My never-met beloved friend Rebecca Trotter keeps writing well about her life, producing a sort of modern, ongoing Book of Job. Poverty, kids, difficult husband, difficult self, friends & relatives eager to explain what she's been doing all wrong... In her latest piece she looks to be on to something.
The gist: It doesn't matter what she prays, does, says, thinks, believes, feels -- in that God will simply give her what she needs, whether that happens to be bliss, peace, agony, mental anguish, or indigestion.
Well, yeah. & no.
In one sense, we wouldn't want it any other way. If we could control God by sacrificing one candy bar in the toaster-oven every full moon, we might really get out of hand. It's a relief to have a fuse between our wishes & what we get, because without one we'd be in serious trouble. At best, we'd be wording our prayers as carefully as contracts with the Devil, lying awake all night wondering what should/shouldn't have gone into the fine print.
In another sense, no! We want to count for something, have power to affect the world somehow, to help and please our friends. We want a handle on our fate, even if that handle is fated to fall off at an inconvenient time. We want the world predictable and controllable to some extent; to be a world and not just a chaos -- not even a benevolent, nurturing chaos. God has accommodated that need as well, putting in all sorts of regularities, tricks we can learn, etc.
Dependable machines are good for what they do; but that's not exactly what we want in our friends. 'Undependable'? Uh, not that either. Do we want God to be the sort of Parent we can push around or manipulate? Do we want God to be inflexible, implacable, a rock we can always count on to be painfully resting on our feet?
It's those thinking minds that make this difficult, trying to fix things-as-it-is [Suzuki's term] with a definition through its little thorax like a butterfly in a case. Life becomes livable only because it's stretched between a complete set of paradoxes.
And God? Utterly dependable, as the Bible says. Predictable, controllable, no. Not even controllable by our ideas of God's job description. If you need Him, He will show up in a funny hat and pull your nose. And everything will be all right!