This is probly self-evident - but it came as a BIG revelation to me:
My relationship with God is not as strong and healthy as it should be because I have such a warped sense of who I am and such a distorted view of who He is. It is like 2 strangers trying to get to know one another while both wearing masks and hiding behind two false façades. I know that the mask and the façade are not of God’s choosing – but something I have imposed upon him based upon my own messed-up past. The loss of my real father. The abusive step-dad. The treatment of other abusers. The mistreatment and manipulation of other authority figures in various churches, a cult I was in for 7 years, and bosses who took advantage of my passivity and willingness to please.
In fact, it is a wonder that I have any relationship with God at all. In a way, it is like, I KNOW the truth – but it is a mental assent rather than an experiential knowledge – not much emotion or sense of connection or reality or life-affecting presence of God – more a distant, objective set of doctrines. I think my longing for intimacy – along with the fear of it – keeps me locked into a state of static, neutral, status quo – rather than allowing me to grow and enjoy a living, dynamic, relationship with Him. And it is also that longing for intimacy that I sometimes seek to satisfy in ways that I know are wrong and insufficient and inevitably doomed to disappoint – and even make me feel worse in the long run.
But recently I grasped 2 nuggets of Truth that have started to penetrate my self-protective and self-deceptive shell.
The first was from a book I am reading called “The Furious Longing of God” by Brennan Manning. He says that in John 17:23 when Jesus prays for us – “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” - the phrase “even as you have loved me” means not just a similar kind of love – but the identical strength and exact SAME quality and degree of love. That blew me away.
And then the 2nd came the next day in church, as the pastor referred to Matt 3:17, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” – and he said that because we are in Christ, God sees Jesus when he looks at us – His righteousness, not our sin, and He says the same thing to us as He said of Jesus – perfect acceptance and perfect love. I am awestruck and desperately trying to appropriate this. This is the father-son relationship I have been “furious(ly) longing” for all my life – to borrow the title of the book. The perfect love and acceptance and intimacy that has always been so far away as to seem impossible to reach. I think it is starting to make sense – and to come closer.
We are often troubled, but not crushed;
sometimes in doubt, but never in despair;
there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend;
and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.
- Paul, II Cor 4:8-9