Defining God (My journey through Psalms: 42)

I used to be confused by the concept of a God who is by definition unconditional love, but who we also should fear. It seemed contradictory, even if fear didn’t mean horror, love and any kind of fear seemed to contradictory to even be juxtaposed into a description of one person, much less God.


Wrong, even.

Yes, I’ll admit it. I questioned the Bible. Maybe even argued with it.

And then I was betrayed by one of my first true loves: the ocean.

I’ve loved the ocean since I was toddling around in diapers and I don’t mean I enjoyed the beach; I mean I’d live in the water and my parents would have to drag me away  kicking and screaming.

Until one fateful year. I couldn’t have been very old, but that year it was like the ocean was out. to. get. me.

It was little things at first. The waves kept knocking me down. Then, they dragged me under. And finally I was under for so long, I literally thought I was going to drown.

Fortunately one of my cousins was close enough to pull me up.

But that was enough. I sat on the shore staring at the ocean and feeling betrayed.

What had I done to make this powerful entity so angry with me? The ocean had always protected me before. Had always been my friend. Had always loved me.

But it wasn’t the ocean who had changed at all. It was me.

The ocean was always the same: beautiful, endless, and POWERFUL. It was my attitude that had changed.

Before I had a healthy respect…or fear (healthy mind you) for dangers in the ocean–rip currents, tides, critters etc. But that year I had gotten cocky, and tried to follow the big kids–kids with more experience than I had–some place I didn’t belong and the ocean did what the ocean does. And there are always consequences for our actions, even (or maybe especially) when I am stupid.

Funny thing, though, the ocean is still there. Still as beautiful and magnificent and forgiving as ever==as long as I remember to have respect for her and who she is: the mighty ocean.

Years later when I was questioning the essence of God I understood that God works the same way.

He is love, but he is also might, powerful and strong. He doesn’t change. The God from the old testament is the same God today. His nature is constant, but not a contradiction like I once thought. A complexity that I must respect–which is really the only way to build a relationship anyway.

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