‘God Knows!’May 20, 2011
On my daily (if it’s not raining!) walk recently, as usual my ears were plugged by the earphones of my Sony Walkman (so old it plays cassettes: younger readers may not have heard of them!) That day I was listening to songs from “Joseph and His Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat”, originally a short piece written for a school concert but expanded into a full-blown stage show.
I’ve seen it a few times and always thought it had great music linking its Bible story. But on that walk, hearing it again, I was struck by how great the original story was, depicting in its characters a huge range of human strengths, weaknesses, achievements and failings.
Read the story again in Genesis, 35, 37, 39-45, to see what I mean. Take Joseph’s father, Jacob: pious, but also stupid, asking for trouble by so obviously making Joseph his favourite son; later he feels sorrow, fear, worry, happiness, gratitude: what a mixture! Joseph’s brothers? – envy, if understandable, treachery, greed, lies, disbelief, relief. And Joseph? – on the one hand proud, self-important, deceitful; on the other wise, tender, forgiving, generous. Again, what a mixture! So here we see a remarkable variety of the good and bad in our human nature.
My grandson Calum’s favourite song is “My God is a Great Big God”. He is. And because God created us, He knows us. More than that, He has also been one of us in Jesus, who had to face so many contradictions in those he met, from devoted joy to devious hatred. So don’t be fooled into thinking that God is ignorant of, or oblivious to, all our mixed-up human thoughts and actions. He’s not. God knows!
Two thoughts on all this. The first is that Jesus, on the cross, asks his Father to forgive the very people who are crucifying His only Son: surely that’s a prayer made in the faith that God can forgive all of our sins, even to the farthest extent to which human evil can go. The second is that in “Eli Jenkins’ Prayer”, or “Sunset Poem” (which I sing with Dumfries Male Voice Choir) are the Dylan Thomas lines:
“We are not always bad or good who live our lives under Milk Wood;
But Thou, I know, will be the first to see our best side, not our worst”.
This is our God, our Great Big God. And God knows! He knows what we’re like, understands us, looks for the best in us in His love, and forgives the sins we can’t even forgive ourselves. And (God knows!) we should all be glad about that.