I have been inspired this week by Bible reading notes which talked about the danger of domesticating God. It is a term I have heard before but it struck me afresh this week – a sobering challenge not to try and house train a wild, unpredictable God, a God who is not designed to live indoors, a God who is not a “best friend”. There can be a bit of a temptation sometimes to try and tame God but it is a futile exercise. Is the very essence of God designed to “live outside”, outside of our churches, homes, chaplaincies, training institutions etc?
We have heard reports of people being mauled by wild animals they have sought to keep as pets. Also of staff who look after wild animals, and despite their best skills and practices, are caught out, surprised, by animals they have intimate cute names for, who turn on them and act out their natural instincts.
I am not saying this is how God would turn on the captors, but who knows what God might do next. God is in some ways predictable in what God will always do, be and not be and do. But when and how God continues to reveal and move can be unpredictable. This unpredictability can be seen as good or bad. This is not to say God would harm us or attack us, that’s not what I am saying, but having a relationship with God is not always the safe option. Even the phrase “our God” implies a sense of ownership. On the one hand I enjoy the benefit of the intimacy, but God is not mine to own like a possession. Perhaps I need to more often join with God on an adventure to observe, admire, and be willing to take the risk to play with a wild being that I can’t control.
Alistair Ross “Mountains and Valleys” in Words for Today 2013 edited by Nicola Slee. Birmingham: IBRA.