Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Correcting a distorted picture of God


I once worked with a productivity genius. Maybe you know the type. She could cut through any kind of barrier and get things done. Boy, did I admire her.

She had this sign hanging above her desk:


"Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."

She always remained calm and unruffled. She would help her co-workers, but she did in a way that fit into her schedule. In other words, she never allowed anyone else's needs to interrupt the flow of her work.

I kind of wanted to be like her.

But I was also kind of scared of her.

Do you know what I mean?

I didn't realize how much that admiration/fear I felt for my colleague had seeped into my soul. As I was facing a looming deadline and feeling overwhelmed by all the demands on my time, I asked a friend to pray for me.

Wisely, that friend did some probing before praying, helping me get to the root of what I needed from God.

Out of the blue, my co-worker's motto popped into my head, and I realized that I was imagining that God had the same attitude.

Lodged deep in my heart lay the idea of an impatient God—a God who would help me, sure, but who was slightly irritated that I needed to ask for help. Somehow I felt that God, in all His glory and perfection, felt impatience with me for my lack of planning.

This God tolerated me, but I grated on His nerves.

I could ask for help, but His assistance would be delivered grudgingly.

Can you imagine God sitting in His office, drumming His fingers on His desktop, raising His eyebrows in exasperation? My friend's gentle questions revealed that this was my picture. This was the God of my imagination.

My mental image was not an accurate picture of the God we meet in scripture. It's not a true picture of the God who listens and answers the prayers of his children, who delights in us.

Only a distorted image would picture God as perfect in power but not perfect in love. 

Does God love me because of my goodness? No, He loves me because of His goodness. The apostle John said it like this:

"This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us." (I John 4:10, NIV)

God's love doesn't depend on my love. Nor does it hinge on how lovable I am.

My strength doesn't strengthen God's love; my weakness doesn't weaken God's love.

So strong is God's love that His spirit inspired these words:

"I am sure that neither death nor life, no angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, 
nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us 
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39, ESV)

"Nor anything else in all creation": not even my incompetence. Not even my lack of planning. Not even my failure.

Do you see how much I needed my friend's prayers? My distorted image of God didn't affect God one bit, but it did affect me.

My picture of God didn't just need a little editing, a bit of cropping and an adjustment of the white balance. No, I needed see a completely different picture.

I needed to take God out from behind that desk with the sign over it.

I needed to see that He doesn't greet me with a frown of annoyance at being interrupted.

I needed to see that His fingers are not drumming on the desktop.

That's all a false picture.

The real picture is one of God's face alight with kindness, His arms stretching out in welcome, His hands reaching out to help and comfort.

"God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all." (I John 1:5, KJV)

Thank God for friends who pray.

Thank God for new pictures.

Thank God for His unfailing love.

Do you ever struggle with a distorted image of God? Can we encourage one another together?



4 comments:

Kathy Olson said...

I have that same struggle oftentimes. It's good to know I'm not alone and good to be reminded again that this isn't how God is at all.

Patricia Krank said...

It's interesting how the God I was taught about growing up still pops into my imagination from time to time, and causes me to feel disappointed in myself. He loves me because He created me, and He loves me just as I am. Really knowing this makes it so much easier to serve Him well. Thanks for this post friend :)
Patti

Carol Stebner said...

This is a wonderful post, Richella. Prayer is so powerful....praying alone or with others.

Warm hugs,
Carol

Michele Morin said...

Oh, how I need to be reminded that God is "gracious, merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness." Thank you, Richella!

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