Since the dawn of time, humankind has felt that, despite a lack of incontrovertible, tangible evidence, there is a higher power at work in the world. Whether we name it God or Gaia or the collective unconscious or any of countless other names, most of us believe in something greater than ourselves. For the purposes of this post, in the interests of avoiding unnecessary circumlocution, I shall call it God.
For millennia, God has nourished us, guided us, taught us. We have not always listened – far from it! – but that presence has touched most of our lives across the eons.
It strikes me, however, that the nature of God’s guidance may have changed. The title of this post would suggest negativity, but please bear with me and you will see that this is not the case.
Historically, the nature of God’s gifts was simply that of adding something good into our lives – a fruitful harvest, a child or spouse, a favorable environment in which to sell our goods and services. We have had a space, and God has filled it.
There have always been a select few among us who simply saw the world in a different light than most. These people had the imagination and the drive to create something new. For these few, God needed only provide the space, and allow THEM to be the ones to fill it.
From ancient times through the Renaissance and down to the present, the number of these people have grown exponentially. In a sign, perhaps, of God’s changing philosophy, or his view that Man has become worthy of greater things, more and more of us are in a position to be able to fill the spaces, if only God will grant them.
This is true not only of technological innovation, but of great change within ourselves.
I’ve heard people talking about God sending them trials to test their faith, and I think more people are failing those tests than realize it.
When God sends a Southern Baptist family a gay son, this is His gift. The test is not to stand fast against what has been given, to try to cure it, or – worse still – to cast the child out. The family’s test is to grow within themselves, to grow the capacity to love and to understand a facet of the world that is beyond their knowing.
When God sends an earthquake to a country woefully unprepared for it, perhaps this too is a gift, though one tempered with individual tragedy. The test in this case is not to cling to a belief that the afflicted people have somehow sinned beyond redemption but to bring the rest of us together, to allow us to show our generosity of spirit and our greater community.
If you believe – whatever you believe in – define your faith rather than letting it define you. Examine the hits you have taken and see the opportunities to fill the holes in your understanding. Really look at a person outside your race, gender, class, sexuality or religion, and see the person, the human being.
You probably won’t surprise God, but you may well please Him. And you may yet surprise yourself.