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God is SO big. So full of mystery and wonder and power. How can our human minds ever really know him? By taking one attribute at a time and savoring it, letting him reveal himself to us. Come join us as we explore more attributes of the character of Almighty God.
Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!
Erin: Hello, listeners. Welcome to the deep. We’re glad that you’ve chosen to join us. A couple of episodes ago, in episode 159, we started talking about knowing who God is and quickly discovered we had way too much material. Surprise! God is very big.
So, this is part two. It’s important as writers that we have the best understanding of who God is, what his character is, and what his attributes are because the writing life is hard. It’s filled with trials. It’s filled with temptations. It’s important that we know who we’re trusting in and that we know him well.
Karen: Especially because he gives us truth to speak. We should expect attacks from our enemy, who prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). But you know what? If you’re grounded in who God is—in his attributes, in his character, in his truth—you can ward off the attacks.
Truth always prevails. God’s truth always prevails.
God is Sovereign
Erin: It does. Today we’ll start with: God is sovereign. What that means is that he rules. Always. Not sometimes. Not once in a while. Always. He can, because he’s all-powerful. We talked about that last time when we said God was all-powerful. Omnipotent.
But it’s more than just being able to rule. God has an actual plan that is perfect. That he’s ruling by. If you’re familiar with the whole plotter and pantser writer descriptions, God is not a pantser. He’s a plotter, and he’s got this whole plan.
I feel like for writers, we need to take comfort in that. Nothing, nothing is happening in your life apart from God’s will. Nothing’s happening in your writing world that is apart from God’s will. He’s working everything to your good and for his glory.
Not only that, but he’s our king. He’s sovereign. We owe submission to him. I don’t think it’s an accident that when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus said, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” Hallowed. Because he’s sovereign. And, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” (Matthew 6:9-10)
Another thing I think we need to think about with this is that it’s not okay to be complainers and grumblers. Yeah, we know in the Psalms, like king David, he poured out his heart, and there was some complaining in there, but that wasn’t the rule of his life. He always acknowledged God. Even though we have these human feelings of displeasure with what’s happening, that’s not to be the rule of our lives. We’re still always to be submitted to his sovereign will.
I think we need to be reminded of that. In Habbakuk 2:20, and this is a verse I found recently and I’d love it, it says, “But the Lord is in his holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before him.”
I think that needs to be our attitude often. Silent submission, not grumbling and complaining. That’s a way that we can show we’re submitted to God’s sovereignty.
Jesus is the Man of Sorrows
Karen: God through Christ is also the Man of Sorrows. Anything that we have experienced on our journey, whether it’s our faith journey or our writing journey, any sense of pain or struggle, any sense of betrayal by those that we thought we could trust. And too often, we place our trust in men. We place our trust in publishers. We place our trust in other writers. We even place our trust in friends and family. The sad fact is people are broken, and people will always let you down.
I’ve heard writers saying things like, “And they call themselves Christian publishers!”
Well, let me just dispel that myth for you. Today there is no such thing as a Christian publisher. There are publishers that are peopled by employees who are Christians and doing their best to follow God. But even they will make mistakes and make missteps. And it may cost you.
You may feel betrayed when a contract is canceled. When a series is stopped after the first book. When you think for sure that they’re going to contract your book and suddenly they’re like, “No, we’re going to go a different direction.”
Guys, any of that, any of that has come to God through Christ and all that he suffered. I mean, talk about betrayal by those you trust. Yet he continued to love, and he continued to move forward, and he continued to sacrifice everything for us.
Sometimes when you’re in a difficult time you think to yourself, “Nobody understands what I’m facing.” Then a writer friend, or a family member, or somebody will come and put their arm around you and say, “I understand.”
I just had this happen recently where I was frustrated about something, and somebody wrote me a really sweet email and said, “I understand what you’re facing.”
My immediate human response was, “No, you don’t. You don’t have this situation and this situation and this situation.”
