I’ve been reflecting on my experiences of God and want to share one with you. I’ve often been puzzled by the talk of sin and God’s wrath. I used to read sermons such as those by Jonathan Edwards and try to fit my belief into the box of an angry God who needed to have his wrath appeased, but I couldn’t ever fit. Here’s a story from my early life that shows why I struggled.
I closed the back door of our home, shutting Hugh out of my life, relieved that I would never see him again. I had been very cold and closed towards him that evening, yet as I closed the door, I heard a voice and felt an impression in my heart. ‘You haven’t loved your brother in Christ.’ That was all. That was it. I heard the words and knew their truth in my heart. I felt no condemnation, but knew the reality was that I hadn’t loved him. No matter what else happened in our lives, Hugh was my brother in Christ and I had been rude to him. I knew that wasn’t the way I was supposed to be living. I wasn’t walking the path Jesus was guiding me along but was veering off on my own direction. I had asked for a life companion, a husband and Hugh had been given to me yet I had rejected the gift. What would happen now? What happens when God gives you a gift and you toss it aside?
My experience of God in that moment was of understanding, tenderness, righteousness and love. God heard the negative churning in my mind, saw the decision I made and didn’t run away from me. My coldness and rudeness were seen, understood and mirrored back to me. God spoke tenderly into my mind and my heart, describing what I had done and what I hadn’t done. I was shown a glimpse of my cruelty yet also showed a different path that I was invited to walk. I’m to love. God didn’t start with me loving the whole world, but loving one person, who was my brother in Christ, one person who has faith and is wanting to walk the path of life with me. God showed me the path of loving, the path of kindness, the path that Jesus walked. It’s a beautiful path, might not always be easy but it is the path of loving.
I didn’t hear any condemnation that day. I experienced understanding, tenderness, righteousness and love. Love for me. Love for Hugh. Understanding for what might have been. Understanding for was going to be because of my choices.
I had listened to the voices of criticism that came from a place of fear, from that place deep inside me where I was taught to fear loving, that place that carts out boulders and builds walls. God saw me in that place, had compassion on me, didn’t run from me or abandon me or shut the door on me, but spoke tenderly, firmly, and wisely into my life. God is good, faithful, kind, compassionate. God knows me, knows each of us and cares.
I’ve never encountered wrath or anger, only God’s tenderness, compassion and invitation.
Perhaps this week you would enjoy journalling one of your experiences of God.
Love and prayers
Mystic in Motion
Companion on the Way with Contemplative Fire
Companion on the Rivendell Way
Society Member of Shalem Institute for Contemplative Living