“I’m God, you’re not,” is what God said to me on a retreat a long long time ago. It’s also a way of thinking about the first commandment: I am the Lord your God, you shall not have false gods before me. From time to time I am reminded to remember the point, especially when I am frustrated about things I care deeply about but cannot change. I know I’m in trouble when I start sentences like: “God, if you would just…”
It’s easy to think everything depends on me, after all, who else will do it? (whatever “it” is). I get a little compulsive and uptight sometimes and ratchet up the control knobs, worrying if I will do things right, and thinking everything depends on me. I get a little afraid.
“I’m God, you’re not,” begs the question: who is God for you? It could be an invitation to explore who God is for you, in whatever way you know God. How would you describe God? Is God a pervasive, mysterious and benevolent force? A higher power, a father, a mother? A universal energy, a judge or a guide? There are so many names for God. A favorite name for God for me is from the image and message in Jeremiah 18: “You are the potter, I am the clay.”
Having worked with clay as a potter for over 20 years, clay is a powerful image of God working with me. God knows my “clay ” centering, opening, pushing, pulling, shaping and refining my life all the time. Making pots is a contemplative practice that is exhilarating and humbling at the same time. Finished work that is both functional and beautiful gives me great pleasure. And I love that people like my work. But it is also humbling – just look at my pile of failures: runny glazes, cracked bottoms, ideas that failed, lids that don’t fit.
Who is God for you? If you could hear God say your name, what would it sound like? Why not try it? Go ahead. Say you name OUT LOUD.
Sorry for shouting, but it makes a difference. When you hear your name out loud as if God were saying it, you speak it in a softer, gentler tone and this opens a door to understanding how you are with God. You might also find another favorite passage helpful. In Isaiah 43:1 God says: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”
When I am not being in the God-mode, I am happier, less stressed, more fun to be with, more of a team player, and I feel freer to live unafraid. “I’m God, you’re not.” It sounds simplistic, and it’s hard sometimes to remember that powerful phrase when responsibilities loom large, or that feeling of being overwhelmed begins to intrude, or that sense that big things depend on me.
Dear God, today, I want to resubmit my resignation from the job of being You. Help me to enjoy the freedom of not being You. Take away my fear and help me to know again that you are God and I’m not. Amen.
What a relief.