Is God a cosmic traffic-warden?

You’ve seen them around with their red coats – at least that’s what they wear in our part of the world. Is it only me, or is there something about the uniform that  reminds anyone else of the Salvation Army? Just for a laugh I’d love to have the courage to speak to one of them as if they were part of the Salvation Army: you know, dig out a few coins and ask which particular good cause they are collecting for this year!

But what does this have to do with God?

Anyone remember this?

Be careful, little eyes, what you see (repeat)

Be careful little ears what you hear (repeat)

etc…

There’s a Father up above, and he’s looking down in love,

So be careful, little eyes, what you see.

Maybe you learned it in Sunday School.

Again it may be only me, but does anyone else think there might be something slightly unusual about the tone of this little song?

I suppose I could ask the question like this: is the point of the song to teach us that God loves us (he’s watching down in love), or is it to warn us that we’d better be careful, because he sees what we do. Nothing escapes his attention.

Like a traffic warden.

Do you see what I mean?

Should it make us happy or worried? Happy that he loves us or worried that none of our sins escapes his attention?

The thing is, the all-seeing eye of God works both ways in Scripture.

Like Jonah. Thought he could try running away. File under futile. Imagine attempting to run away from the presence of the Lord. That’s what he tried to do. But you can’t. And he couldn’t. A storm, a fish, a second call to go to Nineveh, and off went Jonah with a message he didn’t want to preach – at least not to this particular crowd.

There is no escape. Be careful, little eyes….

And then there’s David. In Psalm 139.

Where shall I go from your Spirit?

Unlike Jonah, David knew there was no point in trying. And, unlike Jonah, he had no desire to try anyway. He stood in amazement at the all-seeing, all-knowing God. And far from trying to hide, he actually prayed like this:

Search me, O God, and know my thoughts.

God already had searched him and he already knew David’s thoughts. David’s response was to lay his life before God like an open book.

And then wasn’t there that story in Genesis where Hagar is on the run. Not from God, but from the mess that has come about in the family of Abram and Sarai. The Lord saw her in the desert and sent and angel with a promise.

You are a God who sees me.

God sees. God hears. God knows.

Those are the facts.

Could it be that it’s those who view him as little more than a cosmic traffic warden who will want to follow Jonah and run and hide?

But it’s those who view him as a loving Father who will be glad that he is watching.

What do you think?

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