I’m never bored in the mountains. They are always the same, yet different with every moving cloud, every angle of sun, every shift of season.
I am never bored with God. Like the mountains he never changes, and yet I see many different views of him depending on what aspect of himself he wants to reveal in this season of my life and how willing my heart is to pay attention.
I found myself wanting to jump into a heated discussion about which is more in the character of God, giving his adopted children prosperity and perfect health or teaching them through poverty and suffering. As often happens each side made assumptions about what the other side meant without taking time to listen to their definitions and explanations of terms. I think they were closer than they thought, but somewhere between the lips of one and the ears of the other words morphed into strange bloated thought clouds from another source. Straw men make great flashy bonfires and due to volatility tend to erupt into conflagrations which usually produce more heat than light.
Still, they prompted me to research what the Bible says about the topic. There is a lot of material in there on the dangers of the love of money, the blessings of abundance, the abuse of power and resources, the rewards of trust, the ugliness of selfish wealth, the riches of the Father’s house available to all his children, the unacceptable neglect of the poor … Finding verses to back each person’s hobby horse (proof-texting) is easy.
The following passage caught my attention. (This was after the warning story of the man who hoarded his wealth in new barns only to die that night.):
Then he added to the disciples, “That is why I tell you, don’t worry about life, wondering what you are going to eat. And stop bothering about what clothes you will need. Life is much more important than food, and the body more important than clothes. Think of the ravens. They neither sow nor reap, and they have neither store nor barn, but God feeds them. And how much more valuable do you think you are than birds? Can any of you make himself an inch taller however much he worries about it? And if you can’t manage a little thing like this, why do you worry about anything else? Think of the wild flowers, and how they neither work nor weave. Yet I tell you that Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass, which flowers in the field today and is burnt in the stove tomorrow, is he not much more likely to clothe you, you little-faiths? You must not set your heart on what you eat or drink, nor must you live in a state of anxiety. The whole heathen world is busy about getting food and drink, and your Father knows well enough that you need such things. No, set your heart on his kingdom, and your food and drink will come as a matter of course.”
“Don’t be afraid, you tiny flock! Your Father plans to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give the money away. Get yourselves purses that never grow old, inexhaustible treasure in Heaven, where no thief can ever reach it, or moth ruin it. For wherever your treasure is, you may be certain that your heart will be there too!” (Luke 12)
Some people read this and say, “See? The poor have more faith. So God wants you to be poor.”
Someone else reads it and says, “See? The wealth of the kingdom is ours! Receive it now by faith.”
Someone else says, “See? The point is to obsess about neither poverty nor wealth, but to trust God, give generously and be content.”
I was thinking about this when I drove by these mountains. Storm clouds, caught by high winds near Pincher Creek, changed the look of the range every few minutes. By the time I found a place to stop my car, they shifted again. The view reminded me that every time I think I have some aspect God figured out he obscures the familiar and comfortable and shows me another side of his character.
God is not only good, His ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. He is very, very big and has very, very many facets. One snapshot, or one verse of scripture, or one experience is true about him, but perhaps does not reveal the whole truth. There is more. Much more.
But sometimes it is the storms in life, when the familiar is obscured by dark clouds, that reveal important truths about God that we missed before.