For most of my life I have held a view of God as mean, distant, judging and condemning, harsh, cruel and hateful. It is the reason I hated Christianity so much. It was the reason I spent a season as an atheist, and it’s the reason I turned to witchcraft. The way we view God is a filter for how we view everything. If we see God as cruel, then we begin to see the world as a terrible place. If we see God as distant, then we begin to suffer in our relationships with others. If we see God as hateful, then we see ourselves as worthless. Everything we believe about God directly connects to what we believe about who we are, and how we behave.
There was a time when I knew God as a child. I had an intimate relationship with Him. I knew His goodness personally. But through many trials and tribulations, that was stolen from me by the hands of the Father of Lies. Thankfully God never abandons us, no matter how far we turn from Him. He never stops loving us and relentlessly pursuing us. God stood by me for years as I cursed His name and hated Him with every fiber of my soul. Yet my spirit knew. My spirit was connected to the Spirit of the Living God, and it always held hope for the return of that relationship I once had.
When I finally came into a place where I was ready to hear the true Gospel message and learn that God indeed did love me, not hate me, I had to start over again with my relationship with God. Or so I thought. I had no memory of every knowing Him, and so to me it felt as though it was a relationship just starting. That is until I saw my husband and son praying for a sign that God was real and getting answers, and I prayed for a sign and God clearly told me I did not need one. I was reminded of all the times I had been walking alone and yet knew there was someone watching me and protecting me. It was not gods and goddesses from my witchcraft beliefs, but it was God the Father Himself, with me every step of the way.
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
The more I read the Bible and learned about God, the more I was in awe of Him. He was indeed the Creator of the universe and everything in it. He was a worker of miracles, a healer, and full of goodness. Yet I couldn’t shake the longing to please Him. I was sure that things that were going wrong were because I didn’t pray first and ask God. Everything became centered on doing what God wanted, being in God’s will, and pleasing Him. I started living my life centered around those thoughts and ideas of what would make God happy and how I could do right in His eyes. This is a very common belief for many Christians.
What I did not realize was I was really still operating out of beliefs that God is distant, harsh and condemning. Yes I loved God with all of my heart, but I was not only acting out of love, but out of fear. I was very full of fear, but treating fear as though it was obedience. There is no fear in love, so to obey out of fear is not in alignment with the heart of God. God is not worried about our obedience, He is worried about our relationship with Him, and our hearts.
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
1 John 4:18
Everything we do flows out of our hearts. If our hearts believe that we need to obey because if we don’t it will make God mad or unhappy with us, then we are not seeing God for who He is. That makes God angry, not loving. That makes God’s love conditional, and based on our works and deeds. Yet the Bible makes it clear that we are not saved by our works, but saved out of the pure love and goodness of God. Why would God come in person to earth and live a human life and then die a convicted criminal, even though He was innocent, if He was going to turn around and continue to judge us and keep us at arm’s length?
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
What kind of love is that? That is human love, not the agape love that God is. There are not boundaries, no conditions with God’s love. God says, “you are mine, therefore I love you.” It is human love that keeps people at arm’s length, for fear of getting hurt. It is human love that says, you hurt me or disappointed me, now I must punish you.” We don’t know God, so we just start to fashion Him into the makings of what we already know. And what we know has been so tainted by the world, that we cannot possibly fathom the truth of who God is.
It is so easy to read the Bible and get it completely misconstrued. God is punishing and cruel, but Jesus is loving and kind. No. The Bible is a whole story, not two separate stories. The Bible is not just any story, it’s a love story. A story of the lengths that God was willing to go through to show us just how deeply He loves us. Yes, in the Old Testament God had to show us what sin is and how dangerous it is. He had to make examples of some people. Not because they were bad or He didn’t love them, but as a way to show us that sin leads to death, not to life.
We cling to sin as though it is our life boat and rescuer. We don’t even know any better. We walk through this world as though we are on a life boat all by ourselves, and we just keep trying to survive day by day. Yet God shows us with the Bible that as long as we keep doing that, we are going to suffer. So He came down personally from His throne in heaven and became a man, nothing special to anyone on this earth, just to show us that we were the most important thing to Him. Period. There is nothing more important to a Father than His children. Nothing.
“On the day when I act,” says the LORD Almighty, “they will be my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as a father has compassion and spares his son who serves him.
It was not until I began doing inner healing that I began to know God in ways that I didn’t even know were possible. He began to slowly strip away everything I every believed about God. He began to show me that what I did believe was just based on my experiences with pain and rejection, and not based on my relationship with Him. It wasn’t until I began to heal the dark places inside of me, and allow Him in to bring His truth and light, that I was even able to hear anything God had to say about who He is. Everything was absolutely tainted by a filter of pain and trauma.
I am no exception. Pain and trauma are par for the course for every human that ever exists. This world is filled with trials and tribulations, and no one is exempt from them. Even Jesus Himself had to walk through extreme pain and rejection. He knows what pain is, and has walked with each of us through it. Yet because we continue to try to float this life boat out here all alone, we cannot allow God in to bring His truth. We are so busy with surviving we don’t even realize we are doing it.
Recently I have grown to new levels of intimacy and understand of God, I really starting a conversation with Him about what to call Him. God is such an impersonal name. It can be used for so many things. God is not a thing, He is a being, and a spirit, just as we are. He is our Father, and He is so full of love and compassion for us. We are just so stuck in our own pain and belief systems that we can’t even see that we are loved. We are too full of self contempt and fear to realize that the truth is that God loves us beyond comprehension. He sees us as valuable and worthy. He sees us as absolutely beautiful and precious.
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life.
I wasn’t sure what else I could call God, yet I wasn’t exactly ready to call Him Father either. Father was such a foreign concept to me, especially being that I never had a close relationship with my own father. Dad or Daddy sounded even harder to come to grips with, because that is very intimate and really I felt vulnerable just thinking about it. How could I see myself as a little girl and God as a big strong Daddy? I have never even known that. I love my dad, but just like me, he is doing the best he can as a broken soul torn down by this world.
It has taken time and healing, but now I can easily call God Father. As a matter of fact, I refer to Him as Father more often than God. I have started to not see Him as “God” so much, which is so impersonal and distant really, and more as a father. As a father, He created me, He has protected me, provided for me, guided me, nurtured me, taught me, loved me. Those are all things fathers are designed to do. Fatherhood was invented by the first Father ever, our God. When other people call Him God, I think in my head, Father. It is beginning to get harder and harder to relegate Him to just God.
I am in no way taking away from the fact that God is God. He is, but are we really just keeping Him at arms length by calling Him God? It is so much safer to keep the Father at a distance, so we don’t get hurt. If we keep our relationship at just being obedient and doing right, we don’t have to do the work to get to know Him. And if we don’t have to do the work to have the intimacy, then we will never have to do the work on ourselves; healing those dark places that remain hidden within us.
I was very afraid to go to the dark places within me. I was ashamed and sure that God would hate me or be angry at me. Yet God knew of those places the entire time. He knew why they were there, and how deeply they were skewing the entire core of who He created me to be. He never looked down on me, no matter how bad things looked to me. He never was mad, not even for a second. Jesus Christ came in the flesh to become sin; our sin, so we no longer have to. If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then you no longer have to stay afloat in the life boat all alone. If you take a chance to look up, you will see your loving Father has been with you all along.
“The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”