I believe in a God I can’t control

When God tells Moses to lead his people out of captivity, Moses asks God for his name. People of his day believed that if they knew the name of a God, it would give them power over that God. God’s response to Moses is striking – “I am who I am” – he says. “I will be who I will be” – not who you want me to be, not who you think I should be – “I will be who I will be.” Often I want God to be who I want him to be, to fix my problems and do my bidding. I want control over God, or at the very least I want to be God in my own life. I believe in the Christian God because he doesn’t let me do that. He doesn’t say, “If you follow this set of rules and do everything right, then I’m obligated to reward you with an eternity in paradise” – instead he makes me rather uncomfortable.

“I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.” (Ex 33:19) God tells Moses. “It is God who decides to show mercy. We can neither choose it nor work for it,” Paul writes (Rom 9:16). Through the prophet Isaiah, God speaks: “Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you are doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be!’ How terrible it would be if a newborn baby said to its father and mother, ‘Why was I born? Why did you make me this way?’ Do you question what I do? Do you give me orders about the work of my hands?” (Isa 45:9-11)

If I could control God and make him do exactly what I wanted, he would be a fairly impotent God. Sometimes he does things I don’t like. Sometimes he does things I can’t explain. But he is true to His character – not mine. I believe that if there is a God, I shouldn’t be able to control him and make him do exactly what I want, but that I should stand in amazement when I survey the incredible things he has done.

next: I believe in a God who thinks I’m important

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