This last year I was a student on SoD (School of Discipleship). I travelled around western Canada in the fall and South Africa and Uganda during the winter. I figured it would be a good year to “find God” and deepen my faith. And I did do that…but not the way I was expecting to.
Before being on SoD, I had a really tainted picture of God. The God I thought I knew was “the God who catches people by surprise in a sign of weakness–the God incapable of smiling at our awkward mistakes, the God who does not accept a seat at our human festivities, the God who says “You will pay for that,” the God incapable of understanding that children will always get dirty and be forgetful, the God always snooping after sinners.” (Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel ) Basically, a legalistic old man up in the sky somewhere who apparently loved me as though he were my own father…but if he is that religious and legalistic, seriously: who wants to take on a father like that when you don’t have to? Of course I had seen other glimpses of God: he wasn’t all stiff upper lip and no play to me, but my overall impression was that he wasn’t out to actually love me. Rather, he was out to make my life rough by giving me a bunch of rules to live by, and send me to hell if I didn’t comply.
That’s not who God is.
Over the past year I have finally begun to realize God’s insane love for me, and I know that I am actually getting it this time because it’s changing my life. Where I used to hold grudges, I am forgiving. Where I used to feel sorry for myself I can look at a situation objectively. I can see who I am, and that I am accepted, and I am accepting that. Yes, God loves us like a father, and like a brother and a best friend…but he is also in love with us. He is pursuing me like a crazy man in love with the woman of his dreams because he just wants to be with me. It’s crazy! And I’m finally beginning to understand. I am beginning to understand God’s grace more fully, and that I don’t have to be something or someone before he accepts me. Nothing I ever do can ever make him love me more; nothing I ever do can make him love me less.
My God smiles at my awkward mistakes and keeps on loving me. My God is a God of grace.