God in a Box

If we maintain the open-mindedness of children, we challenge fixed ideas and established structures, including our own.

We listen to people in other denominations and religions. We don’t find demons in those with whom we disagree.

We don’t cozy up to people who mouth our jargon.

If we are open, we rarely resort to either-or: either creation or evolution, liberty or law, sacred or secular, Beethoven or Madonna. We focus on  both –  fully aware that God’s truth cannot be imprisoned in a small definition. – Brennan Manning

Brennan’s statement seems pretty radical. What about my paradigm? What about my systematic theology? What about my box?

I guess I’ve always put God in a box. But sadly, God shrunk as I grew. When I was little, the box was big. God was BIG. I knew that God was good and that He loved me. That was all I knew but it was enough and it was a really big box.

As I grew up the box got smaller. The more I was taught, the more I studied, the smaller the box, until one day I had all the answers. My theology was so systematic that I could slip God into a box small enough that it fit in my pocket.

I carried my little box everywhere I went for a very long time. My pocket-size theology served me well. I could pull it out anytime, anywhere and give anyone God’s answers for their life.

My tiny box was perfectly, hermetically sealed. Even from God. As J.B. Phillips said My God was too small. These days I feel the call of radical grace. God is BIG, God is good. God loves me.

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

17 thoughts on “God in a Box”

  1. I love this post! I see my son going through his walk with God and somedays his God is getting smaller and some days his God is Huge. I remember I did that too and all I can do, or rather, the best thing I can do is Know my God and Live with my God so my son can witness my walk with my God. My God got small too. My God vanished for a very brief time after a family suicide. I see now that my crisis in faith was there to lead me to an even larger God. God is HUGE now. Each time my God gets smaller it turns out that upon ‘Gods return’ God is larger and I am more in awe. Weird how God does that.

  2. God is a big God. Now I’m not the guy that believes everyone is right but I have learned that when I get to Heaven I will be surprised by a great many things I was wrong about. Thanks for this post.

    1. jelillie – God is a big God and it takes a big man with deep convictions to say he’ll be surprised in heaven at what he didn’t have quite right! I really admire that in you. Don’t worry – I don’t think everyone and everything is right either. I just don’t think I need to be judge and jury or anyone’s Holy Spirit. Beyond that, I want to have an expansive, grace-filled Big love.:D
      ~ Debbie

    1. SPTP – Surprising response! I sort of expected to lose readers over this one. Thank you for your consistent encouragement (and your prayers),
      ~ Debbie

    1. Drusilla – Isn’t it interesting, our need to make God fit so neatly within our finite constraints. It seems that anything past that often begins to feel threatening.
      Thank you for sharing here with me!
      ~ Debbie

  3. Debbie, I have always loved the fact that you were interested in pursuing God. The journey you are embarking of late puts me in mind of the Desert Mothers and Fathers. Awesome!

    1. Heidi – We do sort of live in the desert right now and I am a mother – I think the comparison kind of breaks down after that, but thank you!
      ~ Debbie

  4. Well stated. It is so very easy to limit God to our little reference system. I’ve heard it described as having a “pocket god.”

    On a somewhat related subject, you mentioned “radical grace”. There is a Franciscan monk named Richard Rohr who has a book of meditations by that name. I recommend that you check him out sometime.

    Thanks for your kind words and sweet spirit.

    1. literary lew – I’ve heard of Richard Rohr’s book but I haven’t read it. Since you recommend it, I’ll definitely see if I can track down a copy! Thank you and thank you for your kind words, as always,
      ~ Debbie

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