Last year The Huffington Post asked its readers to define God in one word. Their top ten responses were: 10) Omnipotent; 9) Fiction; 8) Nonexistent; 7) Almighty; 6) Imaginary; 5) Amazing; 4) Creator; 3) Awesome; 2) Everything and 1) Love. That certainly is a range of answers, and would seem very contradictory and even confusing. How can there be so many different definitions of the same thing?
I remember a time when I took my family to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. My son was driving up a mountain on a very narrow road, and the rest of us were looking out at the scenery. Each one saw something different. I commented, “Wow! Look at the snow!” My wife remarked about the waterfalls. My daughter loved the trees. My son kept his eye on the road! We all looked at the same scenery and the same location, but each of us marveled at something different.
In the Bible, David calls God Shepherd and Jesus refers to Him in the Lord’s Prayer as the Father of all of us. It would seem that although God is universal, even those who believe in Him understand him in individual ways. Maybe that’s because one’s personal experience of God (or lack thereof) often determines one’s concept of Him. But God is more than our human experience of Him.
The search for God characterized the life of Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science. After decades of ill health, disappointment, widowhood and financial difficulty, she could easily have called God “Nonexistent.” Instead, she continually studied the Bible to understand God better. And she found this search to be a wonderful spiritual journey, which eventually resulted in her regaining health, joy and financial security.
Eddy came to realize that God is knowable, as well as tangible and she grasped that the nature of the Infinite is just that – infinite! Her findings led her to write, “God is universal; defined by no dogma, appropriated by no sect” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 150). This universal, infinite God does reveal Himself to each of us. But we need to keep our eyes open by acknowledging God and looking for evidence of those synonyms in our lives. What good would a trip through the mountains be with our eyes shut? The landscape of Love is right before us, only awaiting our attention to reward us with new views.