A common utterance from one of our little offspring is “that makes me feel weird.” I’ve heard it so many times in the last few years that I kind of tune it out at this point. Especially because said child uses this phrase as an anti-bedtime weapon in the hopes that we will let her get in our bed in order to make the “weird feeling” go away.
However, it is true that sometimes this child really does feel weird about things. She’s our deep thinker, and though she is young, is constantly analyzing everything in a meta-way. She doesn’t just think things. She wonders why she thinks the things she thinks. Try saying that five times fast.
One of her most oft-quoted phrases in our house is “I was thinking about how God was never born. And that made me feel weird.” She said this a couple years ago but we laugh about it still – such a big thought for such a small one.
What really struck me when she said it, and still gets me now, is that I can vividly remember having that same feeling as a child. I don’t know that I expressed it that way, but I recall that there were certain aspects of God that didn’t settle quite right with me. I didn’t like that there were things that didn’t make sense.
It is, I think, an aspect of our child-like faith that we quickly do away with when we mature. We either make sense of the confusing matters or push them out of our minds in order to make ourselves more comfortable. Give me the Jesus who is palatable, please.
But I wonder what would happen if I were willing to admit, like my daughter, that sometimes I don’t totally get it. There are things that make me uncomfortable about God. I can’t reconcile certain attributes with my 21st-century sensibilities or my normal human level of intelligence.
There are parts of God that offend our level-headedness or contradict our post-modern, Western ideology. And when that happens there is a temptation to just shush it the way I shush a kid whose questions I find taxing. “Hush, I don’t have time for that right now. It takes too much time and effort to explain that or understand it.”
I think that what happens when we lose the ability to admit these things is that the fear of the Lord is slipping away from us. Even that is something we don’t always want to talk about. Fearing God. But that’s a big one, all over the Word of God, poking at our constant efforts to fit God into our little, manageable boxes.
To fear God is to admit that there is a Creator whose ways are significantly grander than my own, and whose scope of vision stretches from beginning to end, and on into infinity. This acknowledgment that He is above all, in all, seeing all, knowing all, leads us to a trembling awe.
If I am not saved, this fear is shot through with terror. What will this God do to me, an unrighteous sinner? If I am saved, though, it becomes more of an acknowledgment of His greatness that is filled with gratitude. I see that the narrow path is really the only path, because it aligns my way with this omniscient God’s way, and find that there is safety under the shadow His great, magnificent wings.
As C.S. Lewis so famously put it through the words of Mr. Beaver in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
And Peter’s reply, very simply and beautifully describes what it is for a believer to fear God. “I’m longing to see him, even if I do feel frightened when it comes to the point.”
The beauty of this statement is that this is what is so true about the fear of the Lord for the believer. It is a fear that’s full of longing. It’s an awe that makes us want to see Him, even if it undoes us. Or perhaps, so it will undo us. So that He can put us back together again as He sees fit.
This world that asks, as Lucy asked Mr. Beaver, “is He safe?” does not need our reassurance that He is, in fact, safe. Unfortunately, we often give that answer in hopes that no one will be made uncomfortable. But, in actuality, we are crying out for a God who is worthy of our worship. Such a God must be good, but could never be “safe.”
So when my daughter tells me that she doesn’t like how it feels to consider the eternal nature of God, I fight the temptation to say, “Oh don’t worry about that, honey.”
Instead, I say to her, and with her, “Yes, that is a little scary, isn’t it? But the same God who doesn’t fit within the limitations of our finite understanding of time is one who loved us to the point of giving up His treasured Son so that we could enter into that unfathomable eternity with Him. It’s scary, but it’s good.”
Ok, I don’t use those exact words because, hello, she’s six, but you get the gist. It’s okay that He makes us uncomfortable. He should. It means we are seeing and knowing the real God, not some safe, imagined version we’ve concocted. And it’s in relationship with the real God that we are actually, truly safe.