sandals when they pictured the tennis shoes, and they’ll emphatically say, as if I’m an idiot, “Noooo, my SHOES!”
My daughter went to a co-op preschool. On the days I worked in the classroom alongside her, she was much more insistent about needing things her way. For her, my presence was as an advocate who could get her exactly what she wanted. And when I was not there, she behaved so much more resiliently. If I’m not present, my kids are pretty good at taking care of themselves and yet if I’m near, getting their own glass of water can be over the top. If we ever wonder why God needs to be mysterious, it’s so that we can develop our own resolve to get what we need.
Family, Friends and Love
My life has shifted from being a part of my family of origin, being married with no kids, being divorced with a dog and now to having two kids. In each situation, I’ve had the opportunity to see God where I was. And maybe that’s the ultimate point here, God is found in the love and life we have. As Saint Martin said, “My friends are the beings through whom God loves me.” And we can be a conduit of that love for others any day, in any situation no matter what we understand about God.