God stopped me right in the midst of that, and he said, “That person understands portions of it. I understand it all. I know sorrow. I faced sorrow and betrayal. I was cut to the core by my creation turning its back on me. You can trust me with all your sorrow, all your pain, all your sense of betrayal.”
I just hit my knees, and I thought, “I’m so sorry, God. I’m so sorry that I got so wrapped up in my emotions that I lost track of the fact that you are in control and nothing comes to me but by your hand, and that you understand. You understand every pain, every sorrow, every sense of betrayal or loss.”
We can trust him and be grounded in that truth of his character.
God is loving
Erin: Yeah, and everything that comes to us by his hand, we need to understand that it’s God’s loving hand, because God is loving. He loves with a perfect love, and he’s not going to stop because God is eternal, and love is part of his attributes. So his love just doesn’t stop.
I love what A. W. Tozer says. He says, “God’s love for us is uncaused and undeserved.” That’s important because we can’t earn it. And we can’t ever be less or more loved because God’s love is already perfect. Nothing we can do is going to change that. God’s love is without limit.
Then I sit down and wonder what does perfect love even look like? That is so hard for us to get a grasp on. We can’t experience that in human relationships, because as Karen said, we’re fallen, and we’re broken, and we’re flawed. We can’t love each other perfectly. From God is the only place where we can experience this perfect love.
How many times do we NOT turn to him for it? How many times do we turn to other things, other people, for a love that’s more than they can give? Or something that they’re not meant to give?
I think about us as writers, we want our readers to love us. Yes, we’re there to serve them, but we’re not there to get love from them. We can’t find perfect love. We can’t get our acceptance and our validation there because God is the one who gives that to us. God is the one who loves us perfectly. That’s what we need to be thankful for.
I think, too, we need to remember to give grace to each other because God gives grace to us and still loves us. He gives us a model for loving others: his love. Not that we can do it like he does.
But his love… sometimes guys, just take five minutes. Just take five minutes and sit down and dwell in God’s love. Think about it. Meditate on it. Or just let it flow over you. It’s well worth it to consider and to take time to live in that place.
God is our counselor
Karen: God is also our counselor. Proverbs 2:6-8 tells us, “For the Lord gives wisdom. From his mouth, come knowledge and understanding. He stores up sound wisdom for the upright. He is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the ways of his saints.”
My husband, Don, and I have always had a difficult relationship. Still do sometimes. We went through 20 years of marital counseling. When we first started going to counselors, we went through like four of them, and all four of them quit counseling. They all said it didn’t have anything to do with us, but you know, you never can be quite sure.
Then God led us to a man who was a true counselor. He was a godly counselor. We learned that real counselors, counselors who are doing what they’re doing because God has led them to it—and God is our Counselor—they do more of than just listen and give advice.
They don’t just sit there and, like you know, all these things we see on TV where the way that counselors are depicted there are like, “And how does that make you feel? And how does that make you feel?”
That’s not what God does. God enters into whatever we are experiencing. Whether it’s a good thing, whether it’s a hard thing, whether it’s confusion, whether it’s not knowing what the next step is, we can take it all to our counselor, to our God and just pour our hearts out to him and ask him to grant us guidance.
He doesn’t just give advice. He shows us the way we should go. He listens not just to our words, but to our hearts and to our spirits. He helps us to understand ourselves and others. He gives us insight and revelation so that we can understand situations better. He helps us to see our own weaknesses and to deal with them if we will submit them to him and place them on his alter.
I had a terrible time, and still do at times, dealing with pride. I’m an abled person in many ways. I’ve been able to do a lot of things without a whole lot of effort to do it. I let myself believe in my own press for a while, and then I was just flattened by something that I couldn’t deal with.
I realized I have nothing to be proud about. The only thing, like Paul says, that I can take pride in is Christ and him crucified. Nothing else. I can take pride in the fact that I trusted God. I told him I can’t. So God helps us see our weaknesses and to deal with them.
