I’m glad God isn’t like me.
The thought crossed my mind one hectic day earlier this month as I ran through my to-do list, calculating how and where I could squeeze in some time with my donkeys.
If I could, I’d spend the better part of my days at the barn. But in order to fulfill my other goals and responsibilities, at some point I have to head indoors.
God, on the other hand, can stay with each of His beloved creatures all day, every day, without neglecting any of the others or failing His other purposes. And I’m grateful for that, because it means He never leaves me.
That one insight got me thinking…
Usually, when I write a donkey-inspired blog post (or a “Donkey Devo”, as I’ve christened them), I focus on similarities between donkey life and spiritual life.
But this month, I’ve decided to do the opposite: I’m going to explore how they differ. Specifically, we’re going to look at a few of the ways God isn’t like us—and why that’s a good thing.
Here we go!
God Knows His Stuff
I love reading and learning. And I’m always trying to read and learn more about donkeys (or equines generally) so I can better care for my long-eared “kids”.
But no matter how much I learn, there will always be things I don’t know. Not to mention new tests of what I do know. And there will always be more for me to discover about my own donkeys as individuals.
Meanwhile, God already knows everything I don’t—on all topics. Even better, He has the wisdom to go with that knowledge.
This can make understanding His decisions difficult. It can also make trusting His judgment and following His directions harder. After all, we humans like to see before we believe—or obey.
Yet, ironically, His superior, all-encompassing knowledge and wisdom also guarantee we can trust Him.
We can accept His view of reality because He knows His world inside and out. We can follow His guidance because He knows where we’re going and why we’re going there. We can face whatever He allows into our lives because He knows the good He can bring out of it—and has judged it to be worthwhile.
We don’t need to know everything He knows or understand what He understands. We just need to take the hand He offers us—and hold on.
And if we can’t hold on, we can allow Him to carry us where He will.
God Can Handle Bad Weather
I do my best to get to the barn almost every day. But when temperatures rise or drop past certain degrees, my body starts to struggle. And my wheelchair simply doesn’t do mud.
Thanks to my wonderful family, my donkeys always get cared for. But the reality is that not every day is a Megan day, no matter how much Megan would have it otherwise, because Megan is no match for the elements.
God, on the other hand, can handle anything. No storm of life is too fierce, no flood too deep, no mud too sticky for Him to navigate in order to reach us—or to get us where He wants us to be.
Sometimes we underestimate that ability. Sometimes we let our fear, doubt, despair, and inadequacy inform how we think about and approach Him. We assume that if a situation, task, problem, or person is too much for us to handle, it’s impossible—or at least difficult—for Him.
Now, feelings in and of themselves aren’t necessarily “bad”. God wants us to be honest about them—both with Him and ourselves—and He hears them with compassion and fairness. They are among the infinity of things He can handle even when we can’t.
But our feelings don’t change the truth of who He is. And His sovereignty and omnipotence are part of His unchangeable character. What’s impossible for us is possible, even easy, for Him.
He’ll use His power differently in different situations. Sometimes He’ll calm the storm that’s threatening to sink us. Sometimes He’ll walk us through the middle of it. Sometimes He’ll let a sea monster swallow us and carry us through the depths.
But always, if we trust Him, He will bring our souls safely to whatever shore He wants us to reach.
And one day, He’ll end all storms.
God Is a Perfect Communicator
I’d like to think that, after one and a half years of practice, I can speak heavily accented but perfectly acceptable Basic Donkey.
Yet there are still times when I’m pretty sure I’m getting blank looks from my long-eared listeners. And there are definitely moments when I’m the one left scratching my head.
Thankfully for us, God is fluent in Human (not to mention Donkey). He understands us no matter our language, culture, worldview, background, or personality. And He can speak clearly to any of us, anywhere, anytime.
The Bible demonstrates this over and over. In it, God converses with all kinds of people, from shepherds to kings, children to soldiers, widows to ruffians. He shows up in all kinds of places—caves, deserts, mountaintops, homes, prisons, ships. And He speaks in a myriad of ways, some as orthodox as prophets and visions, others as strange as whirlwinds and burning bushes.
We may never meet angels or be guided by a star. But He still can and does speak to us. Through the Bible, He shows us what He’s like, what we’re like, and what kind of relationship He wants with us. Through the Holy Spirit, He helps us understand and apply those truths. And through His creation and through people who love and know Him, He offers us reminders and affirmations.
We can choose whether to listen, and what to do with what we hear. But always, God gets His message to us in ways we can understand.
And just as importantly, He hears and understands what we say to Him. Even when we don’t know to how to articulate it. Even when we feel too far away or too far gone to be heard.
And He responds.
When I was younger, I sometimes found it discouraging that God is so unlike us. How can you possibly get to know someone so distinct, so above and beyond you?
Now I’m writing a blog post about how glad I am that He is.
It’s not that I no longer want to know Him better—quite the opposite. Rather, I’ve come to realize that I can know Him without having to climb up to Him myself. Such a climb isn’t only impossible—it’s unnecessary.
He might be different. He might be above and beyond us in just about every way (of which I’ve named only a few). But He also draws close to us in all His holy otherness.
Through Jesus, He lived among us as one of us so that He could sacrifice Himself on our behalf and then rise on the third day to offer us eternity with Him. Through the Holy Spirit, He dwells within everyone who puts their faith in Jesus. He continues to reach out to everyone, inviting us into a close relationship with Him through Jesus.
It’s that holy otherness drawing near to us that saves us when we welcome it by placing our faith in Jesus. Jesus’ sacrifice was effective because, as God, He had no sin of His own to atone for. His perfection is enough to cover all our imperfection, enabling God to acquit us even though we’re guilty. And it’s enough to take us beyond acquittal to enjoy the hope of new, eternal life through Christ’s resurrection.
Jesus is also perfect enough to serve as a spiritual guide and role model for those who put their faith in Him. His character is the image into which our characters are being shaped by the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the Spirit is able to change us because, as God, He knows perfectly well what we are, what He wants us to be, and how to get us there.
And this triune God is able to reach out to us in the first place, before we ever know Him, because—unlike us—He is ever-present, all-knowing, all-powerful, sovereign, eternal, and faithful. Which means the grace He offers us is all those things as well.
So as you seek to know Him better, lean into His divine uniqueness. Trust it. Rely on it. Respond to it.
If you haven’t already, ask God to cover you with Christ’s perfect sacrifice and resurrection. Ask Him to forgive, cleanse, and begin changing you through the Holy Spirit. Commit to seeking and applying His teaching and example to your life. Commit to pursuing your perfect, all-sufficient Savior before, above, and beyond all else.
Call on His unfathomable wisdom to guide you. Call on His inexhaustible power to sustain you. Call on His constant presence to be revealed to you. Call on His all-sufficient grace to continue touching and transforming you as you journey through a life of seeking Him.
And as you go, praise Him for who He is. Even—maybe especially—for the ways He’s not like us.
‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,Isaiah 55:8-9 (CSB)
and your ways are not my ways.’
This is the Lord’s declaration.
‘For as heaven is higher than earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts.’