by Pastor Reid Matthias
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Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him (Ezekiel 1:28a).
When I was young, my parents showed me depictions of what God the Father looked like. Universally, it was presented as an old white man with a flowing grey beard, sitting rigidly on a golden throne, and more often than not, he looked pretty angry.
For the longest while, because of this depiction, I was always afraid that God the Grumpy Grandfather was this close to smiting me for the things I did wrong.
Fast forward 40 years.
In the Prep class of my school, the children were asked to draw a picture of what they thought God looked like and then write a sentence about it. Here are some of the results:
I think God is flying in the sky. He gives presents.
God has big ears, so he can hear everyone.
God is like a sheep.
I think God is a girl, and she is outside playing.
I think God is a golden cloud, and he flies everywhere.
Amazingly, Levi comes closest to Ezekiel’s vision of ‘the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord’ (verse 28b). Sitting on the throne is a human-like figure, from the waist up, glowing metal, and from the waist down, fire. The figure seems to be on an iridescent throne above everything.
When I ponder Ezekiel’s vision, I wonder what it will be like to eventually see the appearance of God. Will I fall facedown like Ezekiel? Will I be overwhelmed with joy? Will I be frightened?
Maybe we all will be surprised about what God looks like. But I don’t think we’ll be surprised what God is like. Merciful, gracious, forgiving, slow-to-anger and abounding in steadfast love. Regardless of what God’s appearance is like, we know that in Jesus, we have access to God’s Spirit.
That’s something to be thankful for.
Heavenly Father, reveal your heart to me, please. Remind me again of your mercy, forgiveness, grace and abounding love. Amen.
Reid Matthias is the school pastor at St Andrews Lutheran College in Tallebudgera, Queensland. Reid is married to Christine, who is part of the Grow Ministries team. Together, they have raised three incredible daughters, Elsa, Josephine and Greta. Dedicated to the written word, Reid has recently published his fourth novel, Blank Spaces, maintains the blog ireid.blogspot.com and regularly contributes to The Lutheran magazine.