God is nothing like I imagined him to be. He’s way cooler.
I imagined a never ending struggle to be good enough- to work really hard and earn enough grace points to make God happy. If successful, I was hoping I could count on Him to do me special favors. If I failed, I imagined he might scowl down at me in disapproval; shaking his head and withholding affection until I cleaned up my act.
I confused God and people as having the same annoying tendencies to judge, criticize and disappoint.
Where I’ve found the most surprise is in how deeply God loves me: unconditionally, without fail or qualification. This has been hard for me to accept. That even “as is” the Creator of the Universe wants to spend time with me...that nothing I’ve done to try and convince Him otherwise, can change His plan for our eternal relationship. He's really kind of stubborn about it, if you want to know the truth.
His imagination and creativity aren’t hindered by my weakness. I simply don’t have that much power. Instead, He’s teaching me that His Strength is made perfect- perfect!- in my weakness. Probably because when I finally admit I can't run my world on my own, I ask for help and give him room to work.
He’s teaching me that He loves the broken-hearted, really messed up folks, like me.
He sought them out, in fact, during his short stay on earth. He seemed to love spending time with all manner of unsavory characters- prostitutes, tax collectors, common and disreputable types. Even his hand-picked disciples were a dense, rowdy bunch. He chose a murderer of Christians to become the most influential advocate of His power to forgive and transform.
It was the religious types he disliked- the hypocrites and posers that really pissed him off. It is the sick who need healing, he said, and that he came to the world NOT to condemn, but to save.
Seems pretty straight forward, right? Then how is it that I confused God as condemning, distant, harsh, unreasonable and irrelevant in modern times? My theories are still developing, but suffice it to say in this little note that I believe there’s a force in the universe that doesn’t want us to know the truth, and that humans have consistently had trouble relating and communicating with and about God.
How do we overcome this? Simply by believing the outrageous claim that God is all good, all the time- and that He loves each one of us so much, that he figured out how to reconnect with us and sent his only Son to save the world, that whoever would believe in Him (even just a little) would have abundant and everlasting life.
His name is Jesus. His claim is too simple, and sounds too good to be true- just believe that I exist- ask me to be a part of your life and I will. I’ll make all things right if you just let me, just surrender- let me be God, and you be you. But only if you invite me, only if you really want me to.
I’m not saying I have all the answers, and this is just a bit of what I’ve learned so far. And if I come off as a self-righteous know it all, or otherwise screw up the purity of the message, I’m reminded of the wisdom of Steve Harvey regarding such matters: “Don’t trip, He isn’t through with me yet.”