Mid-afternoon, focused on a project at work, I receive a call. On the other line are tears. “Mom, I had an accident.”
The fears, the adrenaline that rush through the body in a single second after hearing those words is as much as one may experience in a lifetime. After getting through the rush, and receiving consolation that your child is not hurt, other reactions propagate. These responses can be either negative or positive. The choices of emotions are extensive. Calm or frantic. Condemning or consoling. Anger or love.
How will I respond?
How would God respond?
At the start of my spiritual journey, I struggled with seeing God as a loving God that did not judge me or condemn me when I sinned or failed to follow His will in my life. I saw God as a tyrant, a task master.
Not too long ago, I visited my family. What started out as a nice visit with some boiled crawfish, ended with my dad fuming in anger. I’m still not quite certain about what truly fueled the anger. But what he did was paint an image of God that was judgmental and condemning. Later in the week when I spent some time reflecting on my dad’s response to my sister and me, I realized that as a child he depicted a God who was disappointed when I made a mistake, a God I couldn’t please, and who didn’t love me unless I was 100% obedient with no faults.
Because my view of God had morphed into this image, I learned a response towards others that was similar, which has had some lasting impacts. Not my proudest moments.
Through grace and my continued desire to grow in faith, the landscape God has revealed to me of who He is contrasts greatly from the tyrant, judgmental, task master Father.
I’m certain that change in perspective helped me to respond to my daughter in a calm, consoling, loving manner after receiving the call about her accident and confirming she was ok. It also catalyzed the loving response to my dad’s anger as I quietly walked away without responding in condemnation, anger or judgement. I don’t say that to sketch a picture that I always have a perfect response. I am a work in progress, just like each of us are. I want to share it because I know it has impacted the shape of my heart in relationships that are important. I want to continue to pour more love and mercy and less judgement and anger to bottom out the balance beam in my life.
Who is the real God that can companion with me to help me make those changes? The real God to companion with you, especially if you have a similar perspective of God?
He is a God that invites us into His arms when we fall into sin through reconciliation. He is a God that picks us up and guides us when we fall off a cliff or detour from His will. He is a God who sacrifices all for love of each of us. He is a God that meets us exactly where we are in our journey, not pushing us but waiting for us on the side line, cheering us to the finish line. This is a God of love not a tyrant. This is a God of mercy not condemnation.
I invite each of you to pick one person this week, who you can extend mercy and love to. Perhaps choose a person you have recently been at odds with. Let’s make a goal to spread the real image of God one by one, day by day, minute by minute. Will the real God stand up?
Heavenly Father, I ask today for your presence within me. I pray that the image of who you truly are, is reflected in my heart towards all I encounter. May that image be the image others see when they look in my eyes. Cover me in humility to respond in love even when I am being treated unfairly. Lord thank you for meeting me in each moment with love and mercy. Amen