All the World's a Classroom

10 Things I Like About God (Part 2)

These are the second five of the 10 specific things I like about God.

6. The way He is acquainted with the most painful life experiences

There is no sadness and grief of mine that exceeds His. I simply love the fact that He came down to earth to live as men live. The quote from Early Writings (p. 80-81) just keeps coming back to me.

“In a moment I stood before Jesus. There was no mistaking that beautiful countenance. Such a radiant expression of benevolence and majesty could belong to no other. As His gaze rested upon me, I knew at once that He was acquainted with every circumstance of my life and all my inner thoughts and feelings.”

 

Heb 4:15 – For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

 

Isa 53:3-4 – He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

7. The way He silences my inner thoughts.

Something about His presence that quiets the questionings in my mind. He is majestic, He is sovereign, and He is the King of kings who stands in the highest throne of the universe. I don’t have to know all of life’s answers, things don’t have to be less complicated than the way they are. Yet there is confidence, not because I know what He’s going to do, but because I know Him. The assurance in His character, which only exists in His presence, is the sweet place where I want to abide.

Hab 2:20 – But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

8. The way He knows.

I like that I don’t have to explain myself to God because of His infinite knowledge about me. Sometimes the contents of the heart are inexpressible, and the Holy Spirit intercedes on my behalf. He knows the words that I’m about to say before they come out of my mouth; He knows what I would do before the situations come up. For someone who is not a good communicator, I really appreciate that.

Romans 8:26-27 – Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

 

Psalm 139:1-6 – O lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.

9. The way He cares about my happiness

“God is love” is written upon every opening bud, upon every spire of springing grass. The lovely birds making the air vocal with their happy songs, the delicately tinted flowers in their perfection perfuming the air, the lofty trees of the forest with their rich foliage of living green — all testify to the tender, fatherly care of our God and to His desire to make His children happy.” Steps to Christ, p. 10.

For some strange reason, undoubtedly my own misconceptions, it was a “paradigm-shift” moment when I read that it is God’s desire to make His children happy. I know that I’ve known that in the past, but apparently I lost that understanding and had to realize it again. God simply wants me to be happy. The Christian life is hard, but it’s not a gloomy one. God is not trying to make this character building process a sad one, He cares whether I’m happy or not.

Psalm 145:15-16 – The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season. Thou openest thine hand, and satisfiest the desire of every living thing.

God knows how to make every creation glad. I like that.

10. The way that He is mine

None of the above traits would matter if in the end God is a stranger to me. The most glorious truth is that He descends to be my Friend, my Savior, mine. The one thing I like the most about God is the simple fact that I am His and He is mine.

Loved with everlasting love, led by grace that love to know;
Gracious Spirit from above, Thou hast taught me it is so!
O this full and perfect peace! O this transport all divine!
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.
In a love which cannot cease, I am His, and He is mine.

Heav’n above is softer blue, Earth around is sweeter green!
Something lives in every hue Christless eyes have never seen;
Birds with gladder songs o’erflow, flowers with deeper beauties shine,
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.
Since I know, as now I know, I am His, and He is mine.

Things that once were wild alarms cannot now disturb my rest;
Closed in everlasting arms, pillowed on the loving breast.
O to lie forever here, doubt and care and self resign,
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.
While He whispers in my ear, I am His, and He is mine.

His forever, only His; Who the Lord and me shall part?
Ah, with what a rest of bliss Christ can fill the loving heart!
Heav’n and earth may fade and flee, firstborn light in gloom decline;
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.
But while God and I shall be, I am His, and He is mine.

(Words by George W. Robinson, 1876)

10 Things I Like About God (Part 1)

These are the first five of the 10 specific things I like about God.

1. God’s Pursuit

When God sets out to pursue humanity, to pursue me, He goes all out, even unto death.

Ephesians 2:4-5 – But God–so rich is He in His mercy! Because of and in order to satisfy the great and wonderful and intense love with which He loved us, Even when we were dead (slain) by [our own] shortcomings and trespasses, He made us alive together in fellowship and in union with Christ; [He gave us the very life of Christ Himself, the same new life with which He quickened Him, for] it is by grace (His favor and mercy which you did not deserve) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation).

It sounds like He couldn’t bear the thought of man’s nonexistence. He can’t stand the fact that I was dead that He rose me up from a sinful life that was separated from Him. He did that even though the price was very costly – Jesus Christ, His Son.

2. God’s Possessiveness

When God declares something, someone, or some nation to be His, He protects it like no other. No one can mess around with God’s property because that would be equal to messing around with God.

