The moments when I think Abba has rattled my cage are always unforeseen and usually have nothing to do with the train of thought which I felt was most important at that point in time when the rattling took place. This morning was one of those times.
I had just crawled back into bed to begin my morning devotions, prayers and e-mail checks, as is my morning habit after retrieving my first cup of java of the day from the kitchen. And unexpected as usual, mid second sip of coffee and before I could even get my devotional opened to July 23, or the covers re-arranged, He was interjecting Himself into my thoughts. This morning the thought was important enough to me that I stopped what I was doing and grabbed my “Nothing NoteBook.” This is what I wrote.
“I had a thought this morning … I know how I felt when my children rejected me, because I didn’t turn out to be what they wanted in a “father.” How does God feel when we reject him because He doesn’t turn out to be what we wanted in a God, because we don’t take the time to get to know Him; really get to know him?”
It’s a thought worth some contemplation. When I received the 2 e-mailed rejections from my daughter and oldest son earlier this year I was first angry and then that graduated to angrier. Both feelings then settled into a batch of hurt-chip angry cookies. My conservative Christian upbringing taught that I wasn’t supposed to feel that way. I was supposed to be magnanimous and instantly forgiving and forgetting of the injury because, after all, Jesus would be wouldn’t He? Really? What Would Jesus Do? Before we even get to the whip in the temple episode maybe a review of a couple of earlier incidents is in order.
We get a few ideas in just the first few chapters of Genesis. Adam and Eve, His first born children, disobeyed the one simple directive about the tree in the middle of the garden and they were evicted without ceremony and subsequently punished in ways that persist to this day. A few chapters later in Genesis 6:6-8 “And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”
God was “grieved in His heart?” That’s what it says in the NKJV. God was hurt and He lashed out … big time. Later, after He’s started over with Noah and Sons, He promises to never, ever do it again.
In Exodus 32:9 in response to the Israelites worshiping a golden calf God was ticked; so ticked in fact that he told Moses to get out of the way so He could do away with them and start over with Moses. But Moses pleaded with God to stay His hand, pointing out how it would look to the rest of mankind if it looked like God had led his “special possession” to the wilderness and then killed them all just because they misbehaved. And so it went; generation after generation after generation; God’s “chosen” people continued to “choose” not to like Him because He wasn’t what they thought He should be. And so it went for more than 1100 years until God just shut up and left the Hebrews to their own devices for more than 400 years.
When Jesus was nearing the end of His ministry, even He expressed frustration with those closest to Him at times, and certainly when He cleared the temple of the sacrilege He found there, with the whip He made while He thought it over. So, I return to the original thought above.
“How does God feel when we reject him because He didn’t turn out to be what we wanted in a God, because we don’t take the time to get to know Him; really get to know him?”
How do we fragile, delicate works of Abba’s art, feel when those we love, especially our children, reject us because we aren’t what they think we should be, so they can relate to us better? Are we hurt? Of course! Are we angry? Sure! Do we react in anger? You bet! Is this part of being made in God’s own image?
Do we have the same reactions when our children don’t turn out the way we thought they should, or according to the plans we had for them? Asked and answered already isn’t it? So why do we think that Abba should feel any different toward us than we do about our own creations? The answer to that could be that even though we are made in His image, we aren’t perfect parents; God is. The key for me is that forgiveness is not the same thing as acceptance, and acceptance of the person is not the same as acceptance of their behavior. And furthermore, I must follow Abba’s example as closely as I humanly can.
I forgive completely and like the father in the story of the prodigal son, I let them go their own way. It’s okay for me to be unhappy with their rejection, and also like the father of the prodigal son I will be overjoyed if they ever come home and ask to be forgiven, but also like that father, I will not chase after them and ask their forgiveness anymore than Abba will chase after me for the purpose of asking my forgiveness.
It’s up to me to seriously think about how Abba feels when I think I know how He should react to my many mis-directions of act and thought. How in the world does an imperfect human being begin to understand how a perfect Heavenly Father feels when we try to define the way we think He should be?
Billy Graham’s former close friend and associate pastor in their youth, Charles Templeton is a perfect example of the result of that kind of thinking. He abandoned his calling and faith because of a picture in Life magazine. It was a picture of a grief stricken black woman in Northern Africa holding a child who had died of starvation. Templeton decided that if God existed that would never have happened; that the horrors of civilization would be non-existent.
So therefore Templeton concluded … that since God didn’t work the way Charles Templeton thought He should that God doesn’t exist. In other words, for all his knowledge of the verses in the bible Templeton never understood that he didn’t understand that a genuine faith in God required what Jesus said about the children: “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you, anyone who doesn’t have their kind of faith (I read the context of faith here as “trust”) will never get into the kingdom of God.”
How do you think God feels when we reject Him, because we never took the time to really get to know Him and worship (accept) Him as He is?