Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I AM

I AM. That's what God said when Moses asked God what he should tell the Hebrews when they asked who sent Moses (Exodus 3:13-15). I've never really understood that name. I AM? What does that mean? This took place during the exchange between God and Moses when "the angel of the Lord appeared to him as a blazing fire in a bush" (Exodus 3:2, NLT), and I know that God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, but I can't help but imagine God beginning to lose his patience as Moses gives excuse after excuse after excuse for why God should choose someone else. I imagine God saying, in a fed-up, thundering voice, "I AM," just like I would if my kids were being difficult. In reality, it was probably quite different, since God is slow to anger and all. In fact, it isn't until Exodus 4:14 that "the Lord became angry with Moses." You can read the whole story in Exodus 3 and 4 (well, not really the whole story, but the part I'm talking about).

Different translations say things like "I AM who I AM" or "I WILL BE what I WILL BE," but the New Living Translation that I'm reading says, "I AM THE ONE WHO ALWAYS IS." To me this means that God is who and what God is, regardless of our perception of God. We can choose to see God any way we want: loving, vengeful, neglectful, micro-managing, compassionate. But that doesn't mean those things are what God is, just because that's what we think of God. God just is, and God never changes.

I've noticed that the pastors at our church don't use gender specific pronouns when referring to God. One of our pastors always says something like "may God add God's blessing to the hearing and the something and carrying out of God's word" after reading scripture, before delivering the message. It's a little cumbersome, like when I'm trying to be gramatically correct and say he or she instead of they or his or hers instead of theirs (I had a really rough set of council minutes one time because of that). But it makes sense to me to not use pronouns for God. God is so...big and powerful and amazing and indescribable. It's impossible to explain or define God in human terms, and when we try, we fall pitiously short. I suppose that's why there are so darn many names for God, because how can we contain this God, creator and sustainer of the universe, in just one name?

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