This is an image I often draw when I’m in conversation with people about serious stuff in their lives.
I ask them “is this how you experience life?” Responses range from ‘you’ve got be joking/chance would be a fine thing/is it heck?
And I agree with them, it’s not generally how I experience life either BUT what if it were a picture of how life at its best was meant to be experienced?
What if we were able to permanentely find ourselves in a peaceful place basking in sunshine, warm, safe and relaxed?
This image is much more profound than it looks (don’t laugh – this is the full colour version, no expense spared but Rublev’s icon it’s not!). It is not a literal picture of what life should be like, it’s a metaphor. (And all metaphors are flawed, so before anyone else says it, this one breaks down at the point where someone says ‘skin cancer or sun cream’…. or does it?)
Believe it or not, this is a picture of God and it is also a picture of how we should/could be in relation to God. And it’s NOT a picture of the future eg lounging around in Heaven when we die, it’s a picture for right now, your life, my life, whatever else is going on.
It is my best shot at depicting the Trinity – God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Please don’t think that the ‘trinity’ is an obscure theological term that can’t possibly be relevant to you, this picture shows you how you fit in: God is one, the Bible teaches but we experience God in three different ways.
God the Father – ‘the source of all life and being’ as we say in our creed. In my sketch, God the Father is the actual sun, that big ball of fire 93 million miles away that we cannot look at directly with our unprotected eyes, yet is the source and reason for all life and living on this planet. The Bible teaches us that God the Father is the creator and sustainer of life but also that we cannot picture him because ‘he’ dwells in light too glorious for our comprehension. (Forgive the gender based pronouns, I fight them where I can because God is incorporates all gender).
God the Son – Jesus called himself ‘the light of the world. Light is the second way we experience the Sun. Light is absoulutely of an essence with the actual sun itself and yet it is also an entity of it’s own. Light is the quality that makes things clear, that reveals. And Jesus came to reveal to us the nature and character of God. He constantly referred to the Father as his source and that there was nothing about him that was not also true of the Father. So in Jesus we ‘see’ God.
God the Holy Spirit – in my diagram the Holy Spirit is represented by symbols for heat or warmth. Warmth is an unseen quality yet it quietly transforms our enviroment. Imagine coming into a cold house on a cold day and turning on the heating, you’ll only take your coat off and relax once the warmth has kicked in. The Holy Spirit is the felt presence of God, the third way in which we experience God.
(Warning: this is a really simple explanation of profound theological truth, people have filled whole libraries with thoughts about the Trinity, so my contribution to this weighty debate feels a bit ‘Winnie the Pooh’ ish but if you can identify with a loving bear of very little brain… I think it has something to offer).
I like this picture of the Trinity, above all others, because of the person on the sun-lounger. I can place myself in this image, in fact I’m meant to place myself in this image. Who God is and how we experience ‘him’ is not some abstract piece of theology that is irrelvant to my daily life.
I am meant to live life on the sun-lounger! God’s desire is that I live a life immersed in the presence of God: God in creation, God in revelation, God in present reality. Basking in the love of God, being transformed by the love of God and being empowered by the love of God and to live my life out of a sense of worthiness, belonging and connection.
So WHAT IF THIS IS HOW LIFE IS MEANT TO BE LIVED? Entertain that possibility at least for a moment.
I know it might not feel like your experience and I admit it doesn’t always feel like mine but what if this is the ‘big picture’ of a reality that is true regardless of my experience?
Wouldn’t you like to put yourself in this picture?
In my experience we are the ones who rule ourselves out of this picture: ‘I’m not sure I can believe that’, ‘there must be a catch’, ‘if God is really so loving then why….’, ‘surely I have to earn the love of God?’, ‘you don’t know me, I’m definitely not worthy…’
In Romans 8 there is a passage that says that nothing can separate us from the love of God, there is a great long pretty inclusive list of stuff that CANNOT separate us from the love of God. If you pardon my language, here is my paraphase ‘None of the crap that is out there in the world can separate you from the love of God’ and actually none of the crap that is in you can separate you from the love of God’ – except that it can… because we hold on to it. We hold on to all those reasons why we couldn’t be worthy, be a child of God, be loved. In short we don’t allow ourselves to dare to believe this big picture.
(You might also want to read Negative self – talk – ‘stopping the ticker tape of internal self destruction’
As Christians we are called to live inside the truth of this big picture or perhaps more accurately we are meant get the truth of this big picture inside of ourselves.
Can we live, walk, sleep, work, eat, love, serve, relate, study out of knowing that we are always lovingly held in the gaze of God?
(See also ‘A Smile that Embraces you‘)
Can we allow ourselves to believe that this love of God might be as ‘faithful’, comprehensive and pervasive as the light from our own sun?
A Persian poet Hafez, lived a long time ago but said something equally simple and yet profound about the sun and the love of God, even though God’s name is not even mentioned.
The Sun Never Says
Even after all this time
the sun never says to the earth
‘You owe me.’
Look what happens with
a love like that.
It lights up the whole sky.