Not poles apart

This morning I was playing with magnets on the kitchen table with my 4-year-old daughter, Hannah. I loved magnets when I was a kid. Turns out, I still do. What is there not to love about magnets?

…unless, of course, you’re a car about to be picked up by one of those huge scrap yard magnets, only to be ripped apart or crushed to bits.

I was showing Hannah how, if you slowly slide a magnet along the table towards a stationary magnet, there comes a point when the stationary magnet suddenly jumps across the gap and latches on to the moving one. Hannah loved it. And each time she did it, it made her jump when the magnet lurched across the table top, making both of us laugh.

It reminded me of how I, and many people I know, are drawn towards the magnetic heart of God. How we can never stray too far from the loving heart of the Father and the (almost) irresistible person of Jesus.

And of how, in that magnetic heart of God, we find answers to our own, broken, human hearts.

As the years go by, I’m less convinced that Christianity or the Bible can necessarily give us all the intellectual answers we need to life and suffering. I was talking to a friend recently who as yet can’t find faith in God, although he would love to, because he can’t understand how an all-powerful God could allow the untold suffering, especially the most extreme forms, that goes on around the world.

I do sympathise with him and, even though I think Christianity can to a certain extent offer some explanation of that question (in fact, I recommended the Alpha course to him, which includes an evening just looking at the question of why God allows suffering), at the same time I’ve become increasingly content with not having all the answers; of living with divine mystery.

I realise that may sound like a cop-out. However, I think it’s borne out of a level of trust in God that’s developed, despite the questions, as a result of a time-tested, experiential faith over so many years now.

While I don’t believe Christianity or theology can necessarily entirely satisfy people’s intellectual questions about life and suffering, I do believe that…

…the person of Jesus – the heart of God ultimately uttered at the cross in self-debasing, sacrificial love – can and does answer the problems of the human heart – the problems of falsehood, hypocrisy, selfishness, brokenness, disconnectedness and fear, for example.

And that maybe the problems are more important than the questions.

That when we’re drawn like that magnet to the heart of God and we experience his compassion, mercy, love, forgiveness, companionship… our intellectual questions become less important and we’re better able to face the uncertainties and trials of this life. And better able to face not only the evil in the world around us, but even the sometimes unbearable darkness of our own hearts.

Maybe we were never intended to face suffering alone; maybe the answer to suffering lies, in part at least, in having the magnetic, empathic companionship of God with us in all our life experiences, transcending our trials.

The magnets also reminded me of that reassuring statement from the New Testament: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.” Like the magnet, it only takes a small movement from us, to compel the Father’s heart closer to ours.

When we take time to pray, we tend to find that surprising blessings emerge. Sometimes a change of circumstances, sometimes the strength to go on, or a change in our own heart or in someone else’s. And an entwining of our heart with God’s.

Prayer is like any relationship. When we invest time in prayer – even 5 minutes here and there (what matters most is genuineness, rather than how much time we give) – we find the relationship with God enriched, our lives enriched.

Thank God for magnets

and for his magnetic heart,

so that God and we don’t need

to be poles apart.

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(Wondering what this blog is all about, and who A Child of Grace is? Please read my About page.

Thanks! Roger N)

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4 thoughts on “Not poles apart

  1. Nancy Aguilera says:

    Love the magnet analogy. Your post is timely, and put me in mind of my pastors message last week: http://prescottchristian.com/sermons/i-am-jesus-audio
    Suffering. Trust. Not needing all the answers. Just knowing that God is in control. Feeling His arms literally around me. This comes from a long term intentional relationship with Him. Our human relationships need the same intention to develop this kind of trust, the just “knowing” for example that my husbands actions are done with the wellbeing of me, and our family, in mind. It’s an incredible release to know that he’s in my corner, that I know, without a word being said, that I am his. That came with years of knowing each other, of experiencing how he put us first. My relationship with God is similar. And that investment of a relationship with Him has also led me to that sweet comfort of not needing to know all the answers to my questions. I no longer stress about the future in the way I once used to, because that trust in Him has taught me to leave it in His hands. He’s thinking of me, He’s in “my corner” just like my husband is. It’s refreshing.

  2. Alan Freeman says:

    Reading this blog reminded me of two magnets I had when I was a child. They were in the shapes of small dogs, and sometimes I’d put one on the top of the table, then I’d put the other one on the underside of the table directly below the one above and moving the lower one I’d watch the one on top move seemingly of it’s own accord. Another picture of Christian living perhaps, our movements and actions reflecting the the way God moves and acts.

    I have sympathy for your friend who struggles with the idea of suffering, but I agree with what you say about God answering the problems of the human heart. Also, it’s good to remember that he can identify with suffering because Jesus suffered too. “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities.”

    I’m currently re-reading What’s so amazing about Grace. Philip Yancey quotes a chap called H Richard Niebuhr – “The great Christian revolutions come not by the discovery of something that was not known before. They happen when somebody takes radically something that was already there.” It seems to me that the magnetic love of God is one of those things.

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