Monday, July 2, 2012

What does God look like?

Sometimes our daughter Kate asks a question, and I wonder if she has a box of cards in her room marked “Interesting Icebreakers for Your Family.” Recently, she asked Cheryl and me if we mostly thought about the past, the present, or the future.

“Past and future,” I thought. In a typical 5-minute span, I can remember something someone said in high school and then think, “I’d really like to hike the Inca Trail someday.”

My wife, without hesitation, said, “The present.”

And so, in an effort to be more in “the present,” I’m going to write a little about my view of God (right now).


“When you think of God, do you think of a physical presence?”

Susan Campbell, author of Dating Jesus, asked me that a few weeks ago. I thought, “Hey, I’m the one doing the interview here. Shouldn’t I be asking all the questions?”

Then, I trod carefully into my answer, mainly because I hadn’t ever given it much thought:

“I … you know, I don’t think I have a good, uh, God image. I mean, what I do is … when I think or meditate or pray, I imagine sort of an invisible mist around me. That He’s here. This idea of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. That I’m surrounded by Them. And that’s what I’m thinking in my best moments. Most of the day, I’m just doing what needs to be done [without giving much thought to God].”

I could tell that Susan had considered this a good deal more than I had. She said:

“For me, I’ve always had to envision a physical entity. I’m very visual. And God, for the longest time—even though I never told anyone this at church—I’d always thought of God as this old Cherokee woman sitting on a deerskin. I think of God, not as this vengeful male entity that I [had pictured] growing up, but as this very patient older woman. You cannot surprise Her. You cannot offend Her. We’re all going to be able to relax a little bit. It’s not going to be this, ‘Okay, here’s what you did wrong.’ People are going to get credit for trying. I take comfort in that.”

I agree. Although the picture in my head is still fuzzy, I see God more and more in this light. A kinder, gentler, more loving God. A God of comfort.


How about you? How do you see God?


  1. I think of Jesus in Revelation Chapter 1. How He is now.

  2. "His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength." Good scripture, Ellie Ray. Thanks! :)

  3. Mike,
    Brian Wren wrote a beautiful hymn about this stuff, "Bring Many Names". I'd be surprised if many Churches of Christ sing it. We didn't growing up but I think it's a fairly new hymn and I go to a United Church of Christ now.
    I find that my image of God changes somewhat with what's going on. When my wife and I had two miscarriages I found the image of God as a kind of grandmother comforting. When I see something like a turkey I think of God as a goofy middle schooler in art class.

    Bob Perkins

    1. Amen, Bob. I just looked up the lyrics to "Bring Many Names" -- good stuff. I especially liked "Warm father God."