I've spent most of my life trying to get a picture of God that I could wrap my mind around. I'm sorry to say that I've failed. Every picture I get simply seems to fall short.
When I was younger, I found myself in large church buildings with stained glass and ornate decor taking me back hundreds of years to a time when people dedicated all of their gifts to the building of grand reminders of a really BIG God. In those church buildings, I found myself picturing God as a big, powerful, austere man who sat on a throne and ruled as King over all of His creation. He was a judge, fair but unwaivering, who knew even more than Santa Clause so you couldn't get away with anything. He was a warrior who defeated all who were against Him, so you didn't want to be against Him. God was a Father, Warrior, Judge, and King to be feared, respected, and revered.
Later, I started attending a different kind of church service in a different kind of building. The building was still large, but the benches didn't have kneelers and were padded for comfort. The large building was clean and beautiful, but not nearly as ornate. The building seemed to point to a different kind of God - one who provided but not one to be feared. The preacher spoke much more about God as the person, Jesus. He spoke of His fairness, His humility, and His love. "Grace" seemed to be the catch word in that church body. God became approachable, like a friend. We were encouraged to get to know God, to build a relationship with God, and to become more like God - Christ-like in all we say and do. God was a man who was approachable as a friend.
Over time, I began hearing more and more people speak of God as being "in them." They didn't fear Him like the first group. They didn't talk about becoming His friend like the second group. They spoke of hearing from Him, being directed by Him. They seemed to go beyond becoming like Him by following the example of the God-man Jesus. They had a "direct connection" to God and would follow whatever they heard Him tell them to do. God was a Spirit who filled His people with gifts.
Over time, I've read Scripture over and over again. I've started to see that each of these pictures has validity to them. God is described as a Cosmic Father, a Man-Son, and an Indwelling Spirit. I've started to realize that the pictures we have been given are a part of a bigger picture. These pictures give us attributes that are true of God with pictures that our minds can handle. As we put these pictures together, we begin to see the bigger picture. God is far beyond any picture we can grasp.
I think this is by design. Perhaps the real goal here is not to understand everything about God, but to learn from those things God has revealed to us. Each thing we learn teaches us a little more about God...and ourselves. I guess I really didn't fail, then. I'm just not done. As long as i have breath, I have time to learn a little more about our God.
How about you? What's your picture of God?