A well-known theologian, Paul Tillich, described God as “the Ground of our Being.” It is God’s desire to enter into our lives at the very core of our being. I have pondered over this description and what follows are some thoughts about God and God’s actions in our lives.
A God that is the ground of our being is very different from a God who is “out there.” In ancient times, people saw the world as having three levels: heaven, earth and hell. God, in that model, looked down on a flat earth from heaven and heaven was in the sky, just beyond our vision. In Tillich’s understanding, God is very present and as I began to see this, as right “in our face,” so to speak.
In Scripture we find that God is love. To put these two images together, one might say that God’s desire is to communicate to us in the depth of our being that we are loved. This can be life-changing. I am sure that most of us have from time to time had negative thoughts about our value or self-worth. I have an example of how love changed a family as an illustration of the power of love to reverse the negative effects of low self-esteem.
What follows is a story about a family that had one family member who succumbed to addiction. The addicted family member sank deeper and deeper into the addictive behavior, lost a job and eventually left home. The remaining spouse and the children wanted to do something to retrieve this person. They sent a letter to the absent family member. It was a love letter. They told the person that they were loved and that they were missed terribly. Upon receiving the letter, the family member cried and cried to see that despite their behavior, they were of value and were wanted back into the family. Eventually, the person who was addicted returned home, sought help and once again became a valued member of the family.
I make a connection between this story and the power of God’s love to restore each of us. The action of God to restore us came through Jesus who taught us the value of love. Sometimes we refer to Jesus as God with skin. This is the working of a God who is present to us, not far away. I have tried to imagine what it would be like to be so full of God that we could say that God is at the very core of our being, present in all of our weakness and strengths.
A portion of a Bible verse from Luke 11: 9 came to me as I thought more about this God who is near. “Ask and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock and the door will be opened for you.” The earlier portion of this text had to do with persistence. The focus of the verse is upon us to do the seeking and asking. However, it strikes me that God does a lot of knocking at our spiritual door and does wish for us to invite him in.
At least from my perspective, that is a reflection upon a God that is always nearby, waiting to become the center of our being. It is a God who wishes to deliver to us our own personal love letter.