‘The 7 dance steps of prayer’ (Part 4a – Jekyll or Hyde?)

How do you know which God you’re looking out of the window with?

This week is a moment to pause and to ponder the question above. The question raises the issue of whether our God a little bit like Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde. Are there two distinct personalities wrestling for control within him or is he just plain inconsistent and so unreliable?

Now you see why this is an important question to ponder.

Such a question is not new. The Old Testament rejoices in the astonishing testimony of the Good News who is our God. This does not stop at Malachi as the New Testament explodes into being with Jesus’ joyful declaration of ‘The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the Good News!’ (Mark 1:15) But the Old Testament is not merely sunshine and bright, joyful days of God’s goodness and faithfulness.

It speaks of dark and stormy times, of God’s abandonment and desertion of Israel described so painfully by Ezekiel in the withdrawal of God’s presence from the Temple. This sense of Counter Testimony is put into words by Job, by Daniel and the sorrowful language of the laments in the Psalms. It finds expression too in the New Testament with Jesus’ cry of dereliction on the cross of ‘My God, My God why have you abandoned me?’

If the question is not new so neither is the ‘answer’; though it may not be quite the answer we may be looking for. The answer is that both are consistent with who God is and how he acts and both are secured within the language of covenant, that is, of God’s plans, purposes and promises for us.

In covenant we can be fully confident that God will always be faithful to his side of the agreement even though we aren’t. In covenant we can be fully confident that God is gracious beyond measure, never treating us as we deserve but yet loving us so much that he can’t leave us in our sinful habits. In covenant we can be fully confident in all that we know of God’s plans, purposes and promises for us but also of the vast gaps in our understanding too.

When we look out of the window it is to realise that God is always greater and higher and vaster and deeper than our thoughts. It is to realise that he is beyond our comprehension, but there is one thing we can be confident of. We can be confident that however we experience this God we know his love endures forever.

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