When I read this post I kicked myself for not writing this sooner.
The fact that God is not a genie has been in my mind for years. It’s been hard to write for reasons that will perhaps become clearer. My reminder to myself that ‘God is not a genie’ is slightly different though. It’s based on Aladdin.
For a long time as I was separated and divorced, moving on in all sorts of ways, I had this lingering feeling. However much I prayed, believed that God could do the improbable and the humanly impossible, the one thing He couldn’t do was this. In my head, God was this genie. He’d have loved to give me love, but it wasn’t in his power to do so.
I was acutely aware of the power of free will. After all, I’d spent weeks on my knees pleading with God to save my ex-husband’s love for me and revitalise our marriage. It hadn’t happened. Of course my ex-husband had a choice about that and God respects our freedom to choose.
But I carried that thought process into my love life. Love was up to me to find, to figure out, and I had an inaccurate perception that God was indeed the genie – everything except that.
But God is not a genie. Indeed the Genie has limitations. He can’t kill people, he can’t bring people back from the dead, he can’t make anyone fall in love. I believe God is different.
He chooses to be benevolent even as we are imperfect. He doesn’t smite us from the earth – since the time of Noah he’s promised never to do so again:
“The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.
“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.””
Genesis 8:21-22 NIV
He doesn’t promise us riches or that everything can be made as we want it in a snap of his fingers. I don’t believe that faith in God brings human prosperity, although sometimes we are financially blessed and prosper greatly in career or other such things. Believing in God provides a long term, continuing perspective that helps us weather the storms and has us praising in the triumphs.
While Aladdin’s Genie gives him what he thinks he wants, God sometimes doesn’t give us what we want. But this doesn’t mean He can’t. My perception was skewed. I assumed God couldn’t give me someone to love. It was too complicated and hard, for me, and for God. But God isn’t a genie. He’s bigger than that. He’s not trapped in a lamp, limited to three ideas. He sometimes waits to be asked for things, and doesn’t force himself on us, but he does like to draw close and hear our hearts’ desires.
And, fundamentally and most importantly, God can bring people back from the dead. Okay, we may not see this in the Western world, but just because we don’t see things doesn’t mean we don’t know they can happen. Jesus died on purpose. He took our sins on himself, took the punishment, but crucially, hell, death and Satan could not hold him. He broke the power of death. God can bring people back from the dead. And we’re offered the chance for this too, our eternal life is secured if we choose to accept what Jesus has done.
So God is most definitely not a genie. He’s not cowed by death, and He certainly isn’t going to therefore be intimidated by a love life. Yes we have free will, but we can also hear the promptings of God. He can soften hearts, harden hearts, and answer prayers.
And in case you’re interested reader (which I definitely would be), love turned up where I least expected it to, and with the standard staggering realisation that he liked me too. Over a year later we’re very happy and have learnt a lot…maybe there’ll be a divorced and dating strand sometime. But regardless of whether love turns up or not, regardless of whether God brings a person quite literally back from the dead, God is no genie. He is bigger, more powerful and more awe-inspiring than a cave full of jewels to a pauper Aladdin.