The Art of Mirriam Neal

who is He


Confession: I’ve always felt slightly pagan. My whole life, I’ve been drawn to the mystical side of the world – toward mystery and stars and standing stones. I’ve been more inspired to faith by works of New Age writers than by most sermons I hear on Sunday morning. I was thinking this over today, wondering how this began and whether it was wrong, and I came to the conclusion that no. It’s not wrong – at least, not the way I have it. I am very firmly a Christian. I love the Lord – and yet, I wondered, how come I felt closest to the Lord not inside a building with my back against a pew, but barefoot in the grass, or standing on my driveway looking up at the constellations twinkling in the blackness over my head? How come I find trees and a gray, windswept sky more worshipful than a devotional printed on a page?

I believe, too often, we attempt to fit God into a modern box. We poke a few holes in this box and set it on a shelf, and every now and then we take it out and revisit not the true God, but the small, dusty idea of God we’ve grown used to. This is a God of tiny communion cups and crumbs of bread, of badly-written worship songs and rules you won’t find anywhere in the Bible.

When you actually open up those sacred pages, this is not the image of God you find. No – the God you find there is the one who spoke the Universe into being. This is the God who set foot on water and did not sink, who bent to help the lowest and rose to give us life, the God who subverted cultural norms for women and who taught the most radical, newfangled notions people back then had ever heard. This is a wild God, a jealous God, a God who rides on thunder and lightning and whose still, small voice is more powerful than a hurricane.

In many ways, the true image of God is more similar to pagan gods of old than our modern idea of Him. He is not a tame lion, but He is good. He is ancient, He is new, He is eternal. Who are we to think we can confine Him into the finite, frightened, doubtful box that we label ‘Sunday’ and ‘Church’ and ‘Discipline?’ Not that those are bad in any way, but we have it all wrong; we see through a glass darkly and miss who He really is.

Today after we read aloud from Proverbs, Dad had us all read a verse we’d picked about God. I chose Psalms 135:7, which holds my favorite description of God.

“He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.”

I was inspired this morning to begin a journey through Psalms and write down all the descriptions of God that I find. It’s going to be an interesting, enlightening experience – care to join me?

15 thoughts on “who is He”

  1. I don’t think that’s pagan, to feel connected to Yahweh through His creation. Not at all. The Psalms talk about the heavens declaring the glory of the Lord, and Christians throughout the ages have written Psalms to Him. And here’s a long, long line of Christian Mystics that have felt the same way you have.

    There is a balance to be found between finding Christ in the wild places, and finding Him in the congregation of the saints. Personally, I find it a lot easier to find Him in the wild places. If you’re not all ready, try following Ann Voskamp’s blog. I love how she brings the spiritual and mystical into the every day things of life.

    I think balance is the key. All of the beauty and power of the earth was created by Him, but His favorites are always people, not places. 😉 Yes, He is wild. But He’s also our King, our Father, our Comforter, and our Safety.

    I think this trip through the Psalms is going to be really cool, but unfortunately I’m not going to have the time to join you. I’m running through the New Testament doing a study on “Jesus not so meek and mild” O_O and just, oh my. But I’ll be sure to check back to see what cool things you’ve uncovered, and I’ll maybe share some of what I find too.

    1. No, exactly! That’s what I was trying to point out – and I love Anne Voskamp (MOST of the time. She can be too drippy) and in fact, gave Mom ‘One Thousand Gifts’ to read recently ^_^

      1. Oh yeah, I agree she can be saccharine sweet at times but most of her stuff I really enjoy. I think that’s why I was drawn to Lewis too and to some of the Celtic Christianity but there’s a line where I go “Uh, guys you need to come back over here you’re out too far” because they *can* start sounding like the neopaganites and that’s why I got into studying theology myself. It’s definitely a balancing act trying to stay grounded in Scripture and seeking His Spirit. xD But that’s what makes it fun.

  2. I love this… you’re so right!! I think it would be so fun/insightful to read through the Psalms right now. *adds it to to-do list*

  3. <3
    Going through the descriptions/names of God is /fascinating/. I was going through the entire Bible focusing on that at one point, but as many times as I've moved in the past 6 years I don't know where my notebook is at the moment. I do want to finish it at some point though…thank you for the reminder.
    And also for the rest of this post. I've been thinking recently how very different the Bible's description of a follower of God is from so many modern (whether liberal or ultra conservative) ideas of who we are supposed to be. But it's not just our view of ourselves/who we're supposed to be that is so easily skewed, but our view of who HE is as well…of course the rest of it will get messed up if we're looking at Him wrong.

  4. Mmm…I’m right there with you. Some reading on this subject that you might enjoy: The Wonder of the Beyond by David Adam, The Call of the Wild by Robert Service, and the writings of some of the earlier Celtic Christians (though I agree with Scarlet Dipped Scribe that some of them seemed to have wandered rather off the mark).

    Like any true artist, God wants us to revel in – to be enriched by – His creation. Unlike the pagans, our worship does not have to stop with the created things, themselves, or with the hollow deities connected to it, but may ascend to the true Creator. Just like you, as a writer, gain personal pleasure from another’s enjoyment of your books, God is glorified and pleased by our enjoyment of the things He has created for us.

    I’m already engaging in two separate Bible studies at the moment, so I’m not sure if I’ll have time to join you in your journey through the Psalms; however, I’m excited that you’re doing this study and I hope you’ll share your findings with the rest of us.

  5. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing! I completely agree with you. Growing up, I always felt God more closely in a tree in my goat field than at church on Sunday morning.

    I’d also love to see a follow-up post or two on how your journey through Psalms is going. I’m reading through them, also, in a way, as I work my way through the One Year Bible.

  6. You put it into words! I’ve needed this post my entire life. This is exactly how I’ve always felt about things. Thank you, Mirri! <3

    I love your idea of going through Psalms. I might have to do it myself sometime.

  7. Wow, I love this post. I mean, for me, it’s thinking of God as dangerous that’s the real killer. I mean, loving, of course, but sometimes Christians look at God like a self-sacrificing bunny rabbit than a fierce and dangerous entity, powerful, graceful, raging, roaring who knows every segment of our DNA personally—and we need to remember that we’re not watching the rabbit get pulled out of the hat, we’re standing in the presence of someone much greater.

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