In the Hands of an “Angry” God

Is it a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God. Well, yes, according to the author of Hebrew 10:31 who some think was the Apostle Paul. But then I, as I am wont to do, must ask the question, “What does this mean?”

With this “literary license” that I employ here…as well as in real time very often…I take the liberty to suggest this interpretation, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the ‘hands’ of Life.” By this interpretation, I suggest that it is scary to suddenly become “alive” and to realize that until that point you have been largely “dead,” living life on automatic pilot. It is even scarier to suddenly realize that you spiritual life has been part of this “automatic pilot” , robot-like life in which everyday you basically asked of life to “wind me up and watch me be Christian” or whatever your spiritual persuasion may be. When this happens one is beginning to escape the clutches of the “letter of the law” that the Apostle Paul warned against.

And yes, life is scary. It is very frightening to suddenly realize, not just as an intellectual notion, but as a feeling in the depths of the heart what it means to be human. It is horrifying to suddenly no longer be able to hide behind/beneath the superficies of our existence….ideas, intense emotions, cultural contrivances (including “stuff”) and even out faith; for, in this moment of existential crisis we often have to embrace the superficiality of faith, realizing it has been “all about me.”

But though the pain can be intense, it can be a moment of redemption in which we discover the Grace that T. S. Eliot described as “a complete condition of simplicity costing not less than everything.” And Aesychlus’s reference to the “awful Grace of God” thousands of years ago reveals an ancient understanding of the ambiguity of an experience with our Source; for, there, standing naked before God (and often humankind) we can experience and embrace the Eternal juxtaposition of judgment and grace.

With a superficial reading of these thoughts it is easy to conclude that I see God as merely a label that we can apply to the life process itself and that, therefore, I don’t really believe in a God. Well, this is a complicated matter for I do believe in God but not in the “God” that I’ve hidden behind and escaped reality with most of my life. Here I am referring to a subjective experience that is available to all and when we get there we understand—cognitively, intuitively, and emotionally–that there is a transcendent dimension to live as well as an immanent one. Yes, God is “out there” in some sense but he is also “in here” in some sense which is what Paul had in mind with his declaration, “Nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

Yes, it is complicated. But reality…that is life itself…a process so intrinsically complicated that to willfully simplify it so that it will fit into our preconceptions is very dishonest and…yes…very human. It is so much easier to avoid asking the essential questions of life that can lead is into the very depths of the human experience, that very same “condition of complete simplicity costing not less than everything,” referred to earlier.

Here is a closing note from my dear friend and brother, W. H. Auden, “O blessed be bleak exposure on his sword we are pricked into coming alive.” That “sword” comes from “out there” beyond the “small bright circle of our consciousness beyond which lies the darkness.” (Conrad Aiken)


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