How Do You Describe God?

elephant collage 2


Someone recently asked me how I would describe God. My mind immediately went to the ancient parable of the blind men discovering an elephant for the first time.

With great fascination they each grabbed hold of part of the giant beast in order to better understand it. As one man felt its large ear gently waving to keep pests away, the man described the elephant as a soft leathery fan. Another man held onto the elephant’s tail and deduced an elephant is strong and slender like a snake. The man standing beside one of the elephant’s large legs told the others the elephant was like a tree trunk, tall and stately.

The moral of the story of course, is each one was entirely accurate and completely wrong at the same time. Trying to describe God through my limited knowledge and experiences of him is also based on a very minute view of all that he is.

Whether through my comprehension of the Bible or through personal experiences – my understanding is limited at best.

Some days he is like a fan. I feel movement and breeze when I spend time with him. I sense his involvement and intervention in my life. While other days he seems distant and rigid – stately and hard to grab onto.

And just when I think I’ve got it all figured out, things shift and my firm convictions are challenged by what I read or experience. My hold on the tail of truth whips free and I’m left grasping for a better understanding of the God I love.

He is immense to me like the elephant was to the blind men. He is untamable, no matter how long I’ve known him. He will never be fully understood by my finite mind. And yet, he is approachable and within reach.

When I feel blind I choose to stand firm. I wait for his voice, for his touch. I stand firm on the truth I know.

I know his consistent love. I know he is trustworthy. I know him even though I will never fully understand him until I see his full person, when I am free of mine.

So how would I describe him?

He is large, inexplicably large. He is gentle and strong, stronger than any force known to man. He is ever-present, no matter how distant he seems to be – he’s everywhere. He laughs and cries, he speaks and listens. He’s tender and fierce, gracious and just. He’s approachable, reasonable, multilingual and fair. He does more than love, he is love.

He is creative beyond understanding. He speaks without a voice – and yet speaks with a voice every person is able to hear. He never turns his back on the hurting. He hears, heals and patiently waits. His nature is like nothing we have known – and yet we are created in his likeness. He is simply indescribable.

The pursuit of God can never be exhausted – I am convinced there will always be more to discover about him. The tragedy is feeling satisfied with what we already know or dogmatically declaring we know it all.

I can’t help but make an attempt to describe such mystery and wonder. But please don’t take my word – discover for yourself and never, ever become satisfied with what you find.


 photo credit – and acknowledgment the original version is much prettier



17 replies on “How Do You Describe God?”

  1. God describes himself throughout the Bible. He tells us he is Spirit, he is holy, he is light and revealed fully in his Son, Jesus Christ. The partial picture of who he is, is complete through his Son; the unveiled mystery.

  2. God is a living personal Spirit that I’m glad to say I know, even if only through a finite and limited lens.

  3. Thank you, Pat, as always, for your intimate insights that touch me where I live and breathe. Thank your for the encouragement to keep on keeping on in closing in on knowing Who He Is!

    1. You’re a blessing to my life too, Cindy. We’re definitely better together in this amazing journey we call faith. Bless your weekend, friend.

  4. This post is full of the beauty of Who He is, yet leaves me wanting to discover more of Him for myself!

    1. Your heart beats hard for the Lord, Elizabeth. Proverbs 8:17 makes me think of you, “I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.” Blessings to you.

  5. I enjoyed your post. Very good analogy. We all view Him different ways but still loving and following Him. I see God through Jesus, who is also compassionate. He calls us His friends and He prayed for us, who He did not have with him while here on earth. That is my favorite passage as well. John 17:20-26. Have a good week!

    1. I love John Ch 17 too. It’s such a beautiful summary of Christ’s mission here on earth. It also drives home the fact Christ came for one reason – to glorify the Father, which superseded everything else. You’re right, when we Jesus, we see God.

      Thanks so much for adding to the discussion Becky, your words made my heart smile.

  6. Pat, thought-provoking analogy here. To me tonight, He is tender and He is my comforter. Thanks for prodding my mind in the direction of wrapping words around how He’s loving me right now. Stopped by from Lisha’s and glad I did. 🙂 Bless you!

    1. He so loves you, Dana. It’s obvious he’s been tender and comforting to you – my faith is strengthened by your example. Bless you for taking time to comment.

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