Saturday, June 25, 2011


Thus thou shalt say unto the children of Israel, I AM… (Ex 3:14)

The little bible study group was discussing Jonah, and about knowing and doing God’s will. Jonah found it hard, even when God TOLD him His will. The study group rightly concluded that all we as men can ever do is to try to know God’s will, and that as men here on earth we will never know it perfectly, and therefore never do it perfectly. And thus, prayer is so very important. We need to keep up that conversation with God, constantly asking to know His will, and be given the fortitude and wisdom, and charity, to do it.

And then, for some reason, my thoughts wandered from the group discussion back to the Old Testament, and other attempts to know God.

Moses also was told God’s will for him directly by God, and yet he questioned it. Moses questioned how it was possible that he could do God’s will: “And Moses said unto God, who am I, that I should go …” (Ex 3:11). And further, Moses asked God for some proof that he could give to the Jews that they might believe Moses was doing the will of God: Moses asked God for his name. And God replied: “I AM”.

Two words, so simple and so basic, to describe something so huge, but then I realized that there is even a simpler name, and perhaps in some ways describing even a huger thing to us: “I”. I realized that “I” is the shortest word in the English language, a single letter, and that it is unique in that it is capitalized. The single letter “a” is also used as a word, but it is never capitalized. Why is that, I wondered?

I don’t know the history of the English language, nor when it was decided that “I” would be capitalized, nor why, but as you know, the word “why” is one which occupies my mind often. God speaks of Himself and says “I AM”, and we speak of ourselves and say “I”. And we both write of ourselves and our pronouncements in capital letters. God certainly is that important and should be placed in capital letters, but am “I”? Perhaps therein lies man’s problem, an age-old problem: his feelings of his own importance, an importance which at least sometimes takes on a meaning to him as important as God.

From one point of view, the word “I” is more focused than the name God used for Himself, and so may give an intrinsic feeling of importance, in just saying it. “I” conveys that there is nothing more to be said; this is all important. When we speak the word “I” it is usually with a feeling of importance, both to ourselves and in an expectation that it should be important to others: This is what I am saying (or proclaiming --- as if it were something of note).

We can convey our feelings of distain or disbelief in what someone else says by how we describe it: He says this, (but you know I don’t believe it). Jesus both diminished another’s words and stressed the importance of His own words when He said “You have heard it said that you shall not commit adultery, but I say unto you …” (Mt 5:27-28). But in stressing the “I” of that statement, Jesus was also proclaiming He was speaking as God.

We don’t.

We are called to imitate all of Jesus’ actions and words in Scripture, except those where He speaks of Himself as God, because we are not. I think that perhaps sometimes, however, we are confused on that point. We cannot speak as God speaks not only because we are not God, but also because we cannot fully know His will, as Jesus did. God’s revealed truths are His alone, and can be repeated as His, but our pronouncements, our interpretations of His truths and His will are but shadows of what are His real intents, His will, His WHY He speaks. To know His will is not to just know and imitate WHAT Jesus did, but WHY. At best, we can grow in wisdom of this, as we grow in holiness in this earthly life. But we will never fully know.

It is only our ego which states more, that “I” know more. For we forget the second word of the name of God, which is also important, for it not only defines the WHAT of God, but the WHY. I can convey my importance with a second word, in what I know, what I see, what I feel, what I say, but I can never convey simply and totally what I am in my very being, the “WHY” of my being. Only God can say and fully describe Himself by saying: I AM.

“I” am really not much at all in comparison with God, just little pieces of what He is. But as a foolish man, I so often forget that. And so when I am full of myself and am about to proclaim how stupid you are, I should stop and recall how really small “I” am. My feelings of superiority in any way are like an ant calling a flea small, but from the view of the universe we both are almost invisible.

We are so very blessed that God does see us, and knows us, and loves us even in our smallness --- and this is part of the very WHY of His being. I can never understand this nor never imitate it, but I can give thanks.

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