“You thought God was an architect, now you know
He’s something like a pipe bomb ready to blow…”
Jason Isbell, 24 frames
The story of Christianity, in its literal infancy, goes something like this: Young girl, maybe 12, maybe 14, promised to be married, probably an arranged marriage, gets pregnant, by God’s Spirit, and then, surrounded by the smells of hot manure and the bleating of beasts of burden, gives birth to a child called Jesus. The scandal of God in a diaper; this solidarity of heaven with earth in a moment of absolute vulnerability is staggering. Or at least it should be. Fredrick Beuchner in one of his early sermons says once we have seen God in the manger, “we can never be sure of Him again….never be sure where He will appear, or to what lengths He will go, or to what ludicrous depths of self-humiliation He will descend in His wild pursuit of Mankind.”
It seems, at every turn in History, when people think they have God pinned down and His purposes neatly staked out, He comes busting through their small minds and narrow scopes with a reckless behavior that leaves the senses reeling. Perhaps a very few roughhewn and surly, animal skinned prophets over the millennia have preached this untamed, un-cageable God, but very few of the rest of us have ever been truly comfortable with a God so outside our control. In fact, it might be that modern man, with all of our sophistication and self-reliance, is the least able to resist the urge to make God into an image we can possess. And even among the faithful, God has increasingly been remade into the image of the worshipper. He hates the same people we do. He champions the exact same causes.
When our imaginations, wonder-filled and expansive as they might be, conjure a God that can still fit inside the finite boundaries of our minds, we are still bigger than God. In fact, we have merely made God into the best image we can perceive. The danger in that should be evident, how can we ever be sure that God isn’t just in our imagination? How can a God we can explain ever solve the unexplainable? How can a possible God ever do the impossible?
If you’re the type of person that thinks on these things, if you, your heart and mind have all sorts of existential questions about God, or if God has become safe and tame and altogether ordinary in your mind, then maybe it’s time to unhinge your head and heart. Maybe it’s time to get alone, in nature and silence, and ask God to reveal Himself to you. You have nothing to lose, and perhaps everything to gain. You can say you don’t need God, or want Him, and that’s honest. Might I suggest you don’t have all the information to make an informed decision? Maybe you resist the little God of yours or someone else’s design. Maybe if you meet the pipe bomb that explodes himself into history and hearts you might just find all you’ve ever hoped for.