What is Your God Like?


Roy Lobenhofer

I believe visions of God are different for each of us. While I consider myself a Christian, I cringe at some of the things I see attributed to other Christians. If they believe they are doing God’s work, I know their God is different from mine.

There’re all sorts of books telling who/what God is. For me, the Bible is the prime example. Even with all that information, or maybe because of it, I believe everyone has their own picture of what God is like. Is your God the one of the Old Testament where he asks a man to kill his son? Or, is your God the one from the New Testament saying something like, “You who is without sin cast the first stone”? My guess would be your God is not solely the New Testament or the Old. It most likely is a little mixture of both with your own logic mixed in. After all, I believe God also gave us free will and minds to help us decipher what he has created.

Of course, there are many people in this world who haven’t read the Bible, but who still have a vision of what God is. I don’t have much experience with such people, but I’m willing to bet some of what they believe is from what they’ve read in other works or they have been told, but I believe the majority comes from what they feel.

In all honesty, I don’t think many of us spend much time thinking about what our God is like. God is just God. As I push toward being 8 decades old and am still lost on many, many things, I think it might be time to look at my God to see what my God is really like. Hopefully this will help others think about what their God is like.

Before going into what my God is like, I should address some comments to those dear friends of mine who believe all that is needed is the Bible. Unfortunately, I cannot believe the Bible was written by God. I believe it was written by men who were deeply motivated and believed what they wrote; however, there are too many contradictions for me to accept God wrote it. I believe the writers tried to explain things attributed to their God in ways they could understand.

Don’t misunderstand my lack of belief in the Bible being from the literal hand of God as my believing science has all the answers. I’m old enough to know science as we know it is different from science of years ago (from what I understand science now says the world is not flat), and I’d be amazed if some of the things science says are true now aren’t proved wrong in years to come. To my way of thinking science is merely trying to explain the wonders of God’s creation.

My impression of the Bible is it talks about different Gods in the Old and New Testaments; therefore, the Bible doesn’t stand alone for me. If there is one thing my God is, it is consistent. My God was the same 5000 years ago, as today, as 5000 years from now. What is right doesn’t change with time. According to society it does, but I don’t believe it does for my God.

My vision of God was affected in some part by my growing up without a father. (No, I’m not blaming my father for my failures. I gave up blaming him for stuff a long time ago. I’m sure he was doing the best he could with what he had to work with at the time, just as I’m now trying to do.) That being said, I must confess the Lord’s Prayer took on a different meaning for me when I became a father. Initially I felt “Our Father which art in Heaven” was exactly like my father – somewhere else, not where I was. Once we had our sons it took on a different perspective.

Of course, becoming a father gave me some insight into fatherly love, albeit imperfect. Sure, I’d get angry with my sons for things they did, after all I’m far from being God (and so were they). In the end, I’d forgive everything (they didn’t do anything terrible) but I could easily picture a Heavenly Father not getting mad in the first place and forgiving far more than I ever had to do.

My God is loving, all-wise, all-knowing and all-powerful. I firmly believe there is nothing that can’t be done by my God, and everything is known by my God. Those beliefs bring about some problems. The first problem an all-knowing, all-powerful God brings is the value of prayer. If we are in a situation we don’t like, doesn’t praying for help say something like, “God you don’t know what is happening to me, please help.” In my mind, an all-knowing God definitely knows the situation I’m in; therefore, I can’t pray like that. Or perhaps the prayer is saying, “God you didn’t know what you were doing when you put me in this situation. So, please change it.” I don’t think I have to expound on why I can’t pray that way. I feel praying to an all-knowing, all-powerful God for help is insulting to God.

Of course, we could pray to God extolling His/Her creation and giving thanks for the many gifts given to us. My God doesn’t need ego stroking. What’s the point? The all-powerful, all-knowing God knows how much we appreciate the creation. I believe God would rather have me doing something to get us closer to where we should be than mouthing platitudes of how great He/She is. (Yes, my God is genderless; however, to make this a little less unreadable, I am going to use the masculine because that’s the way I grew up and what I am use to.)

