Archive for March, 2013

Stranger than Fiction

#6 in the Mysterious God series

“Charles Wallace’s drive of dragons was a single creature, although Meg was not at all surprised that Charles Wallace had confused this fierce, wild being with dragons.  She had the feeling that she never saw all of it at once, and which of all the eyes could she meet?  Merry eyes, wise eyes, ferocious eyes, kitten eyes, dragon eyes, opening and closing, looking at her, looking at Charles Wallace and Calvin and the strange tall man.  And wings, wings in constant motion, covering and uncovering the eyes.  When the wings were spread out they had a span of at least ten feet, and when they were all folded in, the creature resembled a misty, feathery sphere.  Little spurts of flame and smoke spouted up between the wings … “*

I like imaginative stories. I am drawn to them because they often depict the blending of the spiritual and natural realms in a way we don’t otherwise see.  But I am also very aware that imagination can easily cross the line into dark and defiled and that is not my idea of a good read.  By the time I got to this point in the story, my soul was sending some warning flags.  What was this entity being described?  I could almost see it in my own imagination, and it was more than a little disturbing.  I wasn’t about to expose myself to some defiled spiritual being.  The part about all those eyes was rather disconcerting.  Can you imagine?  Still makes me shudder a bit to think of it.  How weird would it be to have something looking at you with eyes everywhere?

In spite of my caution about what I was getting into, I decided to keep reading.  Something in the back of my mind said that this picture wasn’t entirely new.  Somewhere I had heard of a creature like it, even though I was still rather fixated on the idea of all those eyes.

Maybe some of you have already guessed what it was.  I didn’t guess until I read it in the story.

The author was describing a cherubim.

Granted, it is an author’s rendition, but clearly had characteristics from Scripture.  This wasn’t a scary being from the dark side, it was a scary being from the Kingdom of Light.  And in all honesty, her description was a good deal less disturbing than the real thing.

You see, I have read the book of Ezekiel.  That’s how I knew that the description wasn’t entirely foreign.  But I didn’t really believe what I was reading until I read it in the fictional story.  The story wasn’t in the Bible so I didn’t have to accept that it was God who was behind it.  This creature could be anything, and I clearly suspected it wasn’t good because God wouldn’t make something so weird, would He?

It was a bit of a jolt to realize that not only was it God, but when I refreshed my memory on what He had made, His version was even weirder than the story!  I was forced to see God in an entirely new light and also forced to recognize that I had filtered an awful lot out of my Bible reading.

How easy it is to disconnect from what we read – to take the preachable facts and separate them entirely from the color, texture, and fabric of the story.  We make them fit with what we want to believe about God.  I had read Ezekiel before, that’s why I knew that something was familiar about this creature.  But I had never READ Ezekiel before.  I had never really thought about how strange these creatures were and how much it messed with my head to think that the God of rainbows would create something so seemingly grotesque as a creature with four heads and eyes all over.

God isn’t supposed to be so weird.  Why do you think we prefer the picture of fat little babies with wings and a halo?  Or angels with harps and long flowing robes?  He isn’t supposed to create things that are so fearsome and hard to comprehend.  Nor is He supposed to behave in ways that aren’t exactly our idea of neat and clean.  A sneaking, conceiving, polygamous man as the father of Israel, a murderer as the liberator of Israel, and an adulterer and murderer as their heroic king?

I wanted God to be a certain kind of God.  Clearly I can’t read the Bible and deny the existence of things I don’t understand, but I can refuse to engage with them.  I can read Ezekiel and say, “well, yes, that is a bit odd” and just keep on going.  I can read Daniel and his experiences, or go to the ultimate weirdness and read Revelation and still never really believe it.  I can glaze over all the crazy human dynamics and endless paradoxes and just accept the bits that already make sense.  And what else has God made or done that doesn’t fit into my nice little worldview?

Perhaps that is why Jesus said we must be like the children.  Truth is always real to them, no matter how strange it may appear.

God is mysterious in His creation.  He is mysterious in what He shares and how He shares it.  I don’t understand some of the things He has made or why He considers them worthy of His creative power.  But the limits of my understanding cannot be allowed to block me from always seeking to understand more, to know more, to see His ways a little more clearly.

What do you see when you read Scripture?  Can you engage with what is really going on, even if it blows all your circuits and leaves you wondering if you really do know this God you serve?  Can you allow Him to sanctify and expand your own imagination so that it can take you places in His presence where your mind will never let you go?

It is no small thing to say we serve a mysterious God.

*Excerpt taking from “A Wind in the Door” by Madeleine L’Engle

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