For as long as I've been led to seek God I've always been fascinated to learn more about His character. I mean, this is GOD! That there is a God blows me away; and that He is personal and attentive and involved from the largest, most stupendous operations (universe making) to the smallest, most intimate (reaching into discreet individual issues).
The key to truly, truthfully witnessing and appreciating His personal characteristics, personality, ways and means, style, nature etc., is to go to Him with empty hands and an open mind and then let HIM reveal what and Who He is.
What is usually done, however, and is the "natural" inclination to do . . . is to seek and go to Him with pre-conceived ideas of what He ought to be like; "ought" according to one's own standards.
"God would never do THAT! God is surely not like such-n-such. . . ."
We are generally grossly unaware of the presuppositions, implanted and nurtured biases that we take to His table. But where do we get the ideas that God ought not be, for instance, a "jealous" God . . . or a "wrathful" God? Who is it through the ages that has put generally into the collective consciousness that ie., "a loving God would never do ________"?
False teachers, deceivers, enemies of God have from the beginning made a religious industry (using all kinds of different religions, cults, philosophies etc.,) out of embedding deep into the conscience all sorts of presuppositions that "God" surely is mostly one way and not another (ie., "all loving" . . . "unconditionally accepting of all" . . . "wants us to fulfill our self-centered ambitions").
We are born into a pervasive and deep milieu of pre-conceived ideas and beliefs of what God "ought" to be like and then we go looking for the god that fits that description, combined with a few of our own individual predispositions. . . .
. . . .Rather than discover Who and what God actually is!
I am most intrigued by those parts of His revealed Word which show His character and style to be contrary to what I would (and once did) imagine how God acts and "responds" when interacting with important characters in His unfolding salvific plan (and us in general). [By-the-way, I'm highly intrigued and fascinated that He designed the world and its history to be one which hinges on having a salvific plan in the first place--as in, why did He not just create things perfect and leave it at that! Now, though, I can see how it redounds all to His glory. . . .]
One such example I came upon recently is the case of Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John The Baptist.
The priest Zechariah was burning incense in the temple when he was visited by the angel Gabriel. [Right there I find it so interesting that God created and uses angels to interact with humans--of all the things and ways He could do such.] Gabriel tells the priest "do not be afraid" and goes on to describe the son he will have and his mission. . . .
Then, to me, a striking thing occurs. Zechariah is incredulous that this will all happen (because of his wife's age) and asks for proof. Gabriel appears a bit peeved at Zechariah's doubting and so (God) struck the priest dumb, the angel saying, "because you didn’t
believe what I said, you will be unable to talk until the day this
happens. Everything will come true at the right time.” --Luke 1:20
That Zechariah had prayed for a child and that God heard his prayers (according to Gabriel) . . . that God sent an angel to the priest announcing his role in the great salvific plan . . . and that he was struck dumb for his doubting--but just for a limited period of time--this whole train of events shows so much about the character, style, ways and means of God! It is all so intimate, so nuanced, so blessed, so severe. . . .
And so telling of foundational issues pertaining to "spirituality". . . .
I wrote about "truth vs. feeling" . . . and how the mental assent to the truth of a thing is superior to and must lead feelings in the business of being "spiritual" and knowing the true God.
But even before this, it is BELIEF (faith) which is the master key that unlocks the understanding and appreciation of the TRUTH of Who and what God is. So grievous is the sin of unbelief that even though Zechariah was receiving an answer to prayers which would continue to be fulfilled, within that blessing his portion of doubt was made a fine example of!
Those who do not believe the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God or who only believe it MOSTLY or PARTLY is (true). . . will not be able to receive the revelation of Who God is and what He is like. They will come with some deeply held (often unconscious) presuppositions which will taint the view and prevent them getting the truth. But if you first believe that the God of the Bible IS the one, true and living God, then ALL of His ways and means and characteristics are rich in wonder, blessing, stupendousness, (intrigue and fascination for me) and understanding begins to flourish!. . . .
"Credo ut intelligam" is a statement made famous by Anselm of Canterbury which refers to this great master key to ever-going full and rich witness and appreciation of Who God is and what He is like:
"I do not seek to understand so that I can believe, but I believe so that I may understand"!
And he adds, "and what is more, I believe that unless I do believe, I shall not understand."
And here is another aspect of God and our situation which He has created related to this. . . . The fact that "belief" is the way and means to salvation from God's wrath and damnation (belief in Lord Jesus)--out of all the ways that God might have designated as the route to find and be with Him in Heaven forever . . . is again, a great cause of interest in me. That it isn't, for instance, endless study of scripture or the practice of long, hard physical and mental austerities or hours and days and years of mediation--but that it is "merely" BELIEF in Jesus Christ (and thus, His being Who He said He was.)
Going to His feet, empty-handed, "open" minded . . . ready to receive, believing He is God, good and just, loving and holy--perfect . . . and then letting Him reveal Himself as He will--is THE WAY TO THE WAY. . . .
But it doesn't end there . . . for more of His ways and means are there to be learned. For "belief" (which I'm also equating here with faith) is a GIFT from Him! Even this we do not bring to the table!