Another problem arising from my beliefs is the value of church services. In my opinion, much of the church service is spent telling God how great He is and/or asking Him to make things better. In other words, these are the same problems I have with prayer. The possible exception is the sermon which can provide motivations to get out and do something to get us to where God wants us to be.

Some question how an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving God can allow the bad things we see in the newspaper each day to happen. I’m not sure why, but this has never been a big issue for me. In my mind, God determined the way the world runs, and it must be good even though I hate it at times.

One of the things that came to me as I was considering my God being “father like” was the concept of time and pain. It struck me as a father I had, at times, deliberately had my sons hurt. Before anyone tries to turn me into children services, it was over forty years ago, and the pain I deliberately inflicted on them were shots administered by a doctor. While the doctor/nurse said it would be a little pinch, we all know it does hurt! As a father, I was willing to subject my sons to the pain because I knew the little pain was beneficial over the long run.

Other times there were pains my sons went through I wish I could have helped them avoid, but I’m not God. Some of those pains actually turned out beneficial for them even to my eyes. If God allows his children to go through pain (He could prevent it if He chose to), I have to assume some greater benefit is going to happen because of that child going through the pain. (This rationalization is much easier when someone else is doing the suffering.)

Another rationalization I have regarding the bad things that happen is they aren’t as bad as we think they are. We are infants compared to God. Just as some of the things that were so bad when we were young aren’t in retrospect, what we now see as terrible won’t be. The “little pinch” isn’t remembered by my sons and I can’t even remember the girl’s name who broke my heart in high school. The suffering experienced by Christ gives me some confidence in this belief. God’s Son was scourged and nailed to the cross. From our perspective it’s hard to imagine much worse. I can’t believe God would allow that to happen to His Son if it was as terrible as we perceive.

Another struggle I have with my perception of God being all-loving and all-forgiving is me not believing some people should be forgiven. Of course, I want to be forgiven, but people who do things worse than I do shouldn’t be, but that doesn’t fit all-forgiving God. My rationalization of this is God knows why those people do heinous things and takes that into account to forgive. Fortunately, he also takes into account the reasons why I do some of the things I'm not proud of doing and forgives me as well.

I’m sure there are more nuances of my God showing Him being different from your God, but for the most part that’s what I think my God is like. I hope it gives you something to think about. Maybe you’re like me and would really like to do things that please your God. I believe knowing what my God is like gives me a better chance of knowing what He would like me to do. (Now, if I could only do better at actually doing them, wouldn’t that be great!)

God – A second try

I’ve been reading Harold Kushner’s book Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life.  My wife Pam tuned me into the book by telling me it asked some of the same questions about God, religion, and life that we’ve talked about in the past. The book started out very well, but I ran into trouble not too far in. My initial interpretation of what he wrote was that he agreed with my concept of the Bible: it was what individuals a long time ago wrote of their beliefs of what/who God was.

We (Kushner and I) got into trouble when he started relating what his God was like and I was saying to myself that’s not my God. Of course, Harold Kushner is a recognized theologian and I’m an unrecognized old metallurgist. What gives me the right to say what God is like? I’m not an expert, or am I? Is there anyone who knows how I feel and what I believe better than I do? I don’t think so. Since God is a matter of belief, I know what I believe is my God.

Or did I know? As I was reading Kushner’s beliefs and shaking my head, I realized I could easily detect what I didn’t believe, but I had never tried to define what I do believe. Thus, the purpose of this piece. I’m going to try to define my God. Some may consider this blasphemous. I’m sorry you feel that way. Some may consider it a fool’s task. They’re most likely right; however, I hope by doing this I’ll achieve a better understanding of what I am doing and why.

I’ve found it’s easier for me to address certain issues rather than try to describe what my God is like from scratch. In doing it this way, I’m afraid a reader may find some redundancies, but, hopefully, not contradictions.