The Bible says He is a jealous God. Someone explained to me that there’s a difference between envy and jealousy. Envy is coveting what you don’t possess but someone else does, while jealousy is not wanting to lose what you already have. It makes perfect sense then when God says He is jealous over His people. He does not want to lose what is His – it is a requirement, or a natural consequence, of love.

Zech 2:8 – For thus said the Lord of hosts, after [His] glory had sent me [His messenger] to the nations who plundered you–for he who touches you touches the apple or pupil of His eye:

 

Psalm 34:7 – The Angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him [who revere and worship Him with awe] and each of them He delivers.

 

Zech 2:5 – For I, says the Lord, will be to her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her.

3. God’s Personal-ity

By personal-ity I don’t mean the qualities or traits that He has. What I mean is the way He is so personal to me. A lot of people have relationships with God. But the Person of God that I know in my deepest heart is different and distinct than the Person that everybody else knows. Such is the nature of God’s relationship with man; He is big enough for all of us. Each bond is different, as if there is no other person in the universe.

“The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul for whom He gave His beloved Son.” Steps to Christ, p. 105.

Moreover, I like how He reveals aspects of Himself that are exactly fitted and customized for every one of His child, for every circumstance. He knows when to tell me something I didn’t know before about Him just at the right place and time.

Revelation 2-3 – To each church, depending on their circumstances and their needs, Jesus impressed upon them different aspects of Himself. Think about how unique and distinct each person is from the rest of the world? I am unique and distinct from the rest of the world, not because I’m such a special case, but because this is simply reality. No one in this world has gone through every single thing that I have been through. This is true for every individual. Our life experiences color the way we see and understand God. This means that my relationship with God literally is just between me and God.

4. God’s Little Surprises Everyday

Insecurity is a real problem that men and women face, perhaps more for women than men. It demands some kind of affirmation and assurance everyday. Little things, which either boost or squash our confidence, could matter a lot especially in terms of relationships. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how wonderful a relationship can be for one day, the next day is a whole new business. The assurance from the past doesn’t always carry over. I think God knows how to deal with this problem.

Lamentations 3: 21-23 – But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.

Everyday I wake up, I need to start over. And God has something different for me everyday, because my need is also different everyday. I just have to watch for what God has in store for the day, and it gets pretty exciting to see what God is going to do next.

5. God’s Mysteriousness

God is mysterious and His ways are past finding out. I like how there are many, many things that I don’t know or understand about God. He keeps me curious and amazed, and I can actually ask Him to amaze or make me wonder, and be in for a real ’whoa’ experience.

Romans 11:33 – Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unfathomable (inscrutable, unsearchable) are His judgments (His decisions)! And how untraceable (mysterious, undiscoverable) are His ways (His methods, His paths)!

 

Job 9:9-11 – Who made [the constellations] the Bear, Orion, and the [loose cluster] Pleiades, and the [vast starry] spaces of the south; Who does great things past finding out, yes, marvelous things without number. Behold, He goes by me, and I see Him not; He passes on also, but I perceive Him not.

[To be continued]

Scribbles on Loneliness: Thoughts and Reflections

Scribbles on Loneliness: Thoughts and Reflections

An experience we hardly admit. A thought we often shun. A fear we avoid at all cost. Loneliness.

 

Few would actually say “I’m lonely”, not jokingly or with tongue in cheek, but in a solemn and sober manner. Outwardly, snickers may be directed to such a person, but there may also be inner, unspoken admiration for the courage to admit such a private state of being.

 

Why are we lonely? And why are we so afraid of being lonely?

 

Why Are We Lonely?

There are quite a number of reasons why loneliness occurs. Physical or geographical isolation from preferred companions is one. The absence of a refreshing and vibrant social network can trigger an isolated feeling and awareness.

 

It must be noted, however, that loneliness differs from being alone, because it can easily occur in the midst of social interactions. Studies show that occurrences of loneliness are rampant in big cities. People can feel alone in a crowd or even in a marriage.

 

Thus, loneliness lies in realms beyond the physical. The cause and the solution, therefore, cannot be just physical. It is perhaps quite clear that loneliness is not about the lack of company; it is the lack of intimacy. So the discussion must shift to the immaterial realm of human relationships.

 

Relationships and Intimacy

The lack of intimacy in relationships could further be caused by several reasons. Firstly, it can be caused by the loss of someone or a relationship through social problems or death. The space that was occupied by certain individuals is now permanently vacant, and the void demands something to fill it back in.

 

Secondly, it may be caused by a quality of friendship or relationship that is too shallow according to one’s estimation, because it doesn’t satisfy one’s need to identify with another or to be understood in the innermost thought and motive. Such a relationship takes time. Moving to a new surrounding or a new place can be a source of this type of loneliness. Time, though, can potentially solve the problem given that efforts to develop relationships are expended.

