My new revelation: God terrifies me.
I was listening to this sermon on suffering or something (I don't remember the actual topic-it wasn't that good. It's funny, cause I was thinking of shutting it off because I thought it was just wasting my time, and then the speaker went off on a side point for maybe five minutes and what he said has changed EVERYTHING. God humbling me again, letting me know that I don't know everything and that what I think is a waste of my time is really more important than I'll ever know) and he starts talking about some of the Psalms. In a lot of Pslams, David asks God to crush his enemies for him, to bring him victory over his enemies, ect.
Now, I remember reading some of those Psalms and thinking, "what a horrible thing to pray". This guy was saying the same, that he actually used to councel people not to pray like that. But then he got talking to another pastor who told him a story about how he befreinded an unbeliever and invited him into his home, worked with him for a couple of years, then found out later that the guy had seduced his wife and now she was leaving him for the unbeliever. And after that, he literally wanted to kill the guy. However, the Bibe makes it clear that revenge is the Lord's. So instead, he prayed that God would kill the man for him.
Now, this prayer initially sends warning sounds in my mind, like this is the type of prayer that you shouldnt pray. But at the same time, the point that the pastor was making with this was that the guy was just praying what he felt. By not saying that prayer, do you think that he successfully hid that emotion from God?
And it really got to me. I started to notice how much I seem to edit my own prayers. I'll be silently praying, or even praying out loud, and a little tiny thought will enter my brain that I know the shape of and know exactly what it means, but that I quickly shove away before I can think it into actual words, like by doing so, I can keep God from hearing it. So now every time I find mself doing that, I have to go back, open up that thought fully, bring it to the Lord, and then usually there's a lot of repentence involved with it too.
Let me telll you- being fully and completely and brutally honest with God is hard. Mostly that it makes me realize just how messed up my thoughts and ideas of God are in general. It makes me wonder, how on earth does he put up with it? I mean, I imagine that if I could hear every little negative thought that any one person (muh less the whole world) has have had of me, I would get so fed up with that person and their pettiness so quickly... how does God do it?
Then I listened to an awesome sermon from Chan talking about the first letter written to the church at Ephesis and how they were doing such awesome things, following God's orders to the T... but that they had forgotten to love Him in the process and if they didn't come back to Him, he would wipe them out. And then He did. History shows that about 15 years later, the church at Ephesis was taken out, and to this day there is still yet to be a solid and growing church in that area.
It got me thinking about whether I was following God out of love aymore, or if I was falling right back into the rut of just going through the motions and saying that it's all good. Which I think is where I was at. But how do you even get back a love for God? How do you make yourself fall in love? Especially when it's like it's through one-ended conversations and such? Is it just that I need to spend more time in prayer? More time reading His Word? More effort into appreciating all the little things that He does for me on a regular basis? It's not like there's a set formula for how to fall in love.... so how do I do it?
And speaking of prayer, am I even doing that right? You read passages about Jesus praying and aout how Jesus and Paul says that we should pray... like He's Dad. Hebrews says that we are to call Him "Abba", meaning "Daddy", and that we should always come to Him in our times of distress. Paul says, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." (Philipians 4:6) which I think means that we'e supposed to be repetitive with prayer, and I remember pastors and spiritual mentors talking about repetetive prayer as a good thing. Okay, I admit that I only actually remember Deb from the sketch Bible class saying it, but I'm sure that I've heard it from others too. (Note to self: look up Biblical support for repetitive prayer) But then there are all these other passages saying stuff like, "And when you pray, do not keep babbling on like pagans, for they think that they will be heard because of their many words." (Matthew 6:7) and, "Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in Heaven, and you are on earth, so let your words be few." (Ecclesiastes 5:2). So then I freak out when I start repeating myself in my prayers, like isn't He getting sick of listening to me over and over? But then I run out of things to say, and I don't think that I shoudl run out of things to say when I'm talking to GOD, you know? And I feel like I should be in constant prayer, like I should desire to be in constant communication with Him, but sometimes I really just have nothing more to say, that by forcing myself to say more, it's out of obligation rather than desire, and is that wrong?
And then there are all the stories of the Old Testament, like how God killed the man who saw the Ark of the Covenant about to fall off it's stand and to the ground, reached out to stop it, and was killed on the spot because of his assumption that his hands were cleaner to touch the ark than the dirt of the ground. Or when He hardened Phoaroh's heart and sent the 10 plagues to Egypt. Or when He sent Ahab to his death in battle, or when He made Nebacudnezzar like a beast for seven years and made him lose all sanity and his kingdom, or when He killed Ananias and Saphira for lying about not giving up all the profit for selling their house. God. Is. Scary.
