I don’t believe in God, yet she is always with me

I was on a trail run the other day in the woods near my house when God spoke to me. He said, “Who cooks for you?” When I didn’t respond he said it again, “Who cooks for you?” So I replied, “We eat out a lot.” Yes, on that particular occasion God was a Barred Owl.

I love that the pastor at our church has always forced our confirmands to try to put in words their beliefs about God and Jesus. It never hurts to try to understand God. What I find so unfulfilling about the result is that the statements of those so young often reflect more of what has been stuffed into their heads from others than what their own very limited and sweetly short experience has revealed to them. I do still treasure the statement of one boy, Tony Watson. “I believe God is an old, white man with a very long white beard in white robes who sits on a golden throne in Heaven above the clouds.” Tony delivered that line with the deadpan of a seasoned comic. I loved his words so much because he seemed to sense that using words to describe God is all but impossible. By using satire, the humor in Tony’s words totally described the divine comic that I know.

Personally, I don’t believe in God, yet she is always with me. I didn’t make that statement up. It is a paraphrase of a book title by the Zen Master Greg Warner called, “There is no God and He is always with you.” Warner explained that the limits of the human construct that is “God” does not fit with his experience of the divine. Ironically, he feels, the more you try to define God, the less divine and more human He becomes.

Isaiah chapter 55, verses 8 and 9 attributes God himself saying, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways … For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” This to me is as good an explanation of trying to explain the explainable as any I’ve heard. Unfortunately, most of the rest of the Bible tells us of a God in completely human terms. In it He seems to be an insecure, contradictory, vengeful sort who loves only the “right” kind of people.

Maybe we should look for the divine in less human constructs. Let’s throw away the book and look for God in the world we actually live in today. Maybe all we have to do is go for a run and listen to the Barred Owl.

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