If the reader spots a topic of particular interest from the list below, clicking on the topic will take you to my thoughts on it. (The order of the topics is merely the way they came to mind.)

1)    There is a God

2)    My God is omnipotent

3)    My God does not have favorites.

4)    Why does my God allow all the bad things?

5)    Why are we?

6)    Is God Aware of me?

7)    What about an afterlife?


There is a God

I don’t believe the Bible is God’s word, or that the God as described therein is my God, I do believe there is a God. I cannot believe all this just happened by accident. There is the big bang theory some use to explain it, but what was before the big bang? I’ve read some possible theories, but they all start with something. Where did the something come from? To me, it was created by my God. The specifics of how we got from then to now is not that important to me. It doesn’t seem likely to me but if it was proven there was a garden of Eden and Eve was made from Adam’s rib, it wouldn’t bother me. Conversely, if someone can prove to me that something crawled out of slime and we evolved from that, that’s fine with me too. How my God decided to make things doesn’t bother me.  

My God is omnipotent.

Harold Kushner in Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life said “my notion of a God who was good and kind, but not all powerful…” does not jibe with my belief. My God is omnipotent, and he is also good and kind. (Ladies, please excuse me for using what some perceive as a male pronoun. Kushner in the same book gave me an out on this. He explained while “she” always refers to the female, “he” can be used for a reference to both sexes. I do not necessarily believe my God is male or female. It is not a significant issue for me. So, ladies, if I slip a “he” in reference to my God, excuse me. It’s not to diminish the possibility of God being a woman. It’s merely to allow ease of reading and writing.)  

As I believe my God created the universe and everything in it, only something omnipotent could do that. As far as my God being good and kind goes, I’ll address that in the section “Why does my God allow all the bad things?”

My God is omnipotent not only his ability to create but also in his ability to know what people are thinking and feeling.

My God does not have favorites.

I find it rather amusing how the Jewish faith believes they are God’s chosen ones. I’ve done some reading of native American religions. From what I’ve seen, they all believe they are God’s chosen ones. My God doesn’t have favorites. It doesn’t make sense to me. Would a God who created all the various peoples have a favorite. Would a father have a favorite child? Maybe, but my God is better than that.

Why does my God allow all the bad things?

This is a tough question for people like me who grew up in a Christian tradition. Harold Kushner became famous because of his first book When Bad Things Happen to Good People. I confess I have not read it, because I worked out an answer that works for me. That answer is “I’m not God.” I know that’s not profound, but for many of us it is an answer that’s hard to swallow. There are all sorts of sayings and stories about how much we will enjoy life if we stop thinking we are responsible for running the world. I accept that my God knows what he’s doing, and I don’t.


It's unfathomable to me that my God would allow some of the things we read about, hear about, or see on TV. My rationalization of these is that they must be happening for a purpose I don’t understand. Yes, it’s not easy at times. What could be the purpose of having an infant sexually molested? I don’t know and it’s very frustrating at times; however, I accept God knows more than me and there must be a reason.


I can almost hear the reader saying, “How can you believe that?”  First, let me say it’s not easy; however, I do have a logic that works for me. For those of you who are parents, have you ever had your child given a shot to immunize them? Did the shot hurt them? The appropriate answer is not much – the “little pinch” still hurts. So, as a parent you deliberately allowed someone to hurt your child. The logic is: it’s just a little hurt and it will be much better for them in the long run. I agree with that logic, but do you think the screaming infant was buying it at the time? The screaming child isn’t smart enough or has the experience necessary to understand.


I look at those things we ask “how can God allow that to happen” in the same way. I believe in an omnipotent, loving God who is smart enough to create the world we live in and that makes Him far smarter than I am or ever will be. I suppose my accepting my God knows what he’s doing when allowing the terrible things is called faith.


Why are we?

It’s almost a stereotype that people ask, “Why am I here?” That’s easy for me. My God wanted me here. What was harder for me to answer was the question, “Why are we here?”

