Last Thursday, for what felt like the umpteenth time this winter, the city of Lincoln experienced a winter “snow event.” My wife and I awoke on Thursday morning to the sounds of our local school district canceling all classes for the day. Outside, a fresh blanket of white powder covered the already-existing layers of snow and ice. Soon, the sounds of snow blowers and shovels rang through the air in my neighborhood, while my wife scrambled to adjust her agenda knowing that she now had four children to supervise all day.
I was frustrated.
Most days I wake up with a clear roadmap of my day. I know what my schedule looks like, as well as the tasks that I intend to accomplish within the breaks in that schedule. This snowstorm, a delight to my children, was a frustration to me, because it disrupted my plans. A few early morning appointments had to be rescheduled or canceled altogether, as traffic was moving slowly throughout the city. Instead of pounding out a few tasks first thing, I had to spend an hour clearing my driveway and sidewalks. It takes several hours for the church’s parking lot to be cleared, so I couldn’t even get to my office until around 9:30. My perfect roadmap didn’t much resemble reality, when all was said and done.
And this was grace.
For those who, like me, thrive on order and control, and who consequently seek to establish and maintain order and control over life, even a mild late-winter snow can be a gracious and necessary remind of who is really in charge – and who isn’t. I had plans for my day, a carefully-scripted agenda. The Lord had different plans, a better agenda. And I needed the reminder that he is in charge and I am not. What seemed like an inconvenience, in the midst of the shoveling and rescheduling of last Thursday morning, was really an opportunity for my sanctification.
Theologians often divide the attributes of God into two separate categories. God’s communicable attributes are those he shares with us (or “communicates” to us). Though we can’t possess those attributes as fully as God does, we can share them. God is kind, patient, loving, etc., and we can share in each of those attributes. God’s incommunicable attributes are those he does not share with us in any way. God is omnipotent, omniscient, self-existent, etc., and humans cannot possess those attributes in any way.
The great irony of God’s character and our sinfulness is that we often strive to possess God’s incommunicable attributes while apathetically floundering in our possession of his communicable attributes.
God – and only God – is eternal. Yet we spend a fortune on “age-defying” cosmetic products and procedures so that we don’t look our age.
God – and only God – is omnipresent. Yet we attempt a level of connectedness through social media that allows us to feel as if we are everywhere we want to be, or with everyone we want to be with, all of the time.
God – and only God – is omniscient. He knows all things. Yet we are becoming increasingly addicted to and dependent upon technology that allows us to feel as if we, too, possess all knowledge. What is “Hey, Siri!” or “Okay, Google!” but a constant attempt to stretch the limits of our knowledge.
God – and only God – is sovereign. He reigns over all his creation as king. Yet we get frustrated at anything – even snowstorms – when they threaten our perceived self-sovereignty. Graciously, through the snow, God reminded me that he was king over my task list and schedule. But this frustrated me, initially, because deep inside I want to be sovereign over those things!
Only God possesses these attributes, and it is sinful for us to strive for them. When we consider the incommunicable attributes of God, we should let God be God – worshiping him for and trusting him to be who he is, and who we are not.
The irony of God’s character and our sinfulness is that we often strive to possess God’s incommunicable attributes while apathetically floundering in our possession of his communicable attributes.
But we can – and should – strive to possess more fully God’s communicable attributes. We can – and should – strive to be more loving, more patient, more kind, more holy, etc. The apostle Peter tells us: As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct (1 Peter 1:15). And the apostle Paul adds: Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us (Ephesians 5:1-2).