Six months ago I devoured John Steinbeck’s mythic tale, East of Eden. Steinbeck creates fantastic and believable characters in a larger than life sort of way. He even gives one of his characters a horse named Doxology. Doxology is only the most amazing name for a horse ever. I really must buy a horse just to name it Doxology. Anyway, some of you may remember Liza Hamilton. If not, allow me to introduce you to her. Liza is a small, strict woman with a rigid set of moral standards. Life is black and white for Liza Hamilton. On one occasion, in the book, Liza’s husband Samuel stays out all night hanging out with some neighbors. Now, Samuel was not out doing anything scandalous but was just out later than Liza deemed appropriate. The next morning Liza disapprovingly chides Samuel, saying, “Maybe you can find it healthy to rove all night, but the Lord God will do what He sees fit about that.” Now I am not interested in discussing whether or not the fictional Liza was justified in her conviction. What I am most interested in discussing is the narrator’s comment immediately after her rebuke:
“It was well known that Liza Hamilton and the Lord God held similar convictions on nearly every subject.” (Penguin Books, East of Eden, 178)
The narrator’s quip is both amusing and illuminating, don’t you think?
I have all too often discovered myself assuming that God thinks similarly to me on a variety of subjects. If I am in a fight with Colin, I might say something like, “Well, why don’t you pray about that?” Hmmm, I’m pretty sure that what I really mean is, “I’m going to give you a couple of minutes to testify that you fully agree with me that God is on my side in this argument and not yours.”
Sometimes we get so overconfident in our understanding and knowledge of God that we simply assume all of our opinions are synonymous with His heart. We seem to think that if only we knew Scripture word for word then all of our thoughts and opinions would be in continuity with God’s own. There are so many problems with this assumption, not least of which is the sin in our hearts that causes us to, at times, misunderstand or misappropriate the Scripture that we have so impeccably memorized. Now, this is not about disparaging knowing the Bible or memorizing Scripture. This is about resisting the assumption that if we know the Bible well we can co-judge with God.
The other day as I was scrolling down my twitter feed I read a tweet by one of our siestas, Fran Thomas. She typed the following:
“Just because you have the gift of discernment doesn’t make you right all the time.” And then she wrote in parentheses: “talking to myself.”
Her tweet was a gorgeous reminder and it took me back to the Liza Hamilton in myself. Thanks for that word, Fran, if you are out here in these interwebs today.
The LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. Deuteronomy 10:17