Why would God bother with all this? After all, couldn’t He just perceive what was going to happen? My initial reaction to this was that it was great news. He surely would have thought it through and liked what He saw. So, here we are, and things are going to be great!

Of course, easy answers never really sit well with me, and I got to thinking about the old joke. The one where the man asks God, “Is it true that you’re omnipotent, and time to you is almost meaningless? Lifetimes to us are mere seconds to you?”

God responded, “Yes, that’s all true.”

The man then asks, “God, would you please let me win the lottery?”

God nodded and said, “In a second.”

Remembering that joke led me to wonder, is this all this really just my God thinking through what would happen? While that’s not as comforting as my first reaction, it still confirms My God is in charge and can take care of things if they aren’t going the way He wants.

Is God Aware of me?

One of the comforts that many, if not all, of the Christian faiths offer is the ability to talk with their God through prayer. That provides confirmation the individuals are important to God.

My God doesn’t need prayer. He has set the way things are done and doesn’t need my input. In all honesty, I resent prayers asking God to do things – win sports games, wars, cure illness, pass tests, and the list is almost infinite. My God knows what he’s doing. If I’m praying for Him to do something, aren’t I saying I’m smarter than Him. I’m telling Him I know better. I know that’s not true! It also goes against my grain to spend time praising Him and his work! He doesn’t need me telling Him how great He is. We humans like and need that kind of praise. My God doesn’t!

All that being said, I want to believe My omnipotent God does know what is going on with me. He knows I’m in awe of his creation. He also knows I don’t like the aches and pains associated with aging, I worry about my wife Pam, my sons, and their families, and I think justice isn’t being served by our officials; however, I don’t expect Him to do anything about those concerns because He knows far better than I do what’s supposed to happen.

This is a problem with my beliefs. There is a great deal of comfort in prayer. The idea of saying “Please, help me” to a God you know can help is comforting. It doesn’t work in my beliefs, and I miss it! It puts all the pressure on me. If I don’t study for the exam, I can’t expect my God to bail be out. If I do something stupid and get myself in trouble, same answer. It’s not comforting, but I do think it’s logical and it’s what I believe.

I suppose “talking to my God,” internally verbalizing my concerns could possibly give some comfort. Yes, He knows what I am going to say before I say it, but He certainly can listen to my babble if He’s omnipotent. And, I have the feeling if it provides me with comfort, He’d be good with it. I think I’ll try not asking for help or praising Him, but merely chatting about how I am feeling this and that.

What about an afterlife?

One of the appeals of Christianity and other religions is the idea of Heaven. It appears to some Christians I am already excluded from Heaven because of my questioning the definitions of God and the Bible; however, I reject that exclusion. You see, my God is not only all knowing, but He’s also all forgiving. He knows I honestly question some of these things because of the life I’ve led and what I have been taught. My God would not deny heaven to an aboriginal who has never heard of Christ for not believing in Him and if there is a heaven, He will not deny it to me because of the questioning mind He blessed me with.

You may note I wrote if there is a heaven. Heaven is one of those things that stretches the logic of my mind. If my God is all forgiving, there have been a lot of people who have gone to heaven. Where are they? Of course, the idea of creating the universe stretches my logic even further, but not as far as the universe being created by accident.

So, if there’s no heaven, it doesn’t affect my beliefs. I’d like to believe that I will go on; hopefully, without the effects of age, but if I don’t, I won’t know about it.

That brings up another problem with my beliefs, in particular if there’s no heaven and/or my God is all forgiving and everyone goes to heaven, why should I be good?

The easy answer is I’m a wimp and want people to like me. I suppose that’s a cop out. I believe God wants people to be kind and help each other, but He wants it to be a matter of free will. He wants us to be kind and help each other because it’s the right thing to do not because of what it’s going to get us.

So, that’s what my God is like. I believe I’ve gained some better understanding of what I believe. If you feel the need, I hope it’s helpful to you in deciding what your God is like.


As always I welcome comments!


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