The Wild Man of the Universe

In his book, "The Sacred Romance", John Eldredge presents an image of God as "The Wild Man of the Universe".. untameable and unpredictable. I love that picture. Do you?

I suspect that you may not like this picture if you have bought into an absolutist image of the Almighty. If you find yourself saying things like "God always" or "God would never" then you may have bought into a fundamentalist, absolutist, black and white view of God.

Consider this scripture that I think paints God as a wild man:
What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses,
"I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,
and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion."
It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth."
Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " (Romans 9:14-20)
I love this picture of God because it puts man in his place. To those who would say that "God always" or "God would never" He says I will do whatever I want to do even if you don't understand what I am doing or why I am doing it.

This may make you mad.. I find God to be like that.. He often makes us mad when He acts in a way that is contrary to what we want.

Many of us don't like the idea that the scripture says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart (and other hearts for that matter) because it goes against our idea of what God looks like. We want God on our own terms.. we want to define Him as a tame God that always acts in loving ways.. of course we reserve the right to determine what love looks like :)

Does it challenge you to think of God this way?


  1. When talking about God to doubters, I'm usually afraid that they'll know their Bible well enough to bring up all the seemingly hard and cruel deaths dealt out by God in the O.T., and how to reconcile that with the endlessly sacrificial love modeled by and taught by Jesus Christ. I know it is the same God, and He does not change His ways over all of time, and why it took until "the fullness of time" for Jesus to enter the world, incarnating this seemingly vengeful and angry God into a Bridegroom, a sacrificial Lamb, a teacher, healer, friend and master. I'm left with only the idea that EVERY attribute of creation is contained within Him, and what we recognize as cruelty or tenderness is just what our limited intellects and experiences can recognize. By definition, we cannot get our minds around Him, can't capture Him, so what we see as vengeance or hardness is still contained with the ultimate Mercy and Justice.

    There is a certain style of Christianity that runs from mystery instead of accepting it, and I think people caught up too thoroughly in it, without good catechesis, keep being disappointed that they can't figure God out.

  2. It's summed up to me in the fact that God, and only God, is sovereign. Thank God He is!!!!!

  3. Kansas,
    How did I ever miss this specific blog that you have??!! In any case, I found it from Jeff's website.

    I love this post! Ha ha ha! I understand exactly what you mean here.

    Am looking forward to reading more posts here on this page. Looks like I have my work cut out for me!

    ~Amy :)
    Author of "Orphaned Into Belonging"
    Walking In The Spirit

  4. Bob, I had forgotten about this blog because for some reason I didn't save it in my fav. Now it is!!!

    This is a perfect post, and a picture of God we need to have to understand who He is!!

    "For such a time as this...."
    God is a work....Best we stay out of his way!!


  5. When God isn't "acting" the way we think He should act, I think it's important to remember that we don't see the big picture. The idea of a unpredictable "wild man" works to describe the mystery of God, but unpredictable doesn't mean "erratic."

    I think God does want to reveal Himself, and show us His ways. But when He it looks like He's doing something that doesn't fit the picture in my head, and it doesn't make sense, I have learned this is where faith really comes in. Faith requires an apparent contradiction, otherwise no faith is needed. These are the times I just have to say to myself, "I don't understand", and just learn to be okay with that. :)

  6. "For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.' "

    I think Pharoah had a choice--and either choice displayed God's power and proclaimed His name.

  7. Great feedback all!

    A theme represented in several of the comments is that God is not capricious or arbitrary in His dealings with us. Amen to that.. just because we don't understand God's actions or inactions does not mean that He is not acting in accordance with His plans for us.

    I love the idea of mystery.. so often the very things that seem to be so mysterious to embrace are the essence of what it means to have faith.

    Shalom, Bob

  8. I guess it boils down to our wanting things on our own terms and how we percieve God. He isn't our magic wand or puppet. Sometimes I forget who He really is.
    Great thought provoking post Bob.

  9. KB, I totally agree with your thoughts here. The longer I'm on this journey the less I'm inclined to be dogmatic and unmoving in what I say and believe.

    But I think that there is a way that we can say God "always".

    God is always Loving. What I can't say is that God is always Loving according to my definition of Loving.

    God is always Just. Again, can't say that God is always Just the way I want Him to be.

    God is always Three and always One and I can't even begin to wrap my mind around that one.

    So maybe we can also say that God is always Mystery.

    And of course, God always Is.

  10. Well said Keith.. especially those last two lines.

  11. I sometimes refer to God as a Mysterious Untamed God. I like the idea that He is so much bigger than our expectations.

    Bob, you know that I have a difficult time trusting the goodness and love of God. It goes right back to those expectations. I want God to prevent the "premature" death of a friend, and father to teenage boys, from cancer, to prevent the cruelty and exploitation of one human over another, etc. But that is not His way.

    So at times I pray as the Psalmist did, with honest prayers of angry protest, despite Romans 9. I believe that God prefers such prayers to me foolishly turning my back on Him, and attempting to abandon my faith.

    I think that honest prayers of protest can be more meaningful to God than polite, RC (religiously-correct) prayers. Buechner said something like, "Sometimes the things we think or say that sound the least like prayers are the most real prayers we offer."

    May you and your family have a blessed Thanksgiving. You are one of the reasons for thanks in my life.

  12. I liked this Gary:

    "I think that honest prayers of protest can be more meaningful to God than polite, RC (religiously-correct) prayers."

    Maybe that is why Jesus said to worship in spirit AND in truth.

    Not sure that God ever wants us to put a pretty religious face on the dark things of life.

  13. I know He doesn't mind when I yell at Him. . .

  14. Bob,
    I find a certain degree of assurance in knowing that God doesn't fit inside my plan or even of what I can conceive.
    I always think about the way C.S. Lewis described Aslan, so wild and dangerous but good. How when Lucy saw him for the first time she was powerless to disobey , she had to come even though she was scared to death of him.
    He is just so much bigger than we are and so much more capable than any of us.
    I am so thankful he is because I can barely manage my own life, I can't imagine all that the Lord has going on all of the time.

  15. When we make God in our own image, we make him too small.

  16. Ditto that Karen.. done some yelling myself :)

    Nice thoughts about Aslan Shaun.

    Insightful Doorman - we do seem to like God on our own terms and in our own image.

  17. A friend mentioned something too me recently. There was some writting spray painted on the church wall. It said "God is dangerous". They left the paint up.


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