I thought I knew God.
I was a Christian, so I was alive. But I was so wounded and traumatized that I was in a spiritual coma. I could not see or hear or serve in the power of the Spirit.
The thing is?… I was just like the other Christians around me. No one else seemed to be any healthier than I was. We all thought we were “normal Christians.”
Deep inside, I knew something was “missing,” but I had no idea what it was. I was trying to follow God. In terms of service, I was exemplary. So why couldn’t I get it together?
I’m not sure how it happened, how I stumbled across the passage that has worked through my life for the past several years. It was God, plain and simple…how He threw me this life line and pulled me in with it.
It’s part of Jeremiah’s story. Jeremiah, the prophet. The exemplary God-follower. The one who was supposed to have “it” all together. The one who ate the words of God.
“Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” Jeremiah 15:18
Well that’s a good question because I can relate. I want to know why too. And if Jeremiah could ask it, I could too.
And blessed Redeemer, He answers!
“Therefore, thus says the Lord, “If you return, then I will restore you…” Jeremiah 15:19a
For months I study this. I want to KNOW this answer. I want to get it and take it and apply it and finally come out of this coma. I want to SEE again. I want to understand how eyesight is restored.
And Blessed Redeemer, He helps. He tells me that if I really want to “return,” here is where: “If you will return, O Israel,” declares the Lord, “Then you should return to Me.” Jer 4:1
Return to Him.
“Cursed is he whose heart turns away from the Lord. For he will be like a bush in the desert…” Jer 17:5-6
I didn’t even know I had turned away. But when wanting to get to the root, the bottom line~ forget all the symptoms, lets get to the core~ that is what it all comes down to.We turn away from God as He is and our understanding of Him is distorted and damaged and clouded by life and we don’t even realize it. It is possible to think we know, love, and serve God when in fact we need to “return.”
Okay, so HOW?
“And if you extract the precious from the worthless, you will become My mouth.” (vs. 19b)
Our understanding of God is a combination of precious and worthless.
And we’ve got to start sorting.
To return to God and find eyes restored, I’ve got to extract the precious truths about Him from the pile of worthless!
Worthless views of God tend to accumulate naturally in our lives.
In Luke 9:18, Jesus is praying to God and experiencing communion with the Father. He is having an intimate time with God when His disciples show up and interrupt Him. Still in deep thought over what He has been discussing with His Father, He turns and asks His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?”
What we believe about Christ is paramount.
Many various thoughts and ideas are expressed. Even in the church today, there are many. They sound good. They are positive and happy and powerful sounding. But they can still be worthless.
“But who do YOU say that I am?” He asks them.
When Peter responded with a correct view of Christ, Jesus responded enthusiastically, as if His soul rejoiced in a hard battle won. “BLESSED ARE YOU, PETER!”
“You got it!”
Then He says something very insightful. “People sure didn’t reveal this to you, but God has revealed it to you.” (Matt 16:17)
Where we get our beliefs about God is even more important.
Because that determines whether we are dead wrong or spot on.
The implication Jesus made here smacked me between the eyes. All of life had sent me messages about who God is.
And they were dead wrong.
We cannot rely on life, people, our past, circumstances, and our feelings to tell us who God is. We must let God reveal to us who He is.
That means we let Him take us through our pile of beliefs, assumptions, thoughts, and feelings about Him and let Him show us which ones are “precious” and which ones are “worthless.”
One of the most amazing things God has done in my life is the privilege of adoption.
We picked up our Chinese daughter on Mother’s Day, 2 days before her 1st birthday. I had high hopes and expectations for this precious life God had intersected our lives with. It became evident very quickly, however, that our daughter’s understanding of life, herself, us ~even food~ were all shaped by her experiences with others and events in her past.
I began fighting one of the most difficult battles of my life- parenting a wounded child through the false messages of her past. We still fight a daily battle to overcome the negative and false messages in her heart and mind.
Unfortunately, it isn’t just my daughter who has lived in a fallen world. We all do. We all have understandings and assumptions about God that are tainted and distorted by sin and its effects. If we are going to return to God and know Him as He really is, we must give Him access to our accumulated views and start sifting. Because you know what?
Knowing God cures incurable wounds.
And I’m out to live a life that proves it.
Forming the Habit of “Know” This Week:
Every Monday for the next several months, I am sharing from my journey and (trying!) to articulate the spiritual habits that God has been weaving into my life.
This month, we are developing the habit of “know.” We are taking baby steps, walking this path one leg at a time. We are doing some hard work this month, digging trenches, making space for Truth, so that next month and the ones following, He can come fill them with Himself. This week, let’s “know” where to start sorting. Where do those worthless views come from?
Turn to Psalm 45:10-11.
According to this passage, we have to “forget” impressions about God imparted to us from two sources. What are those two sources?
Our culture (even if it is Christian) and our family cannot be the main sources for our understanding of God. As you consider this passage, answer these questions:
1) Think about your childhood and upbringing. What are the major messages about God that you came away with? (Note: while many of the messages may be ones that were verbalized, the majority of them are the ones that were not. These are the un-conscious and un-spoken assumptions that we make about God based on our environment.)
2) List the 5 most influential people in your life to date. What message about God has each of them given you?
Can you identify any messages/beliefs that you know are contrary to what the Scripture teaches? Prayerfully ask God to expose the worthless for what it is. Be willing to let Him gently pry it from your fingers…