Ask my family and friends, and they will tell you this about me: any time, any place, and any day is a good one for a conversation about God. Well, good for me at least. Though I always love to dig deep and ask the hard questions, I've learned that such discussions are not always welcomed at birthday parties and breakfast tables (unless you want awkward silences). But whether I verbalize my crazy thoughts or not, my wheel of contemplation is always spinning, and I suspect God thinks it's funny.
Let me state this clearly: I am a homemade, hand-spun theologian. I was not manufactured in the finest academic institution and cannot interpret ancient languages like many of my friends. And for some reading this post, my skills as a professional musician hardly qualify me to ask a question as lofty and far-reaching as "Who is God?" let alone answer it. And you're right. Theological scholars, monks, and tribal leaders from every generation and every religious tradition have embarked on a quest to provide good answers. I certainly will not try to compete with them here. But I'll add my two pennies for fun.
As a teenager, I remember driving to lunch from church each Sunday (usually to Luby's or Piccadilly's) and debriefing with my family about what the preacher presented. My dad would ask questions like, "What did you think of the sermon?" and "Did you agree with what was preached?" Dad, can't we just count how many blue cars we see drive by, like a normal family?
Now as an adult, I appreciate those early conversations. I discovered answers in asking the right questions. Why do people even want to know who God is? Where did the idea of God come from? And why hasn't anyone, for all time and in all arguments, answered these questions conclusively? Surely, if we as humans have the mental or spiritual capacity to satisfy all of these questions, we would have done so by now. Maybe the better way, instead of striving for perfect answers, is to discover which simple questions matter the most.
That's when I discovered a much better question that changed my life: Who is God to me? "To me" is a simple addition to the original question but changes everything. As a result, I'm no longer dancing around philosophical ideals; I'm diving into issues of the heart. I wonder, probably like you, why there is so much suffering and hatred in the world and in my life. Will we ever find the answers?
To avoid sinking into endless apologetics and get to the point, I'll assert here that if God is real, God is also, by definition, beyond me. (Whoa! I know that was a large leap. Read this to learn more). If God were on my level, it would be so much easier to quantify God's existence, character, and intentions. But if God is even one notch above me, I'll need help from someone on that level to fully grasp who and what God is.
Over the last 30 years, I have asked "Who is God to me?" and found much peace and stability in these three statements:
1. It takes just as much faith to be believe God exists as it does to disbelieve.
2. If God is real, then God is higher than me by definition and must be revealed to me by God or someone on God's level
3. If God has intention and character traits, then God is a person to know, not an idea to study.
These statements are not necessarily airtight conclusions or perfectly chronological; they are simply starting points for discussion. At this point, a few more questions should come up: How is God revealed? How do I receive that revelation? How can I be sure of what I believe?
Wow. We've just scratched the surface today. Tomorrow, we'll dive deeper into these questions and discover some exciting truths. Until then, hold on to this incredible promise:
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)