Tuesday, November 17, 2009

God and the Paradox of Power Surrendered

On Saturday night as we drove home from dinner at a friend's house, Benjamin shared that he had a dream about Kashmir Friday night (the night our kitty died). When we asked him what his dream was about, he said he saw Kashmir sitting on Jesus' lap. I was struck by what a gift this was for him--and even for us. It revealed to me so much of the heart of God: the omnipotent God of the universe comforting a small family in pain, providing a sweet image for a small boy grappling with this new concept of death. This dream was like a "new home" announcement: "Wanted you to know Kashmir's settled into Jesus's lap and doing well."

It makes me smile with thanksgiving and wonder and delight. It confirms what I already know about God: that He is Love, that He is good, that He can be trusted. It also makes me question any presentation of Him as anything less than utterly compassionate and merciful--even in His justice. God's greatest display of power was his surrender of it: his incarnation as a powerless baby, his body broken and blood shed in forgiveness, even--or perhaps especially--for those who "know not what they do."

As I think about this, I feel compelled to let go of my anger towards our less-than-compassionate vet at the hospital. Was he insensitive? Yes. Was he malicious? No. At least, I don't think he was aware of how he treated us. I still wish he had used his authority differently. It could have made all the difference had he entered into our world for a few minutes to understand our confusion and acknowledge our uncertainty and prepare us for the pain ahead. Then we might have trusted him and experienced our loss with hope rather than anger. But I'm ready to let go of my judgement and rest.

Amazingly, I think we have a God who did just what we longed for: He entered our world (Merry Christmas), understood our confusion ("They know not what they do"), and prepared us for the pain ahead ("In this world, you will experience tribulation, but I have overcome the world"). God trusted God ("Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done...Into your hands I commit my spirit") so that we might trust Him, too--and live in faith, hope and love in the midst of the pain.

I promise I won't keep writing about our cat, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about this God who takes care of four-year-old boys mourning a beloved pet. Every time I sit down to write, it comes back. The God I know is not interested in power trips, terrorism, violent invasions of earth, firey vengeance, or destruction. The God I know snuggles kitties on his lap and then sends pictures to little boys as tokens of His love...

Emmanuel, God with us.

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