Ok, so I imagine that’s a pretty controversial title for many, so let state in simple terms what I’m getting at first and then seek to unpack it as I move on.
Here’s the problem: this sort of language, as reverent as it may sound at first, still puts us in the ‘driver’s seat’ of our life. Yet the great irony is that you never will really experience God as the centre of everything until you absolutely know for sure that you, nor I nor anyone else can ‘put’ God anywhere.
I guess what I am saying is that the language or ‘putting God at the centre’ can exist only as picture to inform the mind’s eye. The second it moves past this and becomes such an application point for getting our lives back on track, it becomes one more self-help methodology and hence immediately loses its power.
In short, to put God at the centre of our lives in order to get our lives back on track, is actually just a righteous-sounding way of maintaining our illusion that it’s all about us.
But it’s not.
As Paul point’s out in Acts 17:28 “For in him we live and move and have our being.”
We’re not merely a blip on the radar, we’re a blip on God’s radar and it’s God’s radar that really matters and really gives life its significance.
I believe this is the single hardest thing for a finite being like me to get my head around. Because in a sense, we are doomed by our own very language. We need personal revelation form God via the Holy Spirit precisely because without it, our understanding is based on finite words.
It is unfortunate that we cannot use finite language to refer to the infinite without somehow ‘degrading’ the infinite-ness of what we’re talking about.
And so, here a classic example presents itself.
There’s no simpler way to refer to recognising that our lives don’t make sense without God, than to talk about placing him at the centre. Yet in the very act of asserting this, we paint a picture of ourselves choosing where God goes. Thus to leave this as a ‘fridge magnet’ style idiom without explaining it further and allowing room for the Spirit to reveal it’s full significance is extremely dangerous.
I used to think in these terms:
When you make life all about you, it actually starts to fall apart, but when you make it all about God, it all starts to make sense.
I tried to live this idiom out for many years and I imagine that others have tried as well…..and found only disappointment with God. It took me ages to figure out why this doesn’t work. (I wonder sometimes if some folks have lost their faith after such a confusing struggle) But it doesn’t work because we’re still trying to employ some technique, some….equation to get ultimate fulfilment.
I realised that there’s only one real answer: To be completely struck with the truth; that I am utterly helpless until God reveals to me where I fit in his plan, his story. It is totally up to God whether he allows this. It is totally up to God whether he tells me or lets me flounder in confusion for the rest of my life. THIS is what it means to fall into the hands of God, This is what it means to totally rely on his grace.
This is what it means to really know that I can only have (posses/attain) my being (action/role/significance/fulfilment) in him.
Often this revelation only comes to us after a time of enduring suffering. But because God is good: it does come. Remember this?:
Job 38: THEN God Spoke to Job out of the storm: “who is this that questions my wisdom, with such ignorant words? Brace yourself like a man for I have some questions for you and you must answer them.” “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (v19) Where does light come from and where does darkeness go?” (V33) “Do you know the laws of the universe and can you use them to regulate the earth?”…….you get the idea.
Here’s the point: after all this questioning from God, I find Job’s final answer completely fascinating:
Job 42:5 “I used to live on rumours of you, but now I have seen you with my own eyes.”
I wonder how many of us are trying to struggle through living only upon ‘rumours of God’? But to really hear from God is not to ‘place him at the centre of our lives’ but to come to the cataclysmic realisation that we can’t put him anywhere. We are absolutely reliant on him to make himself known to us and when we realise who God really is…
We find out how small we are.
And the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his (notice the order) glory and grace.