159 – Do You Really Know Who God Is? Part 1

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Do You Really Know Who God Is? Part 1 Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungWe’ve heard it before: “God is my everything.” It’s true, but do you really know what that means? He’s so much more than we can imagine. So come go deeper into just a few of the attributes of God and learn what those particular attributes mean to your writing career and your life.

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Erin: Welcome listeners. We’re glad that you’re here with us in the deep. It’s still pretty early in the year, and we want to encourage you to make this year one where you deliberately seek a better and more accurate picture of who God is.

I’ve been reading, very slowly, a book called Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozer. I just love what he has to say. I think it’s so wise. He says that he thinks that the church has a problem. It’s the “loss of the concept of majesty from the popular religious mind. The church has surrendered her once lofty concept of God and has substituted for it one so low, so ignoble as to be utterly unworthy of thinking, worshipping people.”

Ouch, right? He goes on to say, “This, she has not done deliberately, but little by little and without her knowledge, and her very unawareness only makes her situation all the more tragic.” 

Karen: We can’t be still and know that God is God if we have a wrong concept of who God is. We wanted to share some attributes of God and why they matter to us as individuals and as writers.

Erin: Right. So Karen and I were having fun with this. We’ve been just thinking of different attributes and pondering over the course of the last couple of weeks, so we’re just gonna go for it. 

God is Transcendent

The first one I thought of is that God is transcendent. I realize that’s a fancy word. I’ve always kind of wondered what it meant. But for me, the idea of God being transcendent, I like to define it as “totally other.” It’s like with our human thought, we can’t truly comprehend or imagine who God is. Or what. 

He’s not us. He’s so totally different from us in his substance. We can’t minimize him. We can’t make him like us. I think we have a tendency to try to anthropomorphize God too much, make him too human. But he’s not. He’s beyond.

Then I start thinking about how crossing the gulf of who God is to who we are is completely unattainable, except that God crossed that gulf for us. He reached out to us. It’s because of who he is that we can even relate to him. 

Then I start thinking about what does that mean for a writer? For me, it brings up awe. It brings up reverence. It brings a sense of humility that this God would reach to us. And it brings a sense of gratitude. I don’t want to forget how dependent I am. That he reaches out to us. That he draws us to him. I want to keep acknowledging my need for him to keep doing it. I can’t claw my way to him. It’s him who reaches out to me and to us. 

God is the Alpha and the Omega

Karen: God is also the Alpha and the Omega. I love this for a number of reasons. Revelation 1:8, I’m sure you all have heard it before: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning, and the end’ says the Lord, God. ‘I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come. The Almighty One.'”

The reason that I like this so much is that when we consider God being the Alpha and the Omega, not just of the world, but bring it down in a macro sense and think about it in our own lives. He is the God of our beginning, the God of our end, and the God of everything in between. 

We never have to feel as though God was with us when we were born and growing up and suddenly he’s not there anymore. Or in the beginning of our career, and things went one way, and then suddenly it changes, and we’re wondering where God is. If we have those feelings, they’re false. They’re from the enemy.

God is there for the beginning, the end, and everything in between. He is our Alpha and Omega for us as individuals and as writers. 

Erin: I love those words. There’s another verse that I like. It’s Isaiah 44:6, and it says, “This is what the Lord says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the Lord Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God.”

What do I like about that? First and last. It’s just constantly giving us a sense of who God is. He’s the only first and last. There is no other first and last.

God is Preexistent

When Karen and I were thinking about the attributes, it was fun to think about how similar some of our attributes were. I’d thought of that God is preexistent, which reminds me of the Alpha and the Omega. He has no beginning and he has no end. My little brain struggles with that. He has no beginning. He just always was. That’s what it means to be God: to be always. Who was, who is, and who always will be. That’s who God is.

People, we’re the ones with the beginning. We’re the created things. God’s timeless. He’s outside of time. He made time. He’s been there, done that. He purposed us into existence. One of my favorite verses Hebrews 1:3, where we learn that Jesus is sustaining all things by his powerful word. He’s holding everything up. He started it all. It starts with him. It ends with him.

For writers, I think about God’s integrity. It’s his moral code that matters because he started it all. He started us. He created us, and so he has that right. He can set the rules, and it’s our job to submit to that, because he’s the beginning.

Jesus is the Rose of Sharon

Karen: I also like the idea, the attribute of God, that he’s the Rose of Sharon. That’s from one verse in Song of Songs when the bride is telling her husband that she’s the rose of Sharon and a lily of the valley. It sounds like she’s boasting, but she’s really not. She simply telling him this is who I am. This is the beauty of who I am with you, and the beauty of our love.

I have two rose of Sharon bushes in my yard. I absolutely love them. When the buds come on, they’re really kind of nondescript, but then the flowers start to open. First, you see this little bit of deep burgundy coming up out of the green. Then it starts to open up. It opens in stages, and with each stage there’s something more intricate and more beautiful to see from the coloring of the flowers, to the statement, it’s just, it’s amazing.

