Extraordinary God

This may surprise you. But there are some things that God cannot do! Seven of them! God cannot remember sins He has forgotten. He cannot be given a job He cannot handle. He can never leave you. He can never be indifferent to your needs. He cannot change. He can never be surprised by anything! And above all, He just cannot stop loving you!

This came to my mind when I was reading the weekly column that Helen Middlebrooke writes on the Sunday local paper. She is a mother of nine children. One of them, six year old Deborah has Down Syndrome. “What she lacks, I make up. I am her voice, her nerve endings, her legs. But she has given me back my mother’s soul; it’s more than a fair trade.”

According to Helen herself, Deborah gave her much more. “There has been many times in the last six years I’ve wished that my life could again be ‘normal’, if only for one day. But wishing for ‘normal’ means wishing away Deborah and I would never do that, even for a moment. Deborah is as God made her. To make me as He wants me to be.” Through Deborah, Helen is becoming the beautiful woman God wants her to be.

This may be hard to understand. Many times we have a rather softy idea of God. God becomes a syrupy mushy super-being, full of sentimental overtones. This God is very alien from the God we find in the Scriptures.

There we find a God who is always pursuing us. He wants to track us down to bring us back to our senses!

Ask Moses. He was forty years in the desert when he looked over his shoulder and saw a bush blazing. God had followed him into the wilderness. Jonah was a fugitive on a boat when he looked over his shoulder and saw clouds brewing. God had followed him onto the ocean.

The storm was bad. The disciples of Jesus thought it was all over. They thought they would sink. But then they saw Jesus walking toward them. God had followed them into the storm. Lazarus was three days dead in a sealed tomb when he heard a voice, lifted his head, and saw Jesus standing. God had followed him in the tomb.

Peter had denied his Lord and gone back to fishing when he heard his name and looked over his shoulder and saw Jesus cooking breakfast. God had followed him in his failure. John the Apostle was banished on Aegean Sea island of Patmos when he looked over his shoulder and saw the skies begin to open. God had followed him into his exile.

There is a very powerful story in Genesis that perhaps some of us fail to realize its full meaning. It speaks about Jacob.

Jacob was a devious kind of a person. He had managed to steal the blessing from his brother. He had worked his way to marry a beautiful woman and make quite a fortune in cattle. He was a controller and a manipulator.

However God intervened. And for one night He wrestled with him. It was dark, the struggle was fierce, and the odds were high. “Seeing that He could not master him, He struck him in the hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as He wrestled with him”.

God has to physically immobilize Jacob to prevail over his dangerous self will. It was painful; it broke him. But it was the only way that God could remove the old sick nature from Jacob. Now Jacob is a new man. Even his name is new – Israel, strong with God. No longer would Jacob walk in his own strength. He would now have to lean on a cane, symbolic of his leaning on God alone.

God is good. His goodness is not however the mawkish kind of syrupy love that we think it should be. Many times it resembles more the love of the surgeon who uses the scalpel to bring out the inside tumor that is poisoning our lives and our relationships.

Sometimes, like Jacob, we necessitate a time of immobilizing, a loss of a job, loss of income, loss of health, loss of a close relationship. These are His methods of preparation.

I went to see The Chronicles of Narnia based on a CS Lewis novel. The Deep Magic, the Law of Narnia stated – as the Witch clearly explained – “that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that for every treachery I have a right to kill.” So, the traitor Edmond belonged to the Witch.

But Aslan, as a willing victim, died in Edmond’s place and after coming back to life he explained to Lucy and Susan: “The Witch knew the Deep Magic, but there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

God keeps following us … even in death! Deo Gratias!


(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.