The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 3: Who Is God
Well, Happy 2021, friends! As we continue to do the work of rebuilding a life of faith, a quick reminder that last week we looked at the question of who we are – that’s a pretty big one to tackle, I know, and what follows is maybe the biggest question there is: Who is God? As you sit or walk or do whatever you’re doing right now, give yourself a minute to consider this question for yourself. How do you imagine God?
Whatever image came to your mind just now, it’s good to know that it’s probably – definitely – incomplete. After all, God would never fit into any box we’d make for Him. And even that pronoun ‘He’ doesn’t describe God fully, though it does make an easy shorthand, and it’s one I’ll use here mostly. But, God has properties of male and female, father and mother, and we know that’s so because God put this wide array of qualities into each one of us. We are His image.
As we clarify our idea of who God is, it might be good to know who God is not. God is not a church of any denomination. God has no political party. God has no nationality, no age, no race. There’s never been a time when God did not exist – He is timeless, and that can be hard to wrap our minds around.
But there are a few things I’ve learned about Who God is that I know to be true. Back in first grade CCD, we all learned that God is love – we probably had a coloring page that said that very thing and we may have had vanilla wafers on a paper napkin and a little plastic cup of apple juice while we colored that page, and maybe there was a song as well. But how could we understand that reality back then? We likely identified God with the people who first loved us, for better or worse, might have believed God was like our teacher or our parish priest or like our mother or father. But their love was imperfect, no matter how hard they tried. And I know, in many cases, ‘imperfect’ just scratches the surface, and I’m sorry for that.
Experiencing God as love is something that has become much more real for me as I get older. In my own flaws and failings, I feel God welcoming me back time and again in love. In how He extends Himself into humanity through Jesus, into the details of our everyday lives, into our very hopes and dreams, I feel the perfect love of a gracious parent. I see God making good of all things, even the messiest things, just like it says He’ll do in Romans 8:28. There are times when I viscerally feel the Holy Spirit moving and alive in my chest when I sing or pray or run or teach or talk with another person, and sometimes it just surprises me out of nowhere, and it’s so big and overwhelming that there’s no other word for it but love, a kind of love so much bigger and purer that I wish I could find another word for it, a little foretaste of Heaven. Maybe you’ve had an experience like that.
So no, I have no complete answer to the question of who God is except to say that if we start with the idea that God is personal and God is love, and God is much bigger than we can imagine, we’ll be walking on the right path of discovery. And maybe we can walk that out together.
Today I have a couple of reading resources for you and they’re both by author C.S. Lewis. The first is his Narnia series – reading those books was the first time I began to see the story of God as much bigger than the vanilla wafers and apple juice version I heard in CCD. The second is his Mere Christianity. In addition, I’d like to mention an album to you by Amanda Lindsey Cook called House on a Hill – I highly recommend sitting with these meditative songs as you explore the question of who God is for yourself. Links to all of those resources may be found in the show notes.
You might also return to that “Conversations with God” journaling notebook we talked about last time – begin a new page and write at the top: Who is God, and then just write without editing yourself. See how God reveals Himself to you there.
Okay that’s it for me today. I’d like to thank my friend Peter Vaughan-Vail for providing the lovely harp music you’re listening to right now. Peter brought me into music ministry and an experiential relationship with God many years ago when we were in college together. Peter did not know he was doing that when we were in a band together back then – that band was SO COOL – or when he invited me on a retreat to a monastery in Vermont when we were twenty, but as I look back, I see it as a glowing example of the goodness of God and the way He works through people, time, and details. It’s such a delight to work on something with him again and I’m very thankful for his contribution.
And a quick note before I bless you today that if you like this podcast, would you please consider subscribing, rating, reviewing and sharing it with a friend. That will help get it out to more people and I’d be most grateful for that, so thank you in advance.
Alright friends, here’s a blessing for you. In this brand new year, here’s a blessing straight from the mass readings on the first day of 2021. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace. To you and all those you love, Amen.
Okay friends, thanks for listening and I’ll see you next time.