Grace Wins the Day!
Someone wrote me a year or two ago about having a hard time seeing "God All in all" in various things in life, including the suicide of a friend. I wrote the below as an answer back then. Yesterday I found out someone I loved very much committed suicide a few days ago. I found myself with some of the same questions. I found this piece again and re-read it, and though I thought it a bit academic, it seems worth sharing again. My heart is in it.
All my love,
You always ask me the most honest and penetrating questions.
When I say see "all" in God, I'm hesitant to provide a "technique" or "description" of how that works because then it seems to me it almost becomes something we "train" our minds to do, i.e., "how" to see. Then instead of simply "seeing" we adjust ourselves to a "philosophy" which is an interpretation of what we see, and that can become a trap.
But I'll attempt something here that maybe will be helpful. The thing that comes to mind first is something I read long ago in Jacob Boehme. I didn't understand it really, all those years ago when I first read it, but lately I have in some small way begun to see what he meant.
Boehme basically said that when we are living in a full union reality, our "eye" sees both into "eternity" and into "time." In other words, we see the Eternal AND the Temporal simultaneously. Both are real. One interpenetrates and indwells the other. The "temporal" cannot perceive the "eternal" though it is fully inundated with it & composed of it. However, in Christ our eyes are opened, in our faith, to see the Eternal's full integration into the temporal world.
Another set of terms we are familiar with is "quantity & quality." And the situation you describe has something to do with that, I think.
Let me explain. The devil, and all who live deceived into his contrary will, lives in the "quantity" of God. As we have said over and over and over, God is eternally the ALL, in all that is. He is the ground of all being. The universe actually consists, we might almost say, "physically" of Him. (I use the term "physically" to describe something that isn't actually "physical" but I hope you get the point.) Colossians said "by Him all things consist and are held together." It is IN the "being" of God that EVERYTHING exists. This is basic.
If "all" is God why, then, did Paul preach Jesus Christ resurrected to the Athenians? (Acts 17) He had just told them that they lived in God. Why isn't that sufficient, why would Paul upset their applecart by telling them they needed something more?
Getting back to the analogy above, the answer is that while "all" is in the "being" of God, or maybe it is rather more correct to say that all has its being in God, i.e. everything that exists is part of the "quantity" of God, still all does not in itself reflect the "Quality" of God, which is His Person, which is Other-love. Yes, Christ is the basis of all that is, still because of freedom in the universe which originates in God, without which no creature could really be a person, God's Love is so complete and so selfless that He can allow in His Freedom His Own Expressed Word, which is Christ, Who upholds all things, to be distorted into that which is opposite of God as He is in Himself, i.e. a creature to become wholly consumed with itself, that, even though a form of God in the basis of its being, the creature by its turning away or refusal to live in the love of God, becomes a distorted opposite image of the Living God it was created to reflect.
So when I say that we see Christ in all and God as all in all I'm not also meaning that we are not acutely aware of what is happening in the temporal which is before our eyes. God puts these situations before our eyes on purpose. Everything is educational but also far more than that, because everything is redemptive, and we are actively a part of that redemption.
Simply BECAUSE God is the "being" of all that is, and eternally is All in all, it means therefore that from the inner depths of each wayward creature who is still caught in the deception of its own independence and either self-loathing or even self-uplifting pride, God's Word resounds, always calling His sheep back to the fold of oneness in Him.
When I say, "see God only" or everyone as Christ, it is in the mind that it is God, or Christ, that we see, and not a mind-game or the "theology" of the party I feel a part of. To see God is to see Truth. It is "clarity" of seeing. It means that in God one does see the devil as the devil, but sees him in his place, as perhaps an unwilling and unknowing, but nevertheless forever, servant of God. It means that one sees whatever "evil" is there, but likewise the far more overriding Truth that God MEANS it to be so, at this present moment, as it is, as all things from eternity "work together for good."
So, as you say, the murderer, the rapist, the whatever, are obviously not God in His Love IN THEMSELVES. In "themselves," (and this doesn't apply to just murderers & rapists, but to all who have not yet passed from darkness to light), they experience the "wrath" of the father of wrath, who has them (I kind of hate to keep talking about "them" when I am of "them," but I will keep using the term just for clarity) in his grasp and building his monuments of hate and self-love. Caught in the hold of the deceiver, who masks himself as "I-me-mine," the husks of wrath and futility always hold sway and produce only greater and greater hunger, which is intended to eventually bring us to our senses and remember Who is our Father -- for we all know Who is our Father.
Now I say that they are not God in His love "in themselves." And by that I mean that the "self" they know as themselves is a false self, an invention of the devil, and while living in his delusion and lie the false self invented by the father of lies is who we think we are, and we may think we are a pretty good kind of self, nice to folks as best we can be, or we can think we're the scum of the earth and don't deserve to live, but either way we live for ourselves even though we live in the being of God.
This does not mean, however, that we/they who are caught in the devil's snare for a time, are NOT God in His love going out to other people. ALL THINGS work together for Good! That means even rapists and murderers as well as bankers, accountants, and lawyers. Policemen, EVEN terrorists! All are God in His love, because ALL obey Him, even though some in their foolish rebellion think they don't. Those in rebellion simply obey Him as vessels of wrath.
And in "seeing God only" we both "see God" in everyone and at the same time see the veil of the enemy where it has ensnared some.
That may call for action sometimes, sometimes not. We are free. It is sometimes right to say, "an enemy hath done this," even though we know that when sin abounds, grace doth much more abound. There are no hard and fast rules about "how" we are to see situations and people or what to do about them. We have some general principles, still God Himself is our "seeing," and He sees with clarity. We might make a scourge of cords and run everybody out of the house, or we might make a big dinner and ask everybody to sit down and eat.
We are, by first our "seeing" and then our faith, to take our part in Christ reconciling all things unto Himself. Jesus finished all on the Cross but left us to work it out gradually through the centuries by each generation "filling up that which is behind of the sufferings of Christ" to complete the work of the redemption of the universe. Each of us in our lives in Christ, are called to be the focal point through which His redemption and reconciliation are seen and declared in the world through the lives we are given.
So where the enemy has apparently won the day, which is almost always what suicide appears to be, we don't give him the satisfaction. We declare in ourselves GOD has won the day, and that His mercy overrides any despair, and any pain, and that the despair and the pain and anguish which the enemy sent in order to kill and destroy, the Father uses to redeem and reconcile. If I see someone so anguished and despairing and turned in on themselves in torment that they take their own life, then I also see the infinite mercy of God and the Love of God on the Cross that in the midst of the self-brought pain and self-brought despair of the whole human race on Him, when He cried, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
EVERYTHING is redemptive! Everything is intended to bring Life. Life always comes out of death. God is love.