God is not a duality. He is a unity. He is neither an Old Testament ‘ogre’ or a New Testament ‘indulgent grandfather’ regardless of what superficial rendering of Him anyone feels compelled to conjure by virtue of how He is represented or perceived. My views of God have indeed developed over the years, not evolved, but developed. They haven’t changed from one reality into another but by His Grace, like the mustard seed into a great tree, they have grown in order that I be better able to see what He’s always been. Love. And always my Father.
I remember when I was a child, 5 or 6, living abroad, sneaking down to the refrigerator in the dark basement where the sweets were kept (against my mother’s explicit requests) and reaching into that fridge to pull something sinful out and hearing, actually hearing, a distinct and very clear voice say “No.” Perhaps I dreamt it, maybe it was my older brother hiding behind a couch in the dark, but I remember that moment. I remember the kind of fear I felt. I was scared. But it was not a servile fear. It was filial. It was the fear I sometimes had of my dad when I’d been misbehaving, or worse yet had somehow disrespected my mom, until he finally unbuckled his belt, not removing it, but just unbuckling it. A warning. I felt the same at that moment. But that feeling despite my apprehension was always… just. I wouldn’t define it that way then – I was a child. But even then my fear was underscored with a sense of something benevolent. My fear was at the service of something good. Of someone good. I was scared but ultimately safe. Over the years I have heard that voice at other times, softly, almost imperceptively, a nudge, an inclination – filtered through a growing and better formed conscience – directing me to what’s right, or in other cases directing me away from what’s wrong. But always the voice has been that of a Father.
My images of God have developed, they continue to develop, they have moved and been shaped in so far as my intellect and experience have grown in their ability to understand them – and no doubt they will continue to do so. And I pray only that He gives me the Grace to more completely understand, through this constant growth and development, the fullness of His promise to me as his son.