Have you ever been told things about a person whom you didn't know but once you became acquainted with that person yourself, you encountered a totally different vibe? Your experience didn't quite match the picture that was painted. The picture may not have necessarily been bad but it just didn't coincide with your experience. That differing picture probably at least initially, affected your interactions with that person and consequently, your efforts to get know them better.
Not knowing God for myself, I became susceptible to the idea of Him as a punishing God.
Since we all are different people with different perspectives, this happens quite often. Many of the misunderstandings I had about God were because I didn't know Him for myself. I was relying on the picture others painted for me instead of having my own experiences from which to draw my own portrait.
God is all knowing and ever present. He patiently waits for us to receive Him and to open our hearts and minds to who He is. When I first tried to talk to God, to get close to Him, it wasn't me who was doing most of the talking. It was my representative. My representative was the perfect version of me. It was that person in my head that I thought God wanted me to be instead of the person I actually was.
Not knowing God for myself, I became susceptible to the idea of Him as a punishing God. Some folks promote the idea that He's always waiting around the corner with a giant lightening bolt ready to strike you down at your next wrong move. That intimidating image of Him led me to believe that taking certain feelings to Him would cause Him to become angry with me. I began to suppress my feelings to avoid God's certain wrath.
I thought I had to prove myself worthy of His time and attention.
I thought I had to be a certain way in order to be seen as a good person in His eyes. I believed I had to be pretty much perfect for Him to want to talk with and be close to me. I believed that I had to prove myself worthy of His time and attention. I knew I was in no way worthy but maybe my representative would be. I let my representative do most of the talking because in doing so, I just might be more pleasing in God's eyes.
Most of what I thought He wanted to hear was based on what others were telling me about what kind of God He is. It's a good thing to talk with people about God. In fact, fellowship is an important part of being in God's family. The problem is that I am a different person so the connection I have with Jesus is going to be different. There may be feelings and experiences that overlap but as a whole, each person's relationship with Him is unique and individual.
I was so focused on how others were close to God, that I was trying to follow their specific road map instead of embarking on the journey for myself. I was becoming frustrated because I couldn't understand why I wasn't feeling more connected to Him or having the same positive life results. I started to question whether that unconditional love I had heard so much about was meant for me at all.
Faith extends to knowing that He will love me regardless of my imperfections.
I was in my early twenties before someone I was in fellowship with gave me some earnest, life changing advice. He told me that when I talk to God, to just be myself, to be honest. He said that I should respectfully say exactly what was on my heart and mind. He reminded me that God already knows what's going on deep inside me. He instructed me that if I'm going to have faith in God, then that faith extends to knowing that He will love me regardless of my imperfections and the things that I take to Him in prayer. That includes those concerns that I initially may feel scared or ashamed to admit.
My friend was right. Regardless of what I say, do, think or feel, God will always love me. He already knows who I am. He was just waiting on me to trust Him enough to be my total and honest self. He was waiting on me to have enough faith in Him to come to Him with any and absolutely everything. He was waiting for me to figure out that His love is indeed unconditional.
He knows every minute detail down to the number of hairs on my head.
It's not that I intended to be disingenuous with God. It's just that I was trying to present such a positive picture of myself that I was leaving out everything that wasn't so great. I had to be reminded of the obvious. God is all knowing and is already fully aware of all of my inner mechanisms including the not so great things. He already has full knowledge of the ins and outs of my story. He knows every single detail down to the number of hairs on my head. There is absolutely nothing He doesn't already know about me and absolutely nothing that I can keep from Him.
The person I was trying to send to God on my behalf did not and never will exist. The person that I was then, am now and will grow to be, was and will always have problems and imperfections. The God who created me continues to love me despite that very human truth. Once that really sunk in, I was able to open myself up to God. I stopped trying to hide myself. I didn't have to send Him my representative anymore because the person He truly wanted to hear from was this imperfect me.
In pondering the question of why such a gentleman of a God allows bad things to happen, I came to the conclusion that many unwanted things happened in my life because of the choices I made with my free will. If God knew how flawed I would be and that I was going to make bad decisions, then why gift to me something so powerful as free will? In getting to know God, I realized it was not only because He wanted me to experience true love, it was also because He wanted me to live life to my highest potential.
God could have programmed every moment, every decision and every feeling of my life.
He wants me to truly love and to feel truly loved in return. I am thankful for the freedom to choose. I am thankful that I am not an unthinking and unfeeling robot made of flesh. After all, I can't recall not even one moment when I've witnessed a robot enjoying life. I've never seen a robot hug, laugh, or look deeply into someone's eyes. I am sure all of these responses could be programmed into a robot but they would never be truly felt, let alone, appreciated.
God could have programmed every moment, every decision and every feeling of my life into me during my creation but He did not. He wanted me to have those feelings and moments for myself. He wanted me to experience a truly fulfilling life. Free will is just one of the gifts He gave me to make this happen.
Free will is not a one way thing.
Free will is not a one way thing. I don't get to choose everything I want minus the consequences. Having faith does not absolve me of the repercussions of bad decisions. Bad decisions and consequences reminds me of the old adage of a young kid trying to touch the flame on the stove.
Mom or dad sees the youngster reaching for the flame and tells them not to touch it. They have the life experience and foresight to know better, to know what results from touching the flame. The youngster is so enamored and amazed by this flame that it can't believe that anything harmful could come from something so wondrous. The youngster touches the flame and of course, gets burnt.
We adult humans do this all the time. I know there were numerous times I ignored voices of love and experience because I could not see the link between the action and the consequence I was being warned of. I made seriously bad decisions without fully knowing the length of the consequences. Sometimes decisions can affect generations to come, like the ripples caused by a peddle tossed in an ocean.
Likewise, there's an almost endless sea of possibilities and outcomes as a result of the decisions we make. I've learned for myself that God didn't just leave me here on Earth without any help to maneuver through the infinite possibilities. God gave us Commandments and other teachings to do more than just help us to not get burnt. They were given to us so that we may flourish.
He didn't give us guidelines because He is a punishing God but because He is a loving one.
There is so much for us humans to take in that we will never figure it all out. God already knows what will harm us and what will help us. He is aware of what will bring us joy and what will lead to sadness. He already knows the answers to all the important questions that His family here on Earth will ask.
His instructions are not something God gave us to suppress us or make life less enjoyable. He didn't give us guidelines because He is a punishing God but because He is a loving one. He gave us instructions to help us handle our free will. He wanted us to be able to explore and enjoy life without fear of the unknown.
Getting to know the Giver of the gifts helped me to more fully grasp the intent with which the gifts were given. Getting to know the Giver of the gifts also helped me better understand the instructions and guidelines. Everything God does for us is done out of love. When I think about the gifts He has given me, I can come to no other conclusion.
How have you been able to use one of your God given gifts to help others or how has someone used their God given gift to help you?
I want to help uplift, inspire and empower others and to help leave the world a little better than I found it. I am an author, deep thinker & optimist. I know God is love. I am the author of "Candidreams: I Remember the Beginning" and "Role Reversal: Turn Pain Into Power".
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Featuring original artwork by Ran H.