Donald Miller got me thinking. I’ve been reading Searching for God Knows What. He talks about how we can’t use formulas for how we relate to God. We can’t just pray for X and expect it to appear on our doorstep 24 hours later. That would reduce God to being a celestial vending machine.

Yet God created many formulas. The universe runs by an infinite set of formulas that govern how physical things work. When two hydrogen atoms are combined with one oxygen atom, water always results. By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen (Hebrews 11:3).

However, people (and God) are so much more complicated than just a set of formulas. I’d guess that God has countless formulas running in the background that govern how our minds and souls function. And yet there’s that free will thing. God created us to have choice, which indicates He enjoys variables.

Part of the beauty of relating with God is that He has depth and richness of character that takes more than a lifetime to grapple with. If you are married, you can say the same is true of your spouse.

Back to prayer and vending machines… Though we have no guarantees about how God will work in our lives, we can trust that He knows what is best for us – and that He bears our desires in mind too! You parents – if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? … So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him (Matthew 7:9 & 11).

(Paul Merrill writes here every First Friday.)

3 thoughts on “Formulas

  1. Pingback: Maybe God doesn’t use many formulas | Shiny Bits of Life

  2. Matt Hawk

    Thanks, Paul, You gave me something to think about.

    The Bible deals in formulas or laws. The Catholic Church offers Hail Marys, Novenas and confessions as rituals to receive God’s love and forgiveness. Following God is prescribed by the preacher on Sunday morning. I agree with your general principle, but as humans, we try to shoehorn Him in based on formulas. I don’t think He can be explained.

    I have never doubted there is a God. I have always believed that He’s there. I grew up going to church, and saw my parents believe and have a strong faith of their own. I take my children to church. While I cannot explain my belief, I’m certain it has to do with my inability to prove it. I have a love/hate relationship with the human aspect of worship primarily in the form of the Bible. I think there are many great stories and lessons. God did not write them. I suppose he inspired them, but when the laws are written, they are long, exhaustive and bureaucratic. Too much red tape for the benefit of God only to have His love meted out once the criteria has been met. It’s a set of laws or formulas. I struggle so hard with this.

    I fall back on faith with a capital F. This world is too big, look at the sky, especially at night, not to be inhabited by greater things. It is out there. I think your faith, in my case my faith is God, but my wife’s is Mother Earth and God, is inherent in you. You are born with Faith. Getting the most out of that Faith is spent wallowing in your own being while looking outward to others.

    Can a comment be longer than the length of the post? Thanks, I needed to get that out of the way.


  3. paulmerrill

    I appreciate your open and honest comment, Matt.

    I am on a journey, like you. The older I get, the less clear some things get.

    Jesus asked us to have child-like faith. That’s what I am striving for. Some days I succeed and other days find me crashing and burning. But I’m glad that the joy I find doesn’t totally depend on me.


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