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Drawing the Divine

It was already half past six, and the basement was uncomfortably cool despite the heating being turned up. I shivered as people from church arrived for the Bible study, partly from the cold, partly from anticipation. We were going to draw the Divine.

They were a colorful mix, and we faced the challenge of reconciling rehearsed phrases of Christian rhetoric with the uncomprehending looks of new converts. Our topic was: Knowing God.

“I want us to think about our understanding of God,” I told them. “Then, draw a picture of it.” After some initial hesitation, everyone set to work with a pencil. 

This same task had enriched my own relationship with God years ago, in my preparation for missionary work. I wanted this experience for my brothers and sisters here in Dortmund. I was aware that a drawing would leave a much greater impression and be much more revealing than a verbal description could ever be. The results were startling, revealing, and also very personal: a disinterested, floating being in the clouds; a bleeding, sad man on a cross; a judge with his finger raised to threaten sinners.

Over the next two months, we continued to meet, reading the Bible and talking about what God was really like. I wanted so much to change the false conceptions of God in the hearts and minds of the participants. At the end of those two months, huddled together again on couches in the chilly basement, I asked everyone the question: “What is your image of God now? What has changed?”

At first there was silence. The answers started coming slowly, then gained momentum and confidence: He is not angry anymore. He is not so sad. He is not far away now. He is interested in me.

I was deeply moved and found it hard not to burst into tears. I had also learned something new about God myself. I could feel a new closeness with him and see how he wanted to be in constant conversation with me. Beyond that, I was simply grateful that God had shown the believers in my church something new about himself, through his Word and his Spirit. They walked away from that class with a new image of the Divine, one that I know will only grow clearer and clearer until, finally, we see him face to face.

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