Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Good God.

I work in this Children's Program at my church. I am in the year 2-3 class. This term we have talking about some attributes of God. We've covered Love, Peace, Patience, and Goodness. Last nite we learned about the Goodness of God. I have been thinking about the goodness of God for a while, but one thing struck me last nite as my friend, James, taught the lesson. Goodness as defined by God is much different than what it is as defined by us. One of the passages that James had the kids look up was Exodus 33:19-20 where God tells Moses that he may not see His (God's) face, but that Moses will see God's goodness pass before Him. No one may see the face of Goodness and live. It seems that there is a terrible and fearsome side to goodness.

One thing that has always been a comfort to me is the quote from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in discussing Aslan, the god in these books, "Safe! No, He's not safe, but He is good." I've always applied it to my own faith and have aspired to come to grips with a God that is not safe, but whom is good. Interestingly, this same "good" god, Aslan, in another book, The Horse and His Boy, is depicted delivering a little orphan boy to some abusive and reclusive fisherman, wildly chasing and frightening the horses, and attacking the girl in their little band leaving her with scars that will never go away. The reader discovers later Aslan's reasons for all of these things, and is set a little more at ease with him. I know that my God has these same fearsome capabilities. However we may never see His reasons for the things He does. My good God allows babies to starve in Africa, and children to be sold into sex-slavery in Asia. My good God allows hundreds of thousands of people to die in natural disasters. My good God allows 17 year old girls to die in tragic car accidents. My good God could at any moment, take my beloved husband from me. Yet, this same good God has allowed me to meet, fall desperately in love with, and marry my kindred spirit. This same good God has given me the wondrous ability to carry a child, my precious little Sprout. This same good God has sent people to Asia to rescue those little children sold into slavery, and to feed the starving in Africa. My good God, in His terrible goodness, sent His Son, whom He loved more than any human brain can fathom, to die a humiliating, gruesome, and painful death. In His terrible goodness turned His back on this Son whom he loved desperately, and left Jesus all alone on the cross as he was crushed by the weight of the world. His goodness did this to redeem me, and anyone who chooses to believe it.

God's goodness is so much deeper than what I like to see. I like to use the word "good" for ice-cream, and a cute outfit. God sees a much larger goodness than I ever will. The "goodness" of God is not a warm fuzzy thought intended to fill the human heart with nice things. It is a fearsome and awesome thing. It is simultaneously comforting and frightening. This is my good God. My terrible, good God.


Lian said...

Yeah, I think God's goodness is very like the sun to our candles. In the candle we see a very manageable, pleasant and helpful sort of light that allows us to see what we want. In the sun we see true light and it is so much better and yet shockingly uncontrollable and confronting. It burns and blinds us and reveals everything - even that which we would rather not see.
What you're saying is so true, Erika. I think we need to reorient our experience of such words as "goodness" to allow the real goodness to inform our understanding of much lesser goodnesses rather than straining to understand the true in terms of the shadow. (although, maybe that doesn't really make sense - maybe we need the shadows to ever perceive the existence of the true. Perhaps we should discuss this one with ol' Plato)

erk said...

Indeed, young Lian, I always refer to ol' Plato in any spiritual conundrum.

Thanks for leaving me a comment.

Anonymous said...

Maybe this is nothing, but the 20th Century African-American poet and musician, James Brown, often used the phrase 'Good God' in conjunction with the phrase 'Hit me' or 'Can you give me a hit' or even 'Kill it'. Perhaps James and yourself have both tapped into a more 'gritty' sense of God's goodness? A goodness which is less "barbershop quartet" and more "urban angst deep fried funk".

erk said...

Thanks for your comment Mr./Ms. Anonymous. I'm not sure how I feel being compared to James Brown (wasn't he also known as a wife-beater?) That's definitely an interesting thought.

Anonymous said...

A wife-beater, a user of crack cocaine, a bearer of the ugliest, greasiest mop of hair known to humankind. And yet... look at old King David? While (to my knowledge) his hair was probably not anywhere near comparable to that of James Brown, wasn't he in other ways almost a foreshadowing of the "Godfather of Soul"? Isn't itthe Kind David's and the Godfathers of Soul of this world who, for whatever reason, stand witness to a more a nuanced, less naive sense of the goodness, the wonder of the divine? Perhaps being capable (and guilty) of a certain amount of raw, physical cruelty is a prerequisite to being able to break with the candy coated, nursery rhyme, rainbows and butterflies version of divine goodness with which most of us are so taken.

That is to say, aren't we all wife-beaters, really?

crystalsea said...

erica, thanks for writing a blog i can relate to...those guys on chadlys blog make my brains hurt. nice to be able to read real thoughts from the softer side of blogging. loved the pic of you and baby. must be a blissfully happy time. gods goodness is something i will spend the rest of eternity being thankful for. that altho he allows the evil one to mess with our lives,( his motive to kill, steal and destroy,) gods goodness is the wall that keeps us clear of his arrows. as parents, you will learn more about god in the first year of your babes life than you ever knew about him prior to. being a parent is taking a trip into the mind and heart of god. a trip that will change all the talk into gut-level knowing of father/mother love. mcm

eloftis said...

Thanks Claire. Thanks for contributing to our blogs. I always appreciate your insight in all you comments, and your willingness to venture into the wide world of blogging to keep up on us. I love it!