Yesterday at preacher group, my friend RevFun asked me how important the idea of God as Creator is to me. As it happens, perhaps in an effort to get first beyond the limitations of Father language and then beyond gendered language for God, I landed on Creator as the most apt — for me — expression of the First Person of the Trinity. In the years when my significant relationship was with a non-believer, I spent a lot of time talking about that way of understanding God in an attempt to meet him halfway, sort of. He had an affinity for the outdoors, and especially in the early years, I went with him to places and via routes and means I had not experienced before.
(When I was growing up, my family got to the top of a mountain in the station wagon.)
Standing on top of a mountain and looking around and down inspired awe. Those weren’t my first moments of awe in nature, certainly. I’ve loved the sound and sight of the ocean since I was a very little girl, and it’s hard to find anything more amazing than a body of water extending beyond the horizon, going on and on beyond my imagining.
I met him halfway and began to contemplate God in creation rather than God in action, God in history, God in relationship.
God became farther and farther away.
Then the LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.Who determined its measurements–surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it? On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone when the morning stars sang together and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?
“Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?–when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped’? (Job 38:1-11, NRSV)
I guess He told him.
God had come to feel for me much like Job’s God, the one who is so lofty and powerful that our human concerns are really beneath Him, except that he set Job up to suffer great losses in the first place. Hmmm. But certainly that is CREATOR GOD, so large and in charge that Job better gird up his loins for the convo.
HE does seem to meet Job if not halfway than a quarter of the way, coming as close as Job can probably stand, in the whirlwind.
I’d like to mention that the person I worked so hard to meet halfway did not come toward me at all, so mine began to feel like a fruitless exercise. My carefully crafted and rather impersonal imaging of GOD, CREATOR had a Job 38 ring to it. It might have left me feeling pretty lonely when the not-met-halfway part of my world finally shut itself down.
But it didn’t. Because in the midst of the difficulties, in shock and without sleep, I started praying differently and seeing differently.
I began to understand, somehow, that the same God who laid the foundation of the earth also laid mine.
I told RevFun that every week I end worship with some variation on this benediction, maybe because I need to hear it:
When you go out into the world this week, you do not go alone, for the God who created you and the Christ who redeems you and the Holy Spirit who comforts you are all with you. Go out in God’s peace.
And while I may use the words “save” or “sustain,” I rarely vary the first person, the God who created you, who created me. It’s personal. I am made by God.
Job, too. I love how close William Blake brings the Divine Whirlwind. Maybe that’s the only way we’ll know.