Monday, July 7, 2008

Our Image of God: Is He the Boogie Man?

According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the word ‘boog-ie-man,’ (also boog-ey-man, boog-y-man or bo-gey-man), is a noun meaning ‘A terrifying specter; a hobgoblin.’

With that in mind I ask, “Is God bigger then the Boogie Man or is HE the Boogie Man?” You may think this is a blasphemous question, but hopefully, when you’ve finished reading this, you’ll know the answer.

The Veggie Tales characters sing a song entitled “God is Bigger;” here are the words to the chorus: “God is bigger then the boogie man. He’s bigger than Godzilla, or the monsters on TV. Oh, God is bigger than the boogie man. And He’s watching out for you and me.” Cute song with cute lyrics sung by cute vegetable characters.

When I was a little girl, my grandma used to keep us children close to home and scare us into coming indoors when it got dark by admonishing us, “If you don’t be careful, the Boogie Man will get you.” Often my cousins, brothers and I would stay overnight at our grandparents. After we went to bed, we’d sometimes look out into the darkness and imagine we saw the Boogey Man lurking around behind the chicken house, garage or water pump. In fact, we were pretty sure he was watching us all the time; especially when it got dark.

Some of the preachers of my childhood, including my father, tried to scare people into being ‘good’ by making ridiculous statements and trying to enforce manmade rules. In doing this, they made God into a Boogie Man who was stalking us, waiting to ‘get us’ if we did anything ‘wrong.’ This image of God was reinforced in our home, where our actions were micromanaged and infractions of rules swiftly dealt with in a not so gentle manner. At some point, my image of God merged with my image of my father. (The following image is not my father, and it's certainly not God. However, it may give you an idea of the 'mad man' whom we sometimes view God to be.)

It wasn’t until after Dad’s death that I fully learned of God’s love. Sadly, by that time, I was 43 years old, and most of my children were grown. During those years I had perceived God as a Boogie Man, He had actually been waiting for me to open the entire gift He had bought me long before I was born. I knew He had purchased my eternal life by sacrificing His ONLY Son; that part of His gift I had opened when I was very young. But due to the Boogie Man image of God that I had been taught and raised with, it took awhile to find the consistent, unconditional love that had been included with that gift. Instead of being anxious for a chance to punish me, He’d been right there, loving me and looking out for my well-being and safety. When I fall, as I often do, He’s always there to pick me up. He is my Loving Father; I am His grateful child. In fact, I’m sure He’s watching me ALL the time; especially when life gets dark.

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