Do you know the story about the Five Blind Men and the Elephant?
There were five blind men, blind since birth. They had never seen an elephant.
Each of them was taken to an elephant and allowed to feel with his hands one part of the elephant: an ear, the tail, a tusk, the trunk, and a foot.
Then they were asked to describe the elephant. Each man described what he had felt with his hands, and of course each one described something different: the foot for example was totally different to the trunk.
None of them was really wrong. Each man was correct in what he described. It was just that they each had a different experience of the elephant, and could only describe that part.
This is how we are when we try to describe God. Each of us has a different experience of God, and it is a true one, but we only have a limited image of the whole. We cannot say what God is like, because we know only a part.
An elephant’s foot
There are a few passages in the Bible that give us glimmers of what God is:
‘In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters.’ Genesis 1:1-2.So God is creative energy that generates and continually renews the universe.
So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them.’ Genesis 1:27.God’s nature is essentially creative.
‘God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”. ‘ Exodus 3:14.God is a universal presence who is at once knowable and unknowable.
‘Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.’ Deuteronomy 6:4.God is the central presence in, and of, the universe. We acknowledge this, and place our destiny in God’s hands.
‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.’ Matthew 6:9-10.God is a continual presence in our daily life, and we trust that we will one day experience him fully.
‘Who do you say that I am?’ Matthew 16:15.Each of us has a duty to search for God and know God as fully as we can.
I am Who am, painting by Colin McCahon, 1987
The central questions about belief in God are very personal. Only you can answer them, and each person’s answers will be different.
What does ‘God’ mean to you?
Do you have a visual image of God, or a feeling, or an idea that might be difficult to put into words?
When you pray to God, who is it you are praying to?
What do you truly believe in? Not what your friends, Church members or family believe in, but you personally, in your heart.
Do you have an image of God that differs from other people’s?
None of us knows God in his entirety – or ever can while we live. To think otherwise is pride. It is like trying to get a donkey to do classical ballet. It is simply not possible, however hard the donkey tries.
But we can all search for God, by
reading the Scriptures
thinking about what we read
trying to live a good life, day by day – or, if necessary, hour by hour.
The rest is in God’s hands.
Think about the four items listed above. Are you doing them?
Is there one area you fall down on? Could you concentrate more on that one?
Could you add to the list of Bible texts, with some quotes that help you?
You can find a step-by-step guide to meditation HERE
Bible Study Guide: Meditation on the Nature of God, and belief in God