I don’t threaten God often. I know that’s surprising to you given how muscular I’ve been getting lately with all the working out and my increased acai berry consumption. (It really is a miracle berry and made me taller and balanced my checkbook while I slept.)
But despite the fast and slow twitch muscle increases I’ve been making lately, I don’t make it a habit to tell God what he should do. I very rarely scribble down a plan, throw it in a prayer and threaten him if it doesn’t come true. Buy shoes for mama cause she’s about to meet Jesus? I do that ALL DAY. Threaten God? Not so much.
Recently though, I caught myself doing that and it all came to a head at our neighborhood pool.
We moved into a new neighborhood in April and it’s like Norman Rockwell and Mayberry had a baby. (I don’t know how that would work, but looking at this neighborhood it must have.) The first thing my wife said to me when she found the house we now live in was, “Hey, this neighborhood has their own Frisbie Golf Course, with baskets.” Then she said a bunch of other stuff about the house. Bedrooms, bathrooms etc. Didn’t matter. I looked at her and said, “You had me at Frisbie Golf. You had me at Frisbie Golf.”
And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Our house backs up to a common area that’s about the size of five football fields. Neighborhood kids gather outside and chase fireflies and memories together long into the lazy part of the day where dusk meets dark. Our kids can walk to school. During Christmas there’s a house decorating contest. People are so in love with the neighborhood that we’ve met six couples who are on their second house. They lived in one house in the neighborhood and then moved to another. A few weeks ago we met someone who was on their fourth house. Clearly I don’t like to exaggerate, I just don’t cotton to that, but this place is like some sort of Belinda Carlisle heaven on earth.
Secretly inside, a thought has been brewing, but I didn’t know how to say it until I heard someone else voice the same thing. I was at the neighborhood pool, which is of course awesome, and I met one of my neighbors. We shook hands, made small talk and then he asked me what I thought about living there. I told him essentially the previous paragraph of this post and he said,
“I know. This place is great. God is going to have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming.”
I get that! I’ve been thinking that too. And it made me realize a few things:
1. The god in my head is a jerk.
The first thing I think he’s going to do when I bump into something good is take it all away in some horrific call to somewhere else.
2. The god in my head calls me to things I’d hate.
He’s not a god that lines up the unique way he created me with a unique calling. In fact he does just the opposite. He finds something I love and then acts me to do something I’d hate. He knows I love writing and hate math so soon he’s going to make me teach Calculus.
3. The god in my head doesn’t give good things, he removes them.
When I find myself in the middle of something good, my instinct is to wrap my arms around it and protect it from the god in my head, not thank him for it.
How did I get there?
How did I get so far away from who I feel like God tries to reveal himself as over and over in the Bible?
As I’ve said before, when God has a single moment to reveal himself to Moses in Exodus 33, what does he show him? Does he show him his might or his power or his anger? When he essentially says, “When you see me, this is what I want you to see,” what does he show Moses? His goodness.
“I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence.”
He reveals his goodness. God isn’t a jerk. God is good.
And throughout the Bible, God doesn’t call people to things they’re not created for. He calls them to situations that awaken deep seated purpose and desires in people that God himself placed there before they were even born. Paul, the loud, bold, road tripping persecutor of Christians, is not called by God on the road to Damascus to become a quiet, shy, homebody theologian. He becomes a loud, bold, road tripping megaphone of hope.
God doesn’t call us to things we’re not designed to do.
Throughout the Bible, we also see a picture of God as someone who delights in giving. One of my favorite examples is Luke 11:11-13. Jesus says:
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
I love these verses because they’re just blunt enough to break through my callused heart. Jesus uses such crazy examples! He doesn’t say, “Which of you fathers if your son asks for an egg, will give him a piece of bread?” He says, “If he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?”
I think he uses two such wildly different things, an egg and a scorpion, because he knows we’ll be tempted to create a jerk god in our head. A god who would give us the worst thing possible. A god who’d give a scorpion instead of an egg.
I don’t know what the god in your head looks like.
But, I bet he’s a jerk. I bet he wants you to be miserable. I bet he’s got a suitcase full of scorpions with your name on it.
That’s not God though. God loves goodness. God loves mercy, not sacrifice. God loves gift giving. God loves the sick. God loves the mess-ups.
And though it may feel hard to believe if you’ve spent years with a different god in your head, God loves you.