I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to figure out God in one way or another. I don’t have a conversion story; I’ve always believed. It’s what I do with that belief that has at times become problematic. I’ve strayed (oh, friend, how I’ve strayed) but always come back, and with a deeper appreciation of the One whom I worship. Still, the truth remains inescapable after all these years—the One I worship is a mystery. One I will forever try to solve but will forever remain unsolvable. On this side of heaven, anyway.
Who He is and what, why He does the things He does. Ask me those things and I’ll give you an answer, though that answer may be more in the form of a question than anything else. Maybe that’s the point. God’s ways aren’t our ways, the Book says. His thoughts are not our thoughts.
There was a time though, the summer I turned six, when I very nearly had God figured out. That’s the year I discovered God was Andy Griffith.
You know Andy, right? Had a TV show back in the 60s. Played a sheriff in the town of Mayberry? Boy named Opie and an aunt named Bea. Deputy Barney Fife? Sure you do. You read this blog, you just about have to be an Andy Griffith kind of person.
That summer my dad and I had a standing appointment to watch Andy Griffith every weekday afternoon on channel 3. To my memory, we never missed a single one. I loved Andy, I truly did. If he would’ve chewed Red Man and cussed a lot more and kept a jar of moonshine in the freezer, he could’ve been just like my own father.
Round about July was when I learned Andy was God (or God was Andy, whichever you’d prefer). I was sitting in church and tugging at my collar one Sunday when hymn time came. I could read some of the words in the hymnal but not all, so I had to follow along with the singing. When the congregation reached the chorus, I had a revelation.
“Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am His own.”
I can honestly say I’d never felt so happy.
Of course, that didn’t last very long. School started again a few months later. I learned to read and more and better. Didn’t take me long to realize ANDY was in face AND HE. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. That day, Andy turned back into all the things that had come before. Back to God, to He, to Yahweh and I AM. Back to all those names that sounded small in my head but too big for me to figure in my heart.
I’m forty-two now, a long way from six. But I’ll say there are still times when I think of God like Andy Griffith. Hard times, dark ones, those long stretches when life doesn’t seem to make much sense. I’ll think about all those times when Andy showed drunk Otis mercy and clumsy Barney grace. When Opie had problems and his dad was there with some words of advice and a lap to sit on and an “I love you, son.” In the end, that’s just about all I need.
Just about all any of us needs.