Sunday, January 20, 2008

God's Smiling Face

I never thought God smiled at me until yesterday. Let me explain. Even though I've related to God since childhood, I always thought of him as being either too serious to smile, or upset with me for what I did or did not do in my day to day life.

Yesterday, after the Sabbath ended and I continued my post-Sabbath devotions by thanking him for his being my creator, and savior, I added "friend" for the first time in my life and really felt that I meant it. When I thought of God being my friend, I smiled and felt that for the first time, perhaps, in my life I sensed God's smiling face.

I was almost choked with emotion when I realized that I had been thanking him sabbath after sabbath for being my creator and savior, but never my friend.

It isn't easy relating to a triune God. At times I've felt it necessary to address all three when praying to indicate that I had all three persons of the Godhead in my affections. I must confess that when I think of the Godhead I have warmer feelings, or more fully-realized feelings towards Jesus Christ. For three years now, I have also been having a love relationship with the Holy Spirit, who I once thought so holy that it was safer to not think of him too much, or at all, lest I accidentally offend whom I considered the most holy person of the Godhead. This was due in part to Christ's statement about the sin against the Holy Spirit being the only sin that had no pardon. How wrong I had been all my life long to stay away from the person of the Holy Spirit out of fear of somehow offending him.

Now regarding God, I come to the most complicated relationship I've had with all three persons of the Godhead. Even though all three divine Persons are God, normally when the bible speaks of God, with no other descriptive terms, it is referring to God the Father. At times in my life I've felt warm toward God, but seldom completely at ease. The reasons are many.

My own relationship with my father has been difficult in my life. Even though I have a good relationship with him now, that wasn't always the case. Whenever I used the expression "God the Father," my human father, with all his eccentricities and imperfections came to mind and influenced my conception of God.

During my late adolescence and early adulthood I had come up with the term Father Jesus and that had helped me soften the shock of using the term father to describe God.

In the past year I've sometimes felt that the term God is too generic, as historically there have been other gods, and to capitalize the term was not as endearing as speaking of Jesus Christ, or even Holy Spirit, which sounded very specific in my mind.

A few months ago I started reading Norman Vincent Peale's Power of Positive Thinking book, and the phrases, "God is on my side; God is blessing me; God is helping me; God is guiding me; God is my friend;" greatly helped me to think of God in warmer terms.

Even when I make mistakes I don't like to dwell on them. I don't linger on God's frowning face in the same way that a loving parent doesn't let a frown, or momentary relaxation of a smile, linger on their face due to their child letting them down. What good can it possibly do me to think of God as frowning on me when I fall short of his perfect ideal? I confess my shortcomings and claim his promise of forgiveness and cleansing, and continue thinking warm and positive thoughts of the God with the smiling face. That's what my God is like. His smile never fades for very long, if at all.

Thank you, God, for showing your smiling face to me no matter what else I experience or do in my life. Someday I hope to gaze on your smiling face as one gazes into the face of a good friend or loved one.

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