My Personal Encounter with God
Is God like my Dad?
It has been said that a person's opinions and views about God are closely associated with their relationship to and experience with their earthly father, I believe that is true.
If you were raised in a home where your Dad had a relationship with God, you most certainly were blessed to see God's attributes being lived out in your fathers life..... But for those of us raised by earthly fathers who had no use or time for God (I only heard his name used in a series of cuss words) the ability to see God and his true attributes is most likely really warped.
My father was not a man to be admired or trusted. He achieved great success in his profession, but at home he wreaked havoc! My father was an alcoholic and a rageaholic.
Come and take a look with me, through my little girl eyes, and try to picture this grown man I called ... Father. When my father's anger was sparked - look out! Do you know what it feels like to have a raging lunatic looming over you with a deep red face contorted in uncontrolled fury? As he gets in your face his tongue spews all sorts of embarrassing, humiliating and evil utterances... that was the man I knew as father.
When I was cornered I would feel myself go weak all over and all I could think was - how can I survive this?
The relationship between my mom and dad was hostile and ugly. Angry words and tempers flared as I tried to go to sleep each night. I felt lost and alone. I was terrified of tripping his trigger and I was afraid of him ... actually for years I hated him.
Can you understand why I never felt secure or loved by him? Can you grasp the concept of the fear and torment he planted in my heart? To this day if someone surprises me or yells I jump out of my skin and my heart races uncontrollably.
As I grew into my early teen years I began to think that life was a real bummer. I sure did not want to grow up to be like my mom and dad ..... But deep inside I had this 'knowing' that there was something more ...more than what my parents had.
I mean this complex universe and it's people could not have just happened - could it?
Is God Real?
If God exists there MUST be a Way I can Know Him
No one ever talked to me about God and I never went to Church, except on occasions when a friend or neighbor took me.
At age 15 there was a day, and I can remember this as clearly as if it were yesterday, I was downstairs folding clothes and pondering God's existence. I was thinking that if there really was a God there had to be a way I could know for sure. I wanted to know if He existed and if He could bring some kind of sense to this life.
Suddenly I felt desperate to know him. I put the clothes down and laid face down on the floor. Crying out I prayed, "God, if you are real, I just can't believe you would have created me and then plopped me down here on this earth-place to fend for myself..... My heart longs to know you but I don't know how to find you.... Will you please reveal yourself to me?"
God So Loved Me
About a year later God chose to use a very special man to reveal God to me. One night my girlfriend Debbie asked me over to their home. Debbie knew I had been struggling and was discouraged. She had to work hard to get me to spend the night with her and because she was persistent, I finally caved. That night after her Dad put the kids to bed he turned to me and said he had something very important to tell me. He opened God's word and spoke words of life to me.
Dad Haworth told me that there really was a Creator God in Heaven who spoke the Heavens and the Earth into existence. In fact He was the creator of the whole universe ... I knew it ... He continued to say that God uniquely created me and that He loved me and had a purpose for my life (tears welled in my eyes and the deepest longings to know God squeezed at my heart). Dad Haworth explained that the Lord God is a Holy God who cannot tolerate sin in His heaven ... Oh, I knew all about the ugliness of sin - though I didn't call it sin. He then showed me, using God's very words, that because God so loved me, He gave His only son to die for my sins (in my place) so that I could live eternally with Him.
I John 1:9 "If we confess our sins HE is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from ALL unrighteousness". Ps. 103:12 "He has removed our sins as far from us as the EAST is from the WEST." So when does the East ever catch up with the West?... Never ... it's impossible ... That is how far God has romoved our sins... we must not allow ourself to wallow in regret - it is gone and we can move on.
Dad H. told me that if I would confess my sins that God would forgive me and cleanse me from all my unrighteousness and welcome me into His family. He talked about eternal life and of a new Heaven and a new Earth. Man, I was covered in goosebumps and my heart leapt for joy!
That night I eagerly accepted the free gift of forgiveness that Jesus death provided for me. I asked God to forgive me for my sins and I thanked Him for sending Jesus to take my place on the cross. I invited Him to be the Lord of my life. I felt an immediate lifting of my Spirit and I experienced what scripture describes as .... Old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.
My Soul Came to REST
My whole world and direction in life changed. I once felt like a lost child but after giving my life to God and accepting forgiveness through Jesus .. I no longer felt lost ... I belonged! ..not just belonged but adopted into God's family - God calls me daughter.
My prayer the year before was answered, my soul came to rest and I was fully at peace. I finally knew that the creator God loved me, pursued me and had a plan for my life here on Earth.
You Come to My Rescue
A Different Kind of Dad
As I spent time in God's word I began to read about my Heavenly Father. He is so opposite of my earthly Dad. In God's word, the Psalmist gives us a snapshot picture of Father God, the one who loves you and me beyond our wildest dreams, hopes and expectations.
"The LORD is merciful and gracious; slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:8-14)
Confusing Earthly Dad with Father God
Even today I struggle with the natural inclination to draw away from God when life gets hard or painful. Why would I do this? I have honestly just come to grips with this myself. My distrust in my earthly Father is getting transferred emotionally to a drawing away, in distrust, from God. It is a subconscious thing that goes on with me. I know what I must do. I need to retrain my brain by allowing God's word to be the final authority about who God is and how He relates to me. I must replace those ideas and images of dad with the truths of who my Father God is.
On a conscious level I would never say I don't trust God. But my pulling away proves me wrong. The old feelings of abandonment and distrust try to take precedence over what I know to be true about God. I need to make a conscious choice to trust God and let Him guide me through the hard times. He is 'in the midst' of every situation I encounter and He will never leave me or forsake me.
A Pilgrim Journey
A Friend that Sticks Closer than a Brother
It is a journey; a pilgrims journey...My life on earth is preparation for my home in Heaven. I long for it and know that this time on Earth, though the days are filled with trials and tribulations, is temporary. I also know that the God of Heaven loves me unconditionally and passionately. I don't ever have to feel alone again. "He is a friend that sticks closer than a brother."
"How Great is the Father's love that we should be called the children of God" I John 3:1
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