God of Me
Imagining God throughout Your Lifetime
By Rabbi David Lyon
Jewish Lights Publishing, 2011, 157 pages
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - February 8, 2011
Most people have no feeling of God being present in their lives. If they think about God at all, they think God is transcendent rather than immanent, that God created or formed the world, but is not involved in its daily affairs or in their lives. They think that God left the running of the world to the laws of nature that God created for it. Rabbi David Lyon addresses how people at different times of their lives, for the concerns of every age are different, can imagine or feel God's presence. He does this well in ten chapters. He adds ten additional very short chapters with questions addressing the issues in the main text that can be used for discussions and to provoke additional thoughts.
Lyon's style is to quote a brief section of the Bible, the rabbinical Midrash (sermonic interpretation or parable) on the text, and discuss what the Midrash is stating about a relationship with God. Among many good ideas, Lyon suggests that a person must first replace images of God learned during childhood, and he tells how to do so. He writes that the biblical description of God appearing to Moses in a thorn bush teaches that God is everywhere, even in soup kitchens, rubble, and the hurricane devastated New Orleans. God is present in good and bad times. People need to learn how to respond like Moses when he said to God, "Here I am." "God hears us according to what we bring to God; likewise, what we bring is all that we can expect to get back from God." God cannot "be proved or defined. God can only be encountered through meetings where we" accept a relationship with God.
God, the rabbi teaches, is unconditional love. When tragedy occurs, people need to use the tragedy as an opportunity to become aware of God's love, to realize that "God lives with us in all times of our life," to know that God helps people persevere even when they falter or stumble or misstep, to know that God does not abandon them.
Lyon tells how people can return to God after years of estrangement. He discusses how to find God. He tells how a synagogue and the observance of the Shabbat can help. He shares interesting insights. The fifth commandment, for example, says "honor" your father and mother. It does not command children to obey them or even love them. It requires children to respect, listen to, and learn from parents, "even when we set aside their advice for more personal preferences."
In summary, the rabbi offers his readers an opportunity to learn how they can feel God in their lives and how that feeling can make them stronger and give them more enjoyment to their lives.