One of my favorite images can be found in the Book of Jeremiah, which is especially useful for those who fear God may be the evil trickster inviting them to change, only to trap them into a miserable life. Jeremiah’s God says otherwise: “‘Surely I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD, ‘plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope’” (Jer. 29:11). God wants only the best for you, says Jeremiah.
You may also find some newer, more modern, images like the God of Surprises, who astonishes you with new and unexpected invitations to grow. Or perhaps you’ll come up with images of your own. One Jesuit friend was once on a long cross-country trip and ended up stranded in an unfamiliar airport, with all his flights canceled. A cheery travel agent patiently helped him sort everything out so he could book a new flight. It was a striking image of God, he said: someone who helps you find your way home.
“My, how foolish I am!” my friend cries, suddenly alert, like a woman remembering too late she has biscuits in the oven. “You know what I’ve always thought?” she asks in a tone of discovery, and not smiling at me but a point beyond. “I’ve always thought a body would have to be sick and dying before they saw the Lord. And I imagined that when He came it would be like looking at the Baptist window: pretty as colored glass with the sun pouring through, such a shine you don’t know it’s getting dark. And it’s been a comfort: to think of that shine taking away all the spooky feeling. But I’ll wager it never happens. I’ll wager at the very end a body realizes the Lord has already shown Himself. That things as they are”—her hand circles in a gesture that gathers clouds and kites and grass and Queenie pawing earth over her bone—“just what they’ve always seen, was seeing Him. As for me, I could leave the world with today in my eyes.”
A Christmas Memory