I experienced both today. Gas Works Park is just north of Lake Union and downtown Seattle. This is an old picture with my sisters and mom in the lower center, but the day was identical in beauty.
Despite having lived in Seattle for (some rather large) chunks of the last 10 years, I had never been there before. So, after Vacation Bible School and lunch with Tricia, I headed out with the Squishy blanket from my car. Four hours later, I was slightly sunburnt.
I also decided to take advantage of the relative solitude to practice the spiritual discipline of silence. I’ve spent a lot of time asking God questions lately, and today was a good reminder that He has things to say to me that don’t fit into the framework of the direct answer to a direct question. It’s so simple…but so easy to forget that God’s ways aren’t usually my ways.
One realization of the day, thanks to the graciousness of God to point it out, is that I have been thinking of God as if He had multiple personalities. The God I know and love and serve here is the same God I knew and loved and served in Arizona, in Macedonia, in Mexico, etc. I think that the combination of different language use and different emphases in different communities (which is not necessarily bad in and of itself) was filtered through my head in a not-so-healthy way.
The whole relationship between language use and concept formation is already the subject of many books, so I’m not getting into it here, though it fascinates me. For the purposes of today, I needed to recognize that no matter how we label or describe God, He remains the same. No matter what we emphasize or even like the most about God, He is not changing. My understanding of Who He is should continue to grow, and the words I use to describe Him may change, but He does not. The aspects of His character that I grew to appreciate in one place have not changed.
Our memory verse from VBS for yesterday, Isaiah 44:6, corrects the multiple-personality God idea: “I am the first and the last, and beside Me there is no God.”