If you have been following my blog, you likely realize that I’m on an odyssey of sorts. The farther I delve into this journey, the more epic I am realizing it is. With every passing year, I am gaining a bit more perspective on the reality that this span of time allotted to each of us in different, unknown quantities is a mere breath of eternity. As this realization grows, the more hyper-focused I am becoming at discovering all that God has deposited in me, His reasons for doing so, and the avenues by which He plans to bring those gifts to maturation.
You know, we all have a tainted view of God. The Apostle Paul tells us that we see through a smudged glass at best. (My paraphrase.) I love how The Message paraphrases it:
We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! ~1 Corinthians 13:12 (MSG)
It’s interesting to me that different people get hung up on different aspects of who God is. For example, many people don’t want to get too close or put too much emphasis on the Holy Spirit… Uncomfortable. I get that. But I’ve learned to make this my prayer. “God, if it doesn’t offend you, don’t let it offend me. Give me the discernment I need to know what is of man and what is of You.”
Then there is Jesus. I find most Christians are comfortable with Him because, well, He became one of us. He gets us, our emotions, struggles, and pain. He took it all on. He’s safe.
But here is something I never saw in myself until recently, and I wonder how many of you might relate. I have lived my life in fear of God the Father. Why is that? In part at least, I believe it’s this. Our earthly fathers are imperfect, but the only measure by which we define the word [Father]. And sadly, likely without realizing it, we project their inadequacies, mistakes, and flaws onto our Heavenly Father. In my case, (and I believe he is humble enough at this point in his life for me to say this), growing up, my dad, although a believer who loves the Lord, had anger issues from unresolved hurts in his own life. So although I knew he loved me for so many reasons and things he did right, I became an egg-shell-walker and avoided him a lot when he was around. The truth is, if I needed something, I was much more inclined to go to my mom about it, because she felt more safe to me.
And that is just what I have done with God. Here was how I approached the throne: “Um…Jesus, could you talk to the Father for me about this? Or even: “Holy Spirit, the Word of God says that You intercede on my behalf to the Father too, so can you take this need to Him?” And when I did feel bold enough to address Him directly (which Jesus died so we may), I did it on my proverbial tip-toes, watching Him closely in case I was overstepping my bounds.
One of my local radio stations airs a daily broadcast by a man with an unmistakably rich baritone voice named Steve Brown. One of the things Steve often says is, “Friends, God is not mad at you.” Do you know that? As crazy as it sounds, I knew that in my head, but until recently, without even realizing it, I didn’t trust it to be completely true in my heart. See I know all too well the failures that I have racked up. The enemy is really good at reminding me, you know. So with those on the forefront of my mind, I imagine they are on the Father’s as well when I approach Him. It’s as if I think my sins have made me fall from His good graces even though I know I’m forgiven. Perhaps I haven’t earned my way back into enough of His favor to ask so much of Him. (Yuck! There is that “religion” again. How did that sneak in?)
Once I wrapped my head around this new epiphany, I asked God (The Father) to forgive me first of all, then to help me tear down the walls I had erected because I didn’t know how. I asked Him to begin wiping the smudges away that made the glass I see Him through so tainted. And this is one of the things He has been teaching me. Jesus’ words, as recorded by Matthew:
And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. ~Matthew 18:3 (NIV)
Did you ever think through that? There are so many aspects of a child that apply here, but picture this scenario with me for a moment. A little baby is about to take her first step. She is unsure, teetery, and unstable. Yet, her daddy, whom she trusts and adores is a few feet away with his arms held out, imploring her to come. She stands there for a moment, no doubt tottering between the safety of her current position and the excitement and draw of being close to her daddy. Finally, with enough encouragement, she takes a step toward him, then another, and just as her little legs loose their balance and she is about to plunge head-first onto the floor, he catches her up and to her delight, tosses her into the air before catching her again and holds her close to his heart.
Does he chastise her for the fact that her steps were unstable? Did he wear a frown or scowl at her for not coming right away? Is he angry that she was falling? No way! He is delighted that she came to him! He praises her, and puts her down to try again. Now, with growing confidence, she steps out with less hesitation, motivated by the exhilaration of the coming toss in the air and her daddy’s affirmation and affection.
Do you see where I am headed? This has literally been my experience of late with God the Father. I have discovered that not only is He not scary, but in fact, He delights in me – wobbly, insecure, messy-faced me. And I have also discovered that I love being close to Him. I don’t only experience the grace and love He gives, but am sensing His unmerited favor as well. Grace and favor…that’s another post for another day.
So what about you? Do you project your experiences with others onto the character of God? Perhaps some of you had a dad that left. Fear of abandonment is likely an issue for you. Do you struggle to trust God? Maybe you were abused in some way leaving you with a hostility toward God. Perhaps it wasn’t a dad who let you down, but a priest, a spouse, a teacher, or a relative whom you looked up to…some person in a position of influence or authority in your life whose flaws you subconsciously project onto our loving Creator. May I challenge you to allow Him to speak for Himself? Ask Him to tear down the walls you have erected. Invite Him to wipe some of the smudges away from the looking glass and reveal His heart for you. Seek Him in His Word for the truth of His character. He is gentle. He is kind. God is love – deeper and more fulfilling than any human is capable of being, let alone comprehending. Take a few baby steps toward Him and give Him permission to blow your mind with His affection. Allow yourself to be undone in His presence. Experience a greater depth of a love more pure, real, and glorious than any tongue can tell. You will grow – closer to Him, as well as in your understanding of who you are. You will begin to understand what the giftings are that He planted in you, and why He put them there. And like the little child who taps her fingers together simultaneously signing and singing out “More! More!”, you will find yourself experiencing your own odyssey, reaching new heights as He tosses you up into the air, basking in His love, and marveling at His favor.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to share this post if it blesses you, and click on the picture below to hear one of my latest songs entitled: