As many of you are already aware, I have spent a great deal of my life looking at God. Be it from a foxhole or a classroom, the simple fact is I see Him. In my head is the image of God, as plain as any photograph, and I would like to take a few moments to describe how I see Him.
First of all, God is strong. God has a strength that permeates all of creation. It is God's strength that carries the Hebrews through their bondage in Egypt and Babylon. It is God's strength that allows a small population of people to remain a recognizable separate culture that is basically responsible for writing down the rules that became Western Civilization. It is God’s strength that enabled a first century carpenter to walk up a hill outside Jerusalem bearing all of our mistakes. God is strong.
Sometimes, God is angry. God releases His anger on the Israelites at the foot of Mount Sinai, and again and again we see that divine anger swell like the raging sea. If you look closely at these instances however, that anger comes not as a result of vengeance or spite, but rather as a result of sadness; that we as His children were capable of so much more, but chose to lie rather than take responsibility. Chose the easy way out instead of doing what was morally correct. God's anger is the result of us not living up to our potential, when all God really seeks is the opportunity to be proud of us.
And God, as much as certain groups organized in His name would like to deny, has an enormous sense of humor. I'd like to point out the instance in Mark chapter 7 where Jesus says that it is not what goes into a man's body that makes him unclean, but rather what comes out. Sure, there is a deep theological meaning there, but to the audience in those days the surface phrase is simply a potty joke. Again and again Jesus uses plays on words and jokes to illustrate His message, and some of them by the standards of the day are simply raunchy and scandalous. God is funny.
Why? Because God is love. Behind every inscrutable situation in the Bible or history, behind every commandment that we don't quite understand, behind all of it is the love of a Father for His children. He shares His strength with us because He loves us. He is angry with us because He loves us. He jokes with us because he loves us. That is how I see God.
The author Chuck Palahniuk says in one of his books that in our modern culture and society, we as men base our image of God on our fathers.
He is absolutely right. My Dad was strong, my Dad could be angry, my Dad was funny, and my Dad loves me as much as I love him. I thank God for my Dad, and I will miss him terribly.