I Used To Know That God

March 30, 2005
by Sylvia Alloway

Jeremiah 31:34 – No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. (NIV)

Today I saw a presentation by a representative of the Gideons. He told about the miracles he sees all over the world when he does one simple thing: placing the Scriptures in the hands of ordinary people. Sometimes he only gives out Bibles. Sometimes he tells the plan of salvation to the school children, or the prisoners, or the soldiers who have received the Bibles. But wherever the Gideons go, God does mighty works.

As I watched the pictures and captions appear on the screen (PowerPoint is a wonderful tool!) and heard the man tell story after story about the amazing things God is doing in the lives of people who receive his Word and his Son, I thought, "I used to know that God."

When I was a child in Sunday School, faithful teachers told me about Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, the little girl Jesus raised to life, and the lame man Peter healed. Missionaries spoke of God's startling intervention and miraculous preservation, and of how even death could result in the spread of God's Word. They told me of a powerful God, who uses everything — everything — to his will and purpose; a God who rules the universe and cares about children; a God whose authority cannot ever be halted, overruled, or completely understood.

So where did this other god come from, this ambiguous god who, as the world tells us, doesn't always mean what he says, who expects us to define good and evil for ourselves, and may or may not be there when we pray? Have all the small disappointments in myself and others, the real tragedies and perceived betrayals, the fears for the future, and the worldwide presence of disaster and evil all resulted in my acceptance of this cool, preoccupied deity who must make sense to my reason?

This will not do. I want the God I used to know. I yearn for his presence in my life, his supremacy in my heart, his fire in the depths of my soul. The lines have been drawn in the battle between good and evil. For those who choose the good side, passive faith in a nice, nebulous god will not suffice. Our every word and deed must ring true, must resonate boldly with Christ-ness, must hasten, hasten the kingdom. Can we do that? Only when we bow before the One who has not moved or changed, and cling to him until he is again the only God we know.

Prayer: Almighty God, free us from our comfort, our self-satisfaction, our unnoticed compromise. Heat our lukewarm faith until it is boiling over, so that the world may never take us for any but what we are: strangers and pilgrims on earth, shining ambassadors of our real home, heaven. In the powerful name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

About the author:

Sylvia Alloway <snalloway@verizon.net>
Granada Hills, California, USA

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