One of the hardest things for me, growing up, was being unable to see God as a flesh and blood person. I’m very relational, and I connect best with people face-to-face. Nevertheless, in spite of this handicap in my relating to God, I’ve grown tremendously in faith and in my understanding of His Word over the years.
Recently, He has started to unveil Himself to me, in ways that make Him “really real”. One of those ways was through the revelation that people “being made in His image” indicates that we can learn a lot about Him simply by looking at the neutral and positive aspects of males and females. (The negative aspects reflect sin’s effect on His perfect creation.)
There’s a little exercise I like to do now, where I pick a friend or family member and examine them for the ways in which they reveal the image of God. I’ll show you what I mean and then you can do it for yourself; you’ll see how real God gets! :)
1. God loves to color. He has quite the artistic streak, actually. He can sculpt, paint, draw…but He doesn’t brag about it or make you feel bad if you can’t do those things. And He loves putting His stuff out there for other people to enjoy, without signing His name all over it in giant letters. I learned this from my friend Noble.
2. God has tremendous insights into people and what they’re *really* about. He sees the hidden reasons behave certain ways and He understands what our strengths and weaknesses are. He won’t hesitate to give us insight into the people we’re trying to love, if we just take a minute to ask Him for it. I learned all this from my friend Siobhan. She has an uncanny ability to see into people and it makes her less judgmental and more compassionate than the average person — definitely the image of God.
3. He loves it when people tell stories about Him. He’s quick to chime in with His Word and make sure we have all the details right and He even loves to take us a little deeper into the story, if we show the slightest interest. I learned this from my daughter. She loves hearing us tell stories about her and she’ll even reveal parts of the story we didn’t know about when it seems like we’re sincerely interested.
4. He has a *great* sense of humor. He loves to laugh and He loves to make other people laugh. He relishes a long story with an excellent punchline and if you want to hear a favorite, He doesn’t mind telling it again. I learned this from my daddy.
5. He loves to provide for us and even take it a step further, surprising us with little gifts that we don’t technically NEED…they just make life a little more pleasant. And He loves it when we receive these gifts with joy, excitement and gratitude. It bums Him out a little bit when we don’t notice a gift or we complain because it wasn’t quite what we were hoping for. I learned this from my husband.
6. God has mothering characteristics, even though He’s taught us to refer to Him in the male person. He loves creating life and He loves taking care of it. You’re His favorite creation but so am I — just in a different way. It breaks His heart when we make choices that hurt us. He wants to spare us from the consequences — and sometimes, in His mercy, He does — but most of the time, out of love and a desire for our ultimate well-being, He allows us to suffer the consequences of the choices we make. But He’s quick to soothe us, even in the suffering we bring on ourselves. I learned this from my friend, Kari-Lynn, and from being a mother myself.
7. Did you know that Jesus intercedes for us in prayer and the Holy Spirit prays with us, when we don’t know what to say or how to say it? I’ve actually known this about God for a long time but just recently, He’s further revealed this part of Himself through my friendship with Kristen. She is always willing to pray for me when I ask her to, and she often prays for my requests in ways I hadn’t even thought of doing. I’ve taken to asking Jesus to pray for me when I’m feeling especially overwhelmed or “beside myself”. And I am immensely comforted when I’m struggling to pray for someone my heart is heavy for because I know that the Holy Spirit is lifting up my requests in ways I hadn’t even thought of doing.
I could go on and on. There are so many people in my life who reflect the character of God — the music minister at my church who loves music so much, he can’t stand still; my grandmother in California who generously lavished a trip to Disney on us ‘just because’; my friend Becky who makes time for me even though she has a MILLIONTY things on her plate right now — on and on and on, people who reveal aspects of God’s personality and character, making Him really real in ways I never experienced before.
Nothing puts me in better spirits than to examine the image of God all around me *and* to realize how many wonderful people He’s put in my life!
Try this exercise yourself and see if it doesn’t put a little more joy in your day. ;)