The God who smokes

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I am reading a book, “The God Who Smokes — Scandalous Meditations on Faith” by Timothy Stoner. The back cover says that Stoner “celebrates the good within Emergent while providing a balanced and thoughtful critique….”  Stoner “provides an honest response to the postmodern cry for authentic spirituality.”  Ok, so now you know somewhat where the author is coming from….

I am liking what Stoner is saying, for he portrays a God who transcends the notion that everything is hunky dory and that there is a good, pat little “God” answer for every thing. I have struggled too many years with the God of pat answers. I have felt lost, I have felt abandoned, I have felt unfaithful, I have felt even ungodly (hard for a pastor to say) because I cannot, for the most part, line up with that kind of God.

“I join all those other fringe dwellers and shout out, “Jesus is good!” But I also want to link arms with another timid introvert, an unassuming little beaver speaking about Aslan, the King of Narnia, and say, ‘Yes, He is Good, but He’s NOT safe!’ He is a lion after all.” (Stoner p. 27)

“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, of Joseph, Moses, and David is not predictable, domesticated, gentlemanly, or safe. Not for that matter is the God of Job. What we want is nice, what we get is the Lion of Judah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the King of kings, the Lord of Lords.” (Stoner p. 60)

Stoner goes on to talk about the God who “dropped” him. When he had sacrificed much to serve him, and thought God would provide blessing, he ended up feeling totally abandoned. Like Job. Like me. Maybe like you. Just who is this God?

Feeling like you have been dropped by God is downright devastating. And no pat little answer is going to fix the situation. In fact, many times you won’t get an answer from God. Job didn’t. But he did get the Answerer.

I’m tired of trying to figure out all the answers. I just want God — even if he isn’t “safe.”

“Being dropped hurts. But having a fake God made in your own image can destroy you. Sometimes it’s only in the dropping that fake gets broken and the real appears.” (Stoner p. 71)

Lord, please give me the courage to go forward even when my questions remain unanswered. Thank you that even when I feel dropped, in reality I am only free falling and ultimately you are there to catch me. Amen.

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