Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hi, my name is God

Surprise! Another quirky and wonderful find from scripture this week = how God introduces himself.

When I answer the phone, it's usually, "Hi, Rosemarie here." The kids had to say, "Hello, K... residence," and my husband answers with his full name. We're happy to exchange names when we shake hands and meet new people.

Scriptural names not only identified people by name, but described the character of the person, or the expectations and experiences of their parents. So when God introduces himself, he tells us what he's like.

God promises his servant Moses a visit. Here's the account:

Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,

"Yahweh! The LORD!  The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.

But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations." Exodus 34:5–7 NLT

When God describes himself, he doesn't say, "Hey, I'm the big one around here. Tah-DAH, look at me!" He talks about his compassion and mercy, his patience, love, and integrity. He LAVISHES love, though to be just, he must punish those who refuse to live by his holy standards. (All of us have paid for the sins of others at some time or another, and God promises to give full justice. What a relief.)

I felt a strange disconnect last night, watching the first three episodes of the Mary Tyler Moore show (first time ever). The show was pretty risque, back in the day, tackling issues like the crabby, alcoholic and sexist boss, the swarmy, dumb, but handsome, news anchor, and by-the-book, gone-wrong, parenting by friends and coworkers. 

Something seemed off in the presentation, until I noticed what was making me doubt its comparison to real life. This was it: 
  • Mary's housemates popped in and out of her apartment (as did her boss, writing a drunken letter to his wife... the first evening after she started work). Apparently people didn't feel the need to lock their door against intruders in the "big city" of Minneapolis in the 1960s and 70s.
  • No one called the police to haul the boss away, or to sue him for sexist behavior. 
  • She didn't put a "do not disturb" sign on her door, but listened to the people drifting in and out of her flat. Weird. 
  • Her friend dropped her 10-year-old off with Mary, who let the child run out to the corner store for TV dinners ("Put it on my account." There's trust! Plus, I remember how awful take-out food was, and how women who cooked looked down on those who bought instant meals.)
In gaining the "freedom" to do whatever we want, regardless of morals or standards, we've lost our sense of close community and safety. Children live with multiple "parents," sometimes here or there. We drift through relationships without ever finding our heart's home. And we sure can't rely on others to follow through with work or friendships, if they find more convenient options elsewhere.

All the while, God invites us to align ourselves with his nature, rather than to abandon the Great and Good, But Difficult. He promises us his unfailing love and kindness. He introduces himself to us as the faithful One who never changes, whom we can trust without reservation. 

I'm so grateful to be secure, held through the storms of life, regardless of what others do or say. The One who made us knows how to prepare our quiet place of refuge, if we will trust and obey. I want to be someone who is trustworthy and lives with integrity, because the God who introduces himself as Yahweh is boss of me. 

What would your name be, if it described you? I wonder what those around would name me, too. 

Read more:
* O Lord God, you have only begun to show your servant your greatness and your might! Deuteronomy 3:24

*Set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he
is revealed. 1 Peter 1:13

Moravian Prayer: Eternal God, your promises for our future fill us with excitement. We spend this day, tomorrow and the next day with you. You have promised to keep us for all eternity. Your glory fills our hearts. Amen.

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