 

The latter cause can be generally described as the discrepancy between expected intimacies with actual intimacies. This discrepancy introduces another factor into the equation, which is one’s growth as he goes through life and various life experiences. Growth in life allows the expansion of one’s concept and understanding about relationship and intimacy. Thus, something that may fulfill one’s need today may not do so a few years down the line.

 

Where Loneliness Comes From

Out of these few sources of loneliness, it can be concluded tentatively, that the solution of loneliness requires: (i) a person(s), since it deals with relationships, (ii) an intimate relationship with that person(s), since mere company does not suffice, (iii) an established understanding of one’s being at a deep level, and finally (iv) something dynamic and expansive that somehow would grow and expand with one’s conception about the world.

 

These sources, however, are mere circumstances that trigger loneliness. Can any of it actually claim as the source or root of loneliness? Where does loneliness come from?

 

American Buddhist monk Ajahn Sumedho says,

We suffer a lot in our society from loneliness. So much of our life is an attempt to not be lonely: ‘Let’s talk to each other; let’s do things together so we won’t be lonely’ And yet inevitably, we are really alone in these human forms. We can pretend; we can entertain each other; but that’s about the best we can do. When it comes to the actual experience of life, we’re very much alone; and to expect anyone else to take away our loneliness is asking too much.[1]

 

Existentialist philosophers explain the phenomenon of loneliness as a part, perhaps an integral part, of being a human. Each person is born as a separate entity from any other person, with consciousness that is distinct from anyone else’s. Each person lives and dies alone. It is a given and a fact of life.

 

In other words, the root of loneliness lies in the fact that humans are individuals. We don’t share our soul and consciousness with any other person. It is a given. Yet, this fact is not a hopeless end to the problem.

 

Loneliness: A Christian Perspective

In Christianity, the answer to loneliness is inevitably God. There is no other Being that can satisfy such demands of the soul. Furthermore, this Answer in the Christian worldview does not only fulfill the aforementioned criteria, but explains the root of loneliness as well. In contrast to Buddhism, this ‘human form’ is not a result of endless cycles of reincarnation in which being a human just happens to be the current state of existence, and one better learn and make the most of it. To the Christian, this ‘human form’ has an intentional origin. Unlike realism that stops at “It’s just the way it is”, the Christian knows that the given facts of life have a Life Giver.

 

If individuality has an origin, namely the Intellect who produces a unique design for each person, and if loneliness is the inevitable consequence of being an individual, the solution to loneliness must therefore be in the origin.

 

The One who creates individuals is the One who can fulfill men’s loneliness at the deepest level. Expecting anything or anyone else to do so, will inevitably result in disappointment. At the end of the day, loneliness is in the mind. Each person is all alone in his thoughts and motives, and no one else can access that space except the God who can read the minds of men (cf. Psalm 139). This loneliness is the space God creates in each person for Himself, the God-shaped void, the eternity in men’s hearts (cf. Ecc 3:11). It is felt even more by separation. While the Edenic parents could freely enjoy direct communion with God to satisfy their longing, sin has intensified loneliness in the present world (cf. Isa 59:1-2). Regardless, loneliness is an obvious sign that humans need God.

 

The publishers’ preface to The Desire of Ages write:

In the hearts of all mankind, of whatever race or station in life, there are inexpressible longings for something they do not now possess. This longing is implanted in the very constitution of man by a merciful God, that man may not be satisfied with his present conditions or attainments, whether bad, or good, or better. . . . It is God’s design that this longing of the human heart should lead to the One who alone is able to satisfy it. The desire is of Him that it may lead to Him, the fullness and fulfillment of that desire. That fullness is found in Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Eternal God. . . . Haggai calls Him ‘the Desire of all nations,’ and we may well call Him ‘the Desire of all ages,’ even as He is ‘the King of ages.’ It is the purpose of this book to set forth Jesus Christ as the One in whom every longing may be satisfied.[2]

 

Ultimately, the Christian should not be afraid of being lonely. It is the space where God can touch a person’s soul in the deepest sense. It is a special time shared between just one Creator and one human being. It should be a joy for any two beings in love.

 

To conclude with an insightful quote,

The man who fears to be alone will never be anything but lonely, no matter how much he may surround himself with people. But the man who learns, in solitude and recollection, to be at peace with his own loneliness, and to prefer its reality to the illusion of merely natural companionship, comes to know the invisible companionship of God.[3]

 

Ps 107:9 For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

 


[1] Ajahn Sumedho, “The Way It Is” (http://www.budsas.org/ebud/see-way/way-is.htm)

[2] Preface to The Desire of Ages by Ellen G. White

[3] Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude (New York: Doubleday, 1968), 40.

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