The God Who Does Nothing.

I did an interview on Christian radio the other day, and had a little chat with God to ask if He had anything specific He wanted me to mention. He didn’t say anything, so I took that to mean He was happy for me to take the lead on this one. It used to worry me a lot when I asked God a specific question and He didn’t give me an answer, but now I simply take it to mean I pretty much already know what to do and He’s trusting me with it. I’ve learned to trust myself a little more, to be confident I’ll know what to do or say without having to question my experience or knowledge, or back off until I get some kind of direct instructions from The Top. I already have the direct instructions.

Be kind to people. Love and help them. Take care of yourself. Don’t be afraid.

This pretty much sums it up.

After the interview, I chatted with God about my next book. It’s been on my mind to write a book about having cancer which, rather than painting God as some kind of hundred point multi-disciplinary cancer fighting team (surgeon, psychologist, father, mother, counsellor, friend, oncologist, x-ray machine, deity, pastor, fairy God-mother etc) has God actually not doing very much. Mainly because when I had cancer, God didn’t actually do very much. Not to say He wasn’t around, because He was, but there aren’t many verbs I can think of to describe things He got up to, because He was just kind of there, and that’s all.

For most of my Christian experience, I’ve only ever heard God described in verbs. Very busy verbs.

God reigns. He rules. He moves. He does. God breathes, sings, heals, rains down and turns up. God visits, God leaves, God judges and forgives, redeems and comforts. God fills, empties, fights, defends, intercedes, allows, prevents, motivates, encourages, pushes forward, holds back, elevates and humbles. God speaks, God withholds. God blesses, God condemns. God comes and goes and comes and God goes away again.

God as a god who is always up to something, and if we don’t perceive Him to be at it somehow, then God is absent. Gone. Left the building.

Except not.

God didn’t do much when I was ill. I don’t know why, and actually, I don’t know what I expected Him to do. I hoped He’d heal me, but I didn’t really know what that would be like. I hoped He’d make my family feel less afraid. I hoped my having cancer wasn’t some kind of punishment and He’d be showing me in various ways what I was supposed to be learning from it.

But He didn’t.

I know He knows everything, but if God knows the reason behind my having cancer, He’s never told me what it is.

I often asked God where He was when the very bad things were happening to us, and what the hell He was or wasn’t doing. I never got anything different from Him than “I’m here.” Never another answer. Not a promise or a guarantee. Just “I’m here.” I wasn’t used to it. I was used to God and all the verbs. God just being God at a time like that seemed fairly – well – unfair. If God ever needed to be doing something, surely it was then?

But maybe there isn’t anything left to be done. Maybe Jesus really meant it when He said “It is finished.”

image credit: iStockphoto

image credit: iStockphoto

—–

I have this visualisation I do to help me go to sleep. I imagine myself hanging with God somewhere peaceful and relaxing, in a state where neither He nor I feel any obligation to run off and start doing something more important. Usually, we’re sitting on the seashore at night just being a part of the waves and the sand and the stars and the moon. God is never in a hurry to be anywhere else doing something more important. Funny how I’m the one who has to make myself stay there, even in a mental visualisation exercise, force myself not do anything, despite the fact you’d think God had plenty He could be doing that time of night.

I wonder if all these verbs we have for God have anything to do with Him at all, and have more to do with our expectations of ourselves? To fix things? To cure cancer? To make it make sense, or make something happen, or to be seen to be making something happen?

At times I’ve felt a huge obligation to make sense of my cancer experience, not just for myself but for others. God, however, has seemingly not felt the same way. I’ve asked Him, He says nothing on the subject except “It happened.” And I ask Him where He was, and He says “There.”

Don’t be a dick, I say. God smiles.

*****

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3 Responses to The God Who Does Nothing.

  1. louise March 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I love this. For years it’s enthralled me that when asked directly, “who are you?” God’s self-description was “I am that I am.” Hadn’t ever thought about how busy the verbs are that we insist upon ascribing. I really appreciate your thoughts.

  2. perfectnumber628 March 12, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    Wow… I was sick for several months last year, and had surgery, and I didn’t really learn any huge lesson from God, didn’t really feel “closer to him because of suffering”- nothing like that. No answers. It’s just a thing that happened and I’ve mostly gotten better and I suppose God has been with me… And I kind of feel like a bad Christian for not having some big inspirational thing to say about how I discovered God’s power or whatever.

    Anyway, thanks for writing this. Sometimes God doesn’t do stuff. But he’s always with us. :)

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