I have this picture of God. And maybe it came from a sermon I heard long ago, but, to be honest, I don't remember.
You know those boxes that you open up and right inside is another box, just ever so slightly smaller, inside that one is another smaller box and then another and another and so on?
My faith - my understanding of God - started in the centre box, the smallest one. And you know what - being as it was all I knew - it was pretty comfortable.
One day something came along and that box crumbled away, and I found myself in a slightly different box.
And then a while later that new box got hammered down and this time I was in another box, a little bigger and a strangely different sort of shape.
It sure felt different.
I can only understand God to the point my experience really allows. And each time I break out of my current box I find a different sort of face to God. What I knew before is still there but somehow it's different, it's more. And sometimes it's harder.
That breaking out of my current box sometimes looks more like me being shoved out, falling out: or even the box simply disintegrating before my eyes.
Sometimes it is scary and it is shaking.
Each time I find myself faced with a slightly bigger and maybe different shaped box it's that first box that keeps me grounded. In that first box is my belief that God exists and that God loves me.
So, whilst I can find myself drifting around in these bigger boxes not really sure what to make of this God: how to reconcile this God with the God I previously thought that He was, I rest on that first box and go from there.
This picture allows me to be okay with my understanding of God right now, to be okay with the fact that other people understand God entirely different to how I do and it reminds me not to fall into the trap of thinking I know all there is to know about God.
It also forces me to push for more. To refuse to let my faith become stagnant. It means that whilst some boxes are ripped from around me by situations and events, other ones I tear down with my bare hands: desperately seeking out more of who God is and what He is doing.
What it also means is that whilst this picture helps me to understand God, I realise it in no way defines Him, because one day I might break down my box to find God doesn't fit this picture at all anymore. And that's okay.
It's pretty ironic considering I really do not think we should put God in a box. But somehow these limitless boxes show me how God limits Himself, so that I may know Him, whilst still functioning in my life outside of the constraints my human-ness puts on Him.
So that even as all that I am feeling and experiencing and going through is crumbling away and I don't see how the God I know can make that good. I, somehow, know that He sits with me here in the hurt and confusion as well as going beyond my understanding: fulfilling His promises to us in a cosmos-changing, intergallatically inspiring, pretty bloomin' awesome, most miraculous way.
He always wins. Especially when I can't quite see beyond my little box.