He’s the one true catalyst for change within us. As our counselor, as our holy guide and the one who grants us holy revelation, he’s the catalyst within us that will change us into a better reflection of Christ in the world. In our writing, in our relationships, in everything that we say and do.
If you’re not reflecting him in what you’re writing, seriously, what’s the point? Don’t go through the pain. But if you want to do it and you want to reflect him in the stories and the nonfiction books that you’re sharing, then recognize who he is to you as your counselor.
Erin: Right. And as your counselor, think of him also as your guide on your writing journey. Sometimes we get so caught up in wondering what we should do. We talk to everybody, and we read books about writing, and we read blogs, and we do this and we do that. We ask all these things, and we forget to ask God. So be sure that you’re looking to God for his counsel in what you do each day and every step you take on your writing journey.
God is Just
Erin: The next attribute we want to talk about is that God is just. His judgments also are perfect. It says in Deuteronomy 32:4: “The Rock, his work is perfect for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without inequity, just an upright is he.”
I think that understanding the justice of God helps us to better appreciate his great mercy. We cannot forget that what we deserve in this world is death. We are not perfect people. We are sinful people. What God gave us is not what we deserve. He gave us a Savior, Jesus, to pay the penalty, to pay for our willful defiance, our inability to submit. Jesus satisfied the just wrath of God.
I think we as writers, we need to remember what we deserve and how we got mercy instead. I think this helps our attitude every day to be one of gratitude and humility. We need that as writers.
We need to practice mercy toward each other. I’m not saying that you should be a doormat, but practice mercy. Jesus says, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” Matthew 6:7 (ESV)
As Karen was talking earlier about the publishing industry, I mean, guys, it’s not fair. Publishing is not fair. We need to avoid seeking our own vengeance. That’s something for God to deal with, because God is just. All we need to do is approach God with complete trust as our just vindicator and the one who’s in control.
God is a Refiner
Karen: God is also our refiner. I love this idea of him as our refiner. You’ve all heard the Scripture where he tells us that he will test us and refine us like silver (1 Peter 1:7). Where it gets melted and the impurities rise to the surface. The person who’s doing the refining scoops that off and just keeps going through that process.
I think, too, of a sculptor who works on a piece of granite and inside that piece of granite is this beautiful creation, but he has to chip away at everything that is not the refined piece. Being refined is never easy. It’s painful.
My husband and I, as this is being recorded, have been preparing our home to sell. With everything that we do, I think to myself that I just want to put it on the market the way it is. Just take it as is. I don’t want to go through all this.
We tend to be like that in our faith. “I just want to write my books. I just want to do the speaking. Why can’t people just buy it the way it is?”
There is refinement that has to take place in order to lead us toward excellence in what we’re doing for God. That painful process of being refined, of being thrown into the fire and burned with all the dross coming off, of having the chisel set to those hard parts of us that are hardened against God—none of that is fun.
But God is a master refiner and a master sculptor. What you will become is a masterpiece that will reflect him. We’re told in Scripture, in 1 John 3:2: “We are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
We will be the reflection that he has been making us into for him. To stand beside him and glorify him. Our refinement is not about us being better and perfect. Our refinement is about being more obedient, more submitted, and glorifying God for who he is. To let the world see us, glorifying him, raising our hands to him, and letting him shine through us.
Erin: I love that metaphor of the sculpture. I don’t know if any of you have ever seen Michelangelo’s sculpture called David, but can you just picture this sculpture of this man halfway done? People will be walking by going, “Hmm, I don’t have a lot of faith here, Michelangelo. He doesn’t look too good right now…”
It is not a pretty process. And yet the end result! Now, maybe we’re not going to see that end result until heaven. And maybe it’s not going to be 100% pretty along the way, but Karen is right. It’s all about patience. It’s all about being willing to go through that process.
