How do you picture God if you believe in him at all?
What does he look like in your mind’s eye? Is he tall and skinny, short and stocky? Is he a giant? Does he have long flowing hair or wear a marine sergeant buzz? Blue eyes or brown? Do you picture him old and gray or young and vibrant? Do you even picture him as a him?
More important is how you imagine his countenance. Do you see him as a brooding, number crunching, no-nonsense CEO type God, or a happy go lucky, let’s have a party kind of God? What is his disposition toward you? Would he give you his undivided attention or is he too busy to give you the time of day? What kind of expression does he wear in your head when he focuses on you? Is it a stern, judgmental stare or a loving, joyous grin? Is he ready to slap you down or gobble you into a loving embrace?
Most of my life when I have thought about how God looks at me, I have pictured him with a disappointed scowl on his face, like the one my father-in-law wore the day his daughter married me. Even now, after all these years of being a Christian, I often picture God giving me what I deserve, starting with that scowl. But I am slowly learning to feel his love for me, to see him as a strong and loving father who actually loves his time with me and delights to shower me with gifts, like grace overflowing my cup so much that the cup is floating next to me in an ocean of grace.
Here is a question you never hear: Do you think God is happy?
For me it is hard to imagine. I mean, running the universe is serious business. Isn’t it? Mankind as a whole has been disappointingly indifferent to God’s purposes and even his very existence. I mentioned my friend Mike in the fourth post of this series. His words come back to me now: “Even if there is a God, who cares?” It shocks and saddens me to know that not only are there people who say they don’t believe in God but there are many who say he doesn’t matter, that God, if he does exist, is insignificant. So, I think to myself, how can God possibly be happy? How can he not wear a disappointed scowl?
I often forget that God sees all the good, too. He sees a busy girl cancel appointments to sit and talk with a lonely old man, and it warms his heart. He sees a freezing, homeless man give his only blanket to another, and it delights him. He sees a financially strapped young woman take a job without pay to help at-risk women in her community, and his eyes light up. He sees a young couple choose to teach their child about him, and he nods his approval. He sees a young man warmly welcome a vagrant into his football party, get him some food and drink and give him the best seat in front of the TV and God says, “Yes! That is what I want from you,” and he smiles joyfully.
Mankind did not invent the smile or laughter. We didn’t invent joy. It is an attribute of God, and to us, a gift from him. We didn’t invent compassion or hope or mercy or grace. With these good things naturally come the emotions they are tied to, namely love and joy. Love and joy can flow only from a loving and joyful source. So yes, God is happy. He smiles and he laughs and he loves. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t feel pain and disappointment when we choose to sin, and it doesn’t mean he isn’t hurt when people turn their backs on him, but he won’t love us any less and he will not lose his hope for us. He will leave the flock to search for you to show you the way home so you can share in his joy.
That was another excerpt from my book, which is still nameless at this point.