Nearly 400 Friends convened in Colorado Springs at the end of December for Summit 2010, the first national gathering of evangelical Quaker youth and young adults. We spoke of missions, of community, of our identity as Quaker followers of Christ. There were discussions on women in ministry, on the importance of theological education, of the tension between pacifism and patriotism, of spiritual formation, sexual purity, immigration, and incarnation. And underlying every conversation were differing conceptions of the very nature of God. Close and personal, the inner Light? Or distant and powerful, the Creator of the universe?
What if God is both?
I live in God. God created me. God also created the boundaries of my life, the places where I touch others – where our boundaries bump (or overlap) – the crossroads of our lives, the space in which I stop to find myself.
I can’t get away from God. For God is here. And there. Now. And then. And when. If not for God, naught I’d be. Not now. Not ever.
Yet I am nothing. A grasshopper. The nation in which I live is a drop in the bucket, a speck of dust, a mote. To what could I compare God? With whom? A potter? A goldsmith? A counselor? They all fall down. Fall short. Fail completely to encompass the God who, in Isaiah, “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.”
Even so, it is God who holds me together. It is God who has reconciled me to himself. It is God who has invited me in, made me part of his body, the Church. And as I find myself a part of God’s body, I also recognize – though painfully – that I am unworthy (and unable). How am I to know God’s ways? God’s thoughts? God’s very word?
God is far away. But close. God fills both heaven and earth. And God is here. As I type. As I think. Looking out the window, watching as one last leaf describes a curve in the slant of afternoon light, I know that God has made this moment. Is making. God draws my attention to the beauty of his work, to him.
Father in heaven, You are holy, wholly beyond my understanding. Give me what I need. Let me forgive. Forgive me. Protect me. Above me. Beside me. Within me (and yet separate). I don’t understand. But I am thankful. You know my needs.
I know, God, that you are present as “the inner Light.” You inform, inspire and guide. But I also know that you are separate – so much bigger – from my selfish, suffering, sin-sick existence.
God fills both heaven and earth. And God is here.