The Women’s Ministry at my church is currently doing a book discussion on WM. Paul Young’s, “The Shack”. The book is basically about how you will confront pain in your life, and through it God will reveal His Spirit/presence/power/love/etc. to you in a new way…I highly recommend the book! During the discussion, questions are posed and obviously discussed amongst those who are present. Even if you haven’t read the book, I think these questions are great:
1. What are the ‘shack(s)’/pain in your life?
2. What have you learned about yourself and God in confronting that pain?
You may want to consider answering those questions for yourself and then begin to pray about the condition of your heart and how to move forward. However, the purpose of this post is to ‘flesh-out’ if you will, my answer and posing to you all question #3:
3. How have you envisioned the Trinity? Has this hindered or helped you in your relationship with God/a higher power/etc ?
Now, for those who haven’t read the book, I won’t give away what the protagonist envisioned or what was revealed rather, of the manifestation of the Trinity that he experienced in going back to the ‘shack’ or pain in his life. What have you imagined God to look like? Jesus? The Holy Spirit? Sitting in the discussion and listening to the varied answers and descriptions given, my perspective began to broaden. Some described either entity of the Trinity as gendered, its attributes, features in character and communication…I sat there and pondered a while. I never ascribed any entity of the Trinity a gender or bodily features or anything; like some others, I’ve always envisioned Spirit. The women mostly shared their reasoning for giving certain characteristics in imagination and mostly, such was in an attempt to better relate to that which provided power and love for each of them.
Most seemed to agree that God is ‘Father’ which I agree with, but God for me is EVERYTHING. Growing up, I can’t really say I know what it is to have or understand clearly, the roles of father or mother. Both of my parents were in my life but I was not raised by either of them-my grandmother raised me. I was always clear to separate my grandmother from my mother but I never could grasp the role of parents because those roles were never manifested or active/tangible in my life. At a young age, I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord and my understanding then, was that God was always present and active in my life. It wasn’t about until the age of nine, where I began to actively participate in this relationship, that I had professed at six and was baptized as a public display of the grace I had accepted at the age of seven. During this time, I didn’t have a concrete understanding of the Trinity, although I was taught about it in Sunday School. You know how you are taught things but they don’t become real until you experience them for yourself? That’s where I was…As I grew in my faith, I can admit that even today I consider God as everything/all-encompassing because ascribing a role that I’ve never known to Him couldn’t be justified because I knew/know Him and His presence. It is true, that I would/will pray, “Father, …” but I think it’s because I learned that from the Lord’s prayer. The absence of my parents (actively in my ‘rearing’ or growing up) helped me to experience God on a level of no specificity. Although, I would and do address God as “Father”, I consider Him to be more than that, and more than mother…Many of the women assembled at the discussion ascribed God as male-but some said female because it allowed them to understand God better because they were female.
Beyond giving our imagined conceptions of God, the focus of the question shifted to our imagination of what the Trinity (God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and The Holy Spirit) looks like or is manifested as. This question struck me as powerful. Our vision has the strength to dictate our interaction with the natural and supernatural. I honestly, haven’t been able to offer my ideas of distinguished looks, but my vision of manifestation is…well, here’s how I see it. In my understanding, I sorta mesh God and Jesus Christ together. I mean, the Trinity is God in three persons…manifestations, so grouping those two entities together didn’t really puzzle me until the question was posed. I thought, had I been limiting the Trinity’s work in my life or not been understanding this correctly at all? If there are three separate manifestations, how could I limit one by putting two of them together? I still don’t know the answer.
I know that God is creator and Jesus Christ is the human manifestation of God on Earth; God incarnate. I guess, I’ve always thought of Jesus as the tangible representation of God and so I consider the two entities one in the same. Until I considered Jesus’s human character that the fully divine-God/the Father, did not undergo. Still-even today, I consider the work of both in my life as the same. I’ll admit, I still have an issue or struggle with praying to God/Jesus Christ as “Daddy” as some others that I know do. At first, I considered myself more distant from God because I couldn’t bring myself to speak specifically and address God as “Daddy.” Yes, I’ve never used the language in my life (Daddy) so I guess I try to justify it as it wouldn’t be personal for me to come to God as “Daddy” because it/the title/role is foreign to me, while God’s activity, role in my life, presence was everything BUT foreign…I don’t know if that makes sense because I know others in similar situations that feel that referring to God as “Daddy” draws them closer to God….Perhaps, it’s a personal preference, what do you think?
The Holy Spirit has always been the entity that most amazes me about the Trinity. The tangible expression of God’s love and presence as both God/Jesus have surpassed tangible human interaction-He sent the Spirit to do the physical…The Holy Spirit known as the advocate/comforter has been my direct help when I’m stubborn to God’s word and voice. Sometimes, I feel that God will come in the ways of His word and voice and I’ll try to ignore both-but when the Spirit comes…I think for me, some things I need to feel, while others I could hear and study about through the word. The Spirit reassures me in a way that the word of God can’t always do — because I feel the Spirit and it affects me differently….”God in three persons, blessed Trinity…”
I’ve said all this to say, that the vision you have dictates how you live. I believe this is why the Minister to Women posed the question: has your vision helped or hindered you? I suppose that my vision has helped me but I will continue to strive for understanding…The vision you have confirms the ways in which you talk to certain people, you approach certain opportunities…it’s all in how a person sees things. It’s interesting, that as a Christian I am supposed to walk by faith and not by sight. Does this mean that my sight is flawed? or even not conducive to ordering my own steps? Think on these things and consider where your vision has led you. Sometimes, it is only through our pain that strength comes in a new manner in our lives…Have you been hindered or helped by what you are looking at? Perhaps, it’s time to change what you are paying attention to, with your eyes. You have to decide. My prayer is that you consider what could be if you were to get your sight checked and got it re-focused. What I’m saying is seek clarity.
In all things, be encouraged!!!