In my conversations with Soren, I’ve been having to think a lot about the way God operates in the world (because when you’re applying to divinity school, they ask you those kinds of questions in your admissions essays…). And it’s a tough question.

I was raised in a world where you prayed personal favors from God and he snatched you from death in near-fatal accidents or sent guardian angels that you could always read about in Reader’s Digest stories. A personal, anthropomorphic God you could chat with and who acted in the world somewhat like the Greek gods of myth (except perhaps less capricious), moving humans around like the pawns on a chessboard to effect events big and small.

And while I think that having a personal relationship with the divine (feeling able to speak comfortably when you pray) is important, I’m just not sure if the chess-player God orchestrating each detail of our lives is convincing to me.

In one of my religion classes last year, my professor said, “I think you can either have a loving God or an all-powerful God, but not both.” Because an all-powerful and loving God wouldn’t let terrible things happen in this world.

This statement struck me.

The word “Almighty” rolls off our tongues often in our prayers. But when we think about that, what does that mean?

I’ve been pondering this question. And, given the choice, I want to believe that we have a loving God.

Maybe not in an anthropomorphic kind of way. I see God as the force that created this universe, that causes every living thing to have that spark of life. A great, interconnected light that runs through us and through the world.

I think that the will of God runs in currents and nudges, not like sudden moves of chess pieces on a playing board. The divine wells up inside us and gives us strength, or inspires us to a cause.

But it is up to us to move on that.

God doesn’t force our legs to walk, he only sparks that urge within us.

When I pray, I don’t say things like, “God, please fix this.” I say, “God, give each of us the strength to realize our mistakes and reconcile with love.” Asking for help, not for it to be done for me.

When I was younger, I used to always wish the same thing on shooting stars: “Let me always be happy with what I have.” Maybe it was just my pragmatic kid self not wanting to wish for anything too big, in case I got disappointed. But I think it’s a good metaphor for talking to God.

Maybe it’s better not to ask God for a pony or a car or to fix a problem. Maybe it’s better to ask God to be there for us, for us to never forget God’s presence, for us to feel the strength and the comfort of that.

Because I believe in a loving God–a force too great and vast for us to ever imagine, a force we put our human label of “love” on even though the reality far transcends the greatest love we can conceive of. A God that ties the universe together and just wants us–deeply, deeply–to understand that we are all connected, that we are all part of the divine, that we must all love and be loved.

Perhaps this is not a God that enters into scenes for a deus ex machina. It is not a God who determines who wins wars or who finds a spouse. But it is a God who aches deeply for a universe where love is recognized and celebrated. That is the end game, and that is where God’s currents move us.

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