There are so many of them, they’re abundant. It reminds me that with God, he is beauty, and he wants to reveal himself to us, but he does it in stages so that we can take it in.

If it was all at once, it would blow our minds and we’d just be sitting there babbling. He lets us see him and meet him and see the beauty in who he is and all the different facets. He does that in his timing in the way that’s best for us so that we can absorb it. 

That’s the way that we communicate with our readers in our books. We unfold the truths that God has given us in the words that we get on the page. We don’t try to beat them over the head with it because that’s preaching. That’s not good writing. But if we share with them the reality and the beauty of who God is and the many facets of who he is, we do that with an understanding that they can only take in so much, and God will take those words that we put on the page and show himself to our readers.

Erin: What I was thinking about, too, Karen, when you were talking about the buds being nondescript, that’s how our writing looks at the beginning. What a perfect metaphor for writing a book or anything. Whatever you write, it just starts in this sort of nondescript way and slowly through the process of creation, it becomes a thing of beauty. 

One of my favorite things about the rose of Sharon is that I see little hummingbirds. These birds feed on this beauty. I just, I love that. 

God Is Omniscient

The next attribute is that God is omniscient. Sometimes I think we can be flippant about that. “Well, okay, he knows everything.” But it’s not just that. It’s that his focused attention is on every single thing all the time. Every second. Every single second. 

My son is studying physics, and I think about the little things at the quantum level. It’s like this tiny little system. God is still focused on tiny atoms and electrons as well as 2 trillion galaxies of planets out there. God is doing that. 

For writers, I think it’s easy sometimes for us to think that God is not paying attention. But he has to. That’s who he is. He is always paying attention. Not just “you’re there.” But focused attention. Probably the kind of focus we all strive for.

I was telling Karen that it’s hard for me to focus sometimes. God doesn’t have a problem with focus, and his focused attention is on you, and your situation as a writer, and on every word you put on the paper, and on every issue that you deal with. Nothing is too big or too small for God to be paying attention to because his attention is just there all the time. 

I wish I could always remember that. I wish my attention was as focused on him 24/7 as his is on me. That’s something that I want to work on this year. For the new year, I think that’s my word: Focus.

God is Our Advocate

Karen: That’s great. What I love about that is with God being omniscient, he’s also our advocate.

I watch a lot of legal procedurals, police procedurals. One of my favorite shows of all time, and I watch it over and over and over, is the original Law and Order. I just love that show, and I love how smart the attorneys are, the advocates, and how they have to know every little facet of what’s going on in order to do the things that they do. 

God is all-knowing, like you said. He’s omniscient. He knows not just how to speak on our behalf, but he knows what’s going on inside of us. He acts on our behalf, not just for us, but in us. He works inside of us, giving us the desire and the power to do what pleases him. But remember, because he’s all-knowing, he knows everything about us, and he does the work of refining us because of that core deep knowledge. 

He supports us. He defends us. He intercedes for us. He does all of this because he knows us, and nothing in what he knows about us is discouraging or disappointing or frustrating for him. He understands, because he created us, and he knows how to lead us into what he wants us to be. 

In anything that we do, whether it’s writing, or as a parent, or as an individual, his knowledge of us is complete. We never have to be afraid to go to him and say, “I’m struggling with this,” because our God who knows us will intercede for us, and he will speak for us. He will do the refining work inside of us.

Erin: I love the notion of advocate because, I mean, we have an accuser. We constantly are buffeted by what Satan wants to do to us. But who shall bring any charge against God’s elect, right? Why is Paul saying that in Romans 8? He’s saying that because God is the one who justifies us.

God is the judge. God is our advocate. God is God. There’s no one else that can step in and do, or take away, or take us out of his hand. That is my favorite thing. Listen to this, guys.

“Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Can anything ever separate us from the love of Christ? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity? Or are persecuted? Or hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? Even the Scriptures say, ‘For your sake we face death all day long. We are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For, I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.” Romans 8

Our advocate. 

Karen: Amen. 

God is Omnipotent

Erin: And that brings us to another attribute. God is all powerful. He’s omnipotent. I don’t know how often we spend just dwelling on that. All the power there could be in existence, he has. That’s who he is. 

I don’t know what the most powerful thing is that you have ever seen, but we used to live in Oklahoma. There’s tornadoes down there quite a bit. You can see the storm chasers, they’ll go out there, and you can see tornadoes on TV forming. I once saw a small tornado turn into a mile-wide F -5 tornado that just gouged a hole in the ground for miles.

It was maybe one of the most frightening things I’ve ever seen. Just that power. But God is more powerful. God can do anything. 

When I think about that as a writer, God can do anything. You guys, what is your impossible situation right now? That situation you think is impossible that you’re facing? God did the virgin birth. He opened the eyes of a man born blind. He can get you a contract or cancel your contract. He can sell books or not sell books.

