Monday, December 21, 2009

The Names of God

Barbour Books just released The Names of God: An Illustrated Guide on December 1st this year and, for my part, I can't think of a better book review to end the year on. This fully illustrated book talks about over 250 names and titles that are given to God in the Bible. The book is divided into three sections: names given to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each name/title that God carries is given about 1-2 paragraphs of explanation and there are accompanying photographs, scripture references, historical facts, and lyrics to age-old hymns given to illustrate the beauty of each individual name.

I make no bones about the fact that I am a Christian around here and the books I read, the movies I watch and the very life that I live is channeled through that filter. I believe that everyone has a presupposition and a world view and if you've been around here for any period of time, you'll have noted that I have a world view that is Christian in nature. You may not share the exact same worldview and that's ok. I'm not asking you to. I'm just telling you where I stand. (You can't say you weren't ever told!)

I love the treasure reference book that is The Names of God because it draws me deeper into the faith, teaching me of Who and WHAT God is. This is not only a handy reference, but is also inspirational reading. I highly recommend it for personal study, as well as for small group studies. It is an awesome book. But it is awesome, because it is about an awesome God.

This year has not been an easy one for Jonathan and I. Not at all. It has been filled with struggles and pain, none of which we could have imagined, dreamed of, and definitely would not have requested. We have been stretched to the brink many times over. As Christians, we don't believe that we will accept Jesus as our Savior and then live perfect and unrumpled lives. On the contrary, we very much believe that life is about struggles. But the struggles are good if they draw you closer to God. So, browsing through this book I have to say that these are the things that God has been to us in our season of struggle. I speak these things boldly, declaring that this is my God and in Him I do trust - even when the darkness is so thick we feel as if we will be crushed - when we are perplexed and confused and wondering where God is in the midst of the struggle and what He intends from it. We will not be destroyed, because God faithfully upholds us with His hand. (2 Corinthians 4:8) We are not destroyed. We are encouraged. We are loved. We are cared for. Though we have stared at death (a great deal more than we'd like this year!) we declare He is the victor over death and that death leads to life.

We will not be forgotten or forsaken, for He IS this:

He is The Most Upright (Is. 26:7) - even when people fail us and we find out that they are not what we thought they were. God is always righteous and is "not capable of error or wrong doing." (page 55)

He is our Strong Tower (Proverbs 18:10) - He is, like strong towers in ancient warfare, our "final line of defense." When we have been exposed this year to painful and false accusations and misunderstandings, God has proved the strongest tower - the last and the best line of defense. We have received His vindication and we find our rest in Him.

He is our God Who Sees us (Gen. 16:13) even in our moments of great distress. He sees our hidden and private pains. "He sees our needs, hears our prayers and comes to our aid in our times of trouble." (page 34)

He has proved to be our Comforter. (John 14:16)

He is the Lord Who Heals (Ex. 15:26). He touches our hearts and keeps them from growing hard. He may move slower than we (or others) might prefer, but He moves. He gives us sleep and rest, touches our hearts and makes us able to move beyond the wounds we receive in this world. He works all things together for our good, yes, and for His glory.

I am reminded of this song (You Have Been Good, by Twila Paris):

O, Lord, You have been good
You have been faithful to all generations
Oh Lord, You have been good
You have been faithful to all generations

For by Your hand we have been fed
And by Your spirit, we have been led
O, Lord, your steadfast love and tender mercies
have been our salvation

O, Lord, You have been good
You have been faithful
You have been good.

Friend, I really don't know where you are at in your walk. I don't need to know. I'm just here to say where I am: I am struggling, I am broken, I am imperfect, I am undeserving, I am pathetic, I am miserable, I even occasionally suffer from bad moods that Starbucks cannot heal. I don't always enjoy my "to do" lists. I don't dress like others, think like others, or act in ways that everyone expects me to. I make people mad at me and I get mad at other people. I am impatient with others and they are impatient with me. Sometimes I let the laundry pile up until it spills out of the laundry bin. (And still, I blog!)

But God is still good. He sees my imperfections and He knows them better than I do. Because He is Holy (Is. 43:15, page 36) He must separate Himself from sin. Because He has adopted me, He forgives me my sin and draws me close to Him.

"'When a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.'"

--The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

In SPITE of me, He is. He is more than I deserve. He is faithful, He is true. He has redeemed me and I cannot comprehend why. I can only say, "Thank You."


Catherine said...

Carrie, I'm in exactly the same place as you are -- broken, imperfect, feet of clay, etc. I, too, am leaning on my Lord and my God. I'm looking forward to reading the book -- might give it to myself as a Christmas present this year!

Through my mother's final illness and recent passing, I have gained a deeper meaning from Christ's birth that has made a difference in my perspective of Christmas.

I hope your holidays are peaceful!

CallMeIshmael said...

Amen, Carrie. I needed that reminder.

God bless you and yours this year. In Christ,
Your sister

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