We’re always reduced to using metaphors when we talk about God, and I based my new book on a strange one.
I compared God to a tiger.
I hope that doesn’t offend people. My goal was to illustrate how dangerous and different from us God truly is.
Tigers are some of the most striking creatures on the planet. The sight of their vivid orange and black striping and lithe, muscular bodies produces a mixture of fascination and fear. Perhaps no one captured the essence of a tiger better than William Blake in his classic poem, “The Tyger.” The first lines read:
Tyger, tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night
When we think of tigers, that’s where we envision them—“in the forests of the night,” or maybe stalking prey through the jungles of India.
We imagine them wild.
The reality, unfortunately, is not so idyllic. Tigers are in trouble. Over the past century the global tiger population has dropped by 97 percent. An estimated thirty-two hundred tigers remain in the wild, fewer than the number of captive tigers in the United States alone.
Today most tigers know nothing of dark forests and dense jungles. They live out their lives in cramped cement enclosures or chain-link cages. Most don’t even know how to hunt. This apex predator, which for eons hunted vast territories and feared no natural enemy, no longer roams free. One of the most formidable animals in the world now slumbers behind safety glass while tourists file by to snap pictures.
The tiger has been tamed.
It’s a tragedy that reminds me of another one: our attempts to tame a holy God.
God should command our highest loyalty and deepest reverence, yet often we try to domesticate him. Whether out of fear or pride or ignorance, we no longer appreciate his strangeness and splendor. We’re not moved by his greatness and grandeur.
We fail to tremble at his holiness. We avert our eyes from his brilliance. We spend our lives yawning at tigers.
Of course God will never suffer the fate of the tiger. We can do nothing to confine his power or reduce his majesty. As C. S. Lewis wrote, “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.”
No, in our attempts to tame the Almighty, we succeed only in confining ourselves.
My hope is that we will break free. My prayer is that we will awaken to the awe of God, that we will open our lives to his holiness and love. May he forever stalk our hearts. May we learn to see his burning eyes amid the forests of our lives.
* This post was excerpted from Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying
photo credit: Steve Wilson – over 3 million views Thanks !! via photopin cc
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