What is your impossible situation? He knows it, and he’s already he got it covered. He’s taking care of it. His best work in us, the all-powerful God, in my opinion, is always the transition of making us more like Christ, and that’s what’s happening in your lives, too.

That’s why he’s more powerful. That’s what he does. One of my favorite verses is Jesus saying, “My Father is always at his work, to this very day, and I, too, am working.” John 5:17

I think that work is him, not only holding the universe and sustaining all things by his powerful word, but continuing to conform you and me to Christ every day, every moment. 

Karen: In conforming us to Christ, we start to see him more clearly and with a better understanding of who he is.

Jesus is the lion and the lamb

I love it that he’s called both the Lion of Judah and the Lamb. Think about that. That’s again that Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Lions. I love the big cats. Whenever I go to the zoo, I go to see the big cats. Lions are just so powerful and strong and fierce and regal. Whenever I see them, they put me in mind of God because they’re just so majestic.

One day I went to a zoo and they had this huge viewing area with really thick glass. The lions could come right up to the glass. There was a little girl who was kneeling on the sill of that viewing area. 

All of a sudden, the male lion who had just been, you know, sitting there and looking stunning, he turned his head and he fixed his gaze on that child. He just kind of flowed up onto his feet and BAM! He came at that window. He had his paws on there. This girl was like teeny tiny on the other side of the glass with this enormous, powerful beast that had just burst forward. Everybody in that viewing area was like, whoa! And they backed up really fast.

We have this inbuilt sense of awe and fear at that kind of power and that kind of energy. It was clear, this is the king of the jungle right here. Of course, the little two-year-old was not even aware of what was going on, but her parents grabbed her up and ran her out of there. 

So I think of God with that kind of power, that fierceness, that majesty, and yet at the same time, he’s the Lamb. That puts us in mind of innocence and sacrifice and purity. God is everything to us. He is everything. He is the power and the protector and all of those things. 

Yet at the same time, through Jesus, he’s the epitome of innocence, of sacrifice, of purity, of sacrificial love. It’s just amazing to me. What seems to be contrasts in Christ and in God, they’re not contrasts at all. They’re just the many facets of who he is. 

Erin: I love that because had he not been the Lamb, he would not have gone to the cross. Can you imagine what it took to stay there on the cross when he could have just blinked it all out of existence? And yet he didn’t. Then the lion comes back with the resurrection. 

Karen: Something else happened at a different visit. I visit zoos a lot when I travel. I was on the opposite side of the zoo from where the lion enclosure was. All of a sudden this roar echoed all around. This time instead of people backing off, everybody, myself included, ran to get to the lion enclosure to see what was going on. 

The closer we got, the louder it was. I felt that roar in my chest. They were at feeding time, and the lions were like, “Get that food in here. I’m hungry.” 

But the roar! We have this instinctive fear of that kind of unhindered power. And fascination. We’re drawn to it, and we’re repelled by it. So when the Bible tells us that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, he’s not a God, he’s not a lion, who’s going to come up and just kind of rub his little head against us and we get to pet him. God is powerful, the kind of power we can’t even understand.

Erin: Yeah. 

God is the Amen

Karen: Another thing that God is: God is the amen. If you know what amen means, it’s like, may it be so, or let it be so. He’s the ultimate let it be so. The final word. Amen is used fifty-four times in the Bible to show agreement, to acknowledge God’s word and truth, to align with God and Jesus. 

I did a little bit of research and amen, the word itself, is what’s called a transliteration because the word is pronounced pretty much the same way it was in the original language. It’s just given one or two letters that make it make sense in a new language. So the word amen is one of the few words in existence that’s pronounced almost exactly the same way in every language.

When we say amen, we are saying the same exact word that has been uttered as a confirmation of belief for thousands of years. We’re speaking the same word spoken by the priests and the prophets and Jesus himself. 

God is the amen to everything. God is the let it be so, amen, it is finished. In Revelation 22:20-21 we read this: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people. Amen.”

So I encourage you this year: Amen. Amen, that we align ourselves with God. Amen to aligning ourselves with Christ. And amen to digging in and knowing who God is and all the facets.

Erin: Amen!


How do God’s attributes affect your writing?

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Today we’re talking about commandment #9: Thou shalt not publish thy first book first.

This is the most controversial commandment, but think about an athlete. Your first race is never in the Olympics for a gold medal. You have a lot to learn before you can get to that level. So it is with writing. Your first book isn’t gold medal quality. It’s the training ground.

Writers too often feel that any word they write is wasted if it’s not published. But you can’t get better at writing without writing. That means that lots of words are going to be practice, and that’s okay!

We’re not saying that your first book can never be published, but do it later, after you’re better. Too many writers get overly focused on their first book and become discouraged when it doesn’t get published. Or they publish it themselves because they think it’s ready, and it’s not.

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