Am I Too Familiar with God?

I’m reading Charles Stanley’s book, Listening to God, on my Kindle. In the section I read this morning he outlines the aspects of active listening to God – things like listening carefully, submissively, attentively, and today’s characteristic, listening reverently. At the end of this brief section he poses the question, “Do you enter God’s presence with a sense of humility, or with a sense of familiarity?”

Both, I think. The God I love wants familiarity. Jesus welcomed little children in his ministry, and said we must approach the kingdom of heaven with child-like faith and trust. I have an image in my mind of Jesus kneeling down and pulling a child into an embrace. Do you remember the iconic photo of JFK Jr peeking out from beneath his father’s desk in the Oval Office? That photo became an instant favorite of millions because, in part, it gave the American people a glimpse at the paternalistic, indulgent side of the man called the Most Powerful Man in the Free World. In a way, it humanized the office of the president.

And yet, Stanley’s question made me consider another aspect of God. He is the all-powerful, omniscient, omnipotent, majestic Creator of the universe, and not only deserves our respect, but our reverence. In C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, when the children first hear about the great lion, Aslan, they ask, “Is he safe?” Mr. Beaver replies, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

I am reminded of Isaiah’s description in chapter 6:
In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Seeing God in all His majesty, Isaiah didn’t run forward with outspread arms. In fact, he was overcome with his own unworthiness to be in the presence of such glory. Similarly, when the Apostle John describes seeing God in the book of Revelation, he fell at his feet. This was the man who knew Jesus as well as, if not better than, anyone on earth.

I realized that I tend to skip into the Throne Room (in prayer) with my daily list of requests, as though spending a few minutes of fellowship with me is the highlight of God’s day. Sort of like when I was a child, and I assumed my grandmother had no life outside my weekend visits, but just sat around the kitchen table all gloomy and bored until I burst through the door to brighten her day.

I know that God is multi-faceted, and there are many aspects to His character. Loving Father is one, and Glorious King of the Universe is another, and those aspects can co-exist. I love being able to skip into the throne room, to crawl up in my Father’s lap and spend time with him. But I never want to forget that while He is always good, He is not necessarily safe. When I forget that, I become complacent. I run the risk of trying to conform God to my character, of trying to mold him into my idea of what a loving king should be. What I really want to do is allow Him to conform me to His character.