God is relational
Erin: The next thing is that God is relational. Think about the Trinity. That’s probably always going to be a mystery to me, but it also makes me think that there is a perfect fellowship in this three in one. Perfect fellowship among God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. That tells me that God is relational.
Then there’s the fact that God says he’s going to make man in his own image to walk with him in the cool of the garden. That’s relationship right there. Now, God doesn’t need people because he’s self-sufficient. He’s perfect without us. We can’t make him better. We can’t complete him by, like, knowing him or loving him or anything. But we become better people for our relationship with him.
As writers and people, sometimes we forget just how much God desires to have relationship with us. Just because he doesn’t need us doesn’t mean he doesn’t want us. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t desire that relationship with us and enjoy that relationship with us.
One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 31:3. It says, “I’ve loved you with an everlasting love…” that’s relational. It goes on, “Therefore I have drawn you with loving kindness.”
There’s even more relational language in Hosea 2:19-20. This is the New King James version, but I like the way it says, “I will betroth you to me forever, yes, I will betroth you to me, in righteousness and justice in loving kindness and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness and you shall know the Lord.”
That’s all about relationship. And the writing journey, we’ve said this so often, the writing journey is all about relationship with God. It’s the carrying out of life, of mission, in God’s presence with him.
God Is the Giver of Delight
Karen: Right. And in that same spirit, God is the giver of delight. I mean, all you have to do is look at the world that he created. This isn’t even the perfect world that he first created. This is a broken world that we’ve allowed sin and corruption to come into and bring decay. Yet, even as we look at this broken world, there is so much delight. So much beauty.
Even just the flowers. They’re starting to bloom here. It’s spring as we’re recording this. My mini irises have just come up. My daffodils and jonquils are starting to open. They were buds yesterday. Today, they’re flowers. How does that happen?
I keep looking at all of this around us. All of the beauty in the birds, in nature. All of the beauty in the people that we know and that we see. I’m not talking about what’s on the outside. I’m talking about on the inside. The beauty of that spirit submitted to God. The beauty of those who step out in courageous movements to spread God’s gospel.
Again, as this is being recorded, Russia is invading the Ukraine. I just saw a picture of a street overflowing with Ukrainians who have stepped into the street and are praising and worshiping God and calling on him for protection as the Russian army is coming against them.
That kind of beauty, friends, comes from the Spirit of God that comes in a washes over us and helps us to be brave no matter what’s taking place. God delights in us and over us. He gives us delight. Little ones. Big ones.
In Zephaniah 3:17 it says, “For the Lord, your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”
The Creator of the world is rejoicing over you today in this moment. And as writers, God has given us this incredible invitation into creation. When we craft our books, his hands rest on ours. His words flow through us. Whatever we’re writing comes to life because of him and his love, not just for us, but for those who will read our words. God is the giver of delight and you can come to him and be praising him and thanking him for that attribute.
Karen: There’s so many things for us to know about God. There are so many pieces and parts and intricacies of who God is that our human minds can’t even begin to understand. Yet he comes to us with patience and with great love and opens our eyes at the perfect time to see whatever we need to see of him and to embrace the things that he wants us to embrace of him.
Not because we’re perfect. Not because we’re worth it. But because he loves, regardless of all of that. God is so big. We are so small. Yet everything that he is is there for us. To draw us into relationship with him, to draw us into becoming a better reflection of him.
Friends, God delights over you. God loves you. God brings you justice. God will guide you. God is perfect. God is omnipresent. God is!
Just stop for a moment and think about that. God is. And he’s for you. Let’s rejoice in that and savor that today, as we think about the work that we are doing, as he has called us to do it.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!
Has God been showing you more about one of his attributes lately? Which one? How?
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Thanks so much to our March sponsor of the month, Tammy Partlow! She’s a speaker at women’s retreats, and her debut novel Blood Beneath the Pines, a suspense set in the deep South, is now available. She’s hard at work on the next book in the series!
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