To be honest (I've already confronted God with the thought and apologized profusely for it, but I'm still working at changing the thought in my heart), God's a little tempermental. Not that He doesn't have the right to be, but He is.
And here's little ol' me, trying to get back into my faith, a real faith with a real relationship with a real God, and I just want so badly not to mess it up. I know that the Bible says that Jesus drank the cup of God's wrath for us, but that doesn't mean that He can't still get angry and decide to hit me with a bus tomorrow. Actually, I'm not so much worried about getting hit by a bus as I am that... you know, I'm really not even sure what I'm so freaked out is going to happen, but like I said, I really don't want to mess this up. I feel like I'm walking on eggshells here, trying not to hurt his ego (of which He has the absolute right for it to be as big as it is-there I go again, digging myself in a hole with my thoughts) or piss Him off with my human nature or my unthinking prayers (e.g. Job 38-41, Habakkuk 1).
And want to know the really scary part? I'm terrified that I'm not good enough to make it into Heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). That all my struggles are for nothing because I'm not capable of being good enough. Now, I know the whole point that the Bible is trying to get across is that *of course* we're not good enough. Hence Jesus! But it just seems like even with Jesus who died for our sins, there are still so many hoops to jump through, so many things that you just can't get wrong. Like constant repentence, or making sure to keep God as your first love (Revelation 2:4-5), or communicating with Him regularly, ect. It's like, yeah, you'll never be good enough to get God's mercy on your own, but you still have to be good enough to get it with a little help, too.
Super duper scary is this- I've started to think in Calvinist terms. Kind of going back to my struggle with how to make myself fall in love with God- you can't MAKE yourself fall in love. So that means that He's got to be the one doing it, right? And then I've also been on this kick about how mighty and powerful God is, about how everything, every breath I take, every working cell in my body is a gift and purely a tribute to His love and mercy. I keep thinking, "It's all Him, it's all Him. I can't function without Him, I can't live or move or breathe or think without Him-because He's the one doing it all. God is SOVEREIGN. But then... if all of that is all Him, then wouldn't that make my faith in Him His too? wi;oeiotj rgjerjgtjkbndf.d.......I don't want to think about that.
But then those thoughts get me thinking- I've been struggling with a few major theological questions recently, one of which is Mormonism (don't worry, I'm far from converted. It's just that they really did have a couple points to bring up about prophets and such that I don't like to think about) and another of which is charismatic/pentacostal churches and things that go with that like speaking in tongues and being slain in the spirit. And I've been praying and praying and listening to sermons and sending out emails to Eileen and Kristina and Mark and even Kevin, trying to figure out if these things are Biblical or not. My intial gut instinct is that no, they're not of God. But then I read the Bible and it makes it very clear that speaking in tongues and being healed through the Spirit and literally falling on your face when in the presence of God are all very Biblical.... but I know that things like that can very very easily be twisted into things that are from the devil as well. The sermons that I've listened to seem to actually be pretty divided on the subject. The initial emails that I've gotten back from Eileen and Kristina both warn me heavily that they don't think those things are Biblical though, and I'm mostly waiting to hear back from Mark on what he thinks because it sounds like he's the one with the most experience in this area. But my prayers come back with nothing.
I ask for guidance, I ask for a mind that's open only to the things of God and closed to all else. But it doesn't seem to matter. I. Get. Nothing. And I'm trying not to be bitter about it. I remember a sermon by Mark Driscoll once saying that God has three answers to every prayer: yes, no, and later. I'm really hoping that this is just one of the "laters", that this is one of those things that He'll reveal to me with perfect clarity in His own time... but what if He doesn't? What if, in my new Calvinist thinking, I'm being purposely led astray for the sake of God's ultimate plan? I'm the pot that was made to be smashed? I'm not one of the predestined and therefore gets to serve as the sacrifice as a means to an end with someone else's salvation? Or not even another person's salvation, but just as a lesson that God's trying to teach someone else?
Immediately, I rear back from that thought thinking, "That's ridiculous. God would never do that." But then I immediately have to chastize myself with, "Oh, because you would know? You, in your endless knowledge of God's infinite personality? YOU know what God would and would not do?" And that verse that says, "All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: 'What have You done?'" (Daniel 4: 35) God can do whateveer He freakin' wants. If that means I get to play sacrifice for the sake of someone else's knowledge, then I sure as hell ain't gonna be able to stop Him.
Anyway, this whole long, headache-inducing novel to say this: God scares me. Big time. And I know that we're supposed to have a healthy fear of God, but this is to the point where I'm scared to even initiate prayer for fear that I'll say the wrong thing. Jesus can say what He wants about "who of you by worrying has added a single day to his life?" but the truth of the matter is that in the case of pissing off God, it very well might add several days to my life. Both physical and eternal.