How we see God is influenced by how we see ourselves. Brokenness and trauma creates its own kind of blindness that can only be remedied by healing and connecting with what we were before the pain. Bringing the whole person through the trauma into the present opens our eyes and we can see Goodness and love again.
W. Tozer said; “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us… Worship is pure or base as the worshipper entertains high or low thoughts of God. For this reason, the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he, at a given time, may say or do, but what he, in his deep heart, conceives God to be like”
Our real view of God is often hidden by what we think we should say. We say what we would like Him to be like and rarely do we reflect on what we really believe He is like. We wonder why we have difficulty recognizing God all the while never really recognizing what hinders us from seeing Him.
For some time now the Holy Spirit has been telling me that I have to go on another journey. It’s to a place I don’t want to go – to my past. You see, I lost track of someone in the past and I can’t connect with him. The Holy Spirit says it’s time to re-connect. Years ago as a child we parted company. Because of some very traumatic experiences at school and at home I left him behind. Now as an adult I hardly recognize him in old school pictures. Unease and avoidance circle in the dark fringes of my recollection of this little person and I don’t know why because – he was me!
My wife found a picture of me as a small child and put it up on my night table. I didn’t like to look at my picture so I would lay the picture face down at night only to find my wife putting it up again. Finally I took the picture and put it away and said to my wife – don’t put the picture up anymore I don’t like to look at it. She couldn’t understand why. And the truth be told – either could I. I just couldn’t seem to connect with the child in the picture.
When the Holy Spirit told me that I was to make this journey I was puzzled. I have done a lot of work on my past and I thought it was done. Yet, it isn’t done ‘till God says it’s done’. Now the Spirit tells me that how I see God today is intimately connected with this little individual that was me. Yet I hardly recognize him today and why should that hold me back from connecting with God? This was the question I pondered in the writing of this message. Why can’t I connect with this child and why does he make me uneasy. Too many ‘whys’?
God has shown me very gently that I’m uneasy because this little guy sees God differently from the way I do. I remember that he just wanted to be loved and feel safe. He loved everything and was no threat to anyone. I remember when he learned that some people hated him. I remember his fear when he realized that he wasn’t safe. A hard and broken world, changes a child, kills his innocence and takes his trust.
I remember how he saw God. He just loved Jesus and so expected the world to be loving. He felt safe with God and expected safety all around him. He would just run to Jesus with arms wide open; “Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.’” (Matthew 18:2-5) For this little guy, he truly was in his Father’s world until this broken world intruded – what a haunting scripture passage this has now become to me.
And in the times when his innocence was trampled and taken, I remember his confusion and fear. I came to be out of that confusion and fear. It made me the man I was to become – a man with lots of armor – the wrong kind of armor. This broken sinful world can transform a child of innocence into a child of fear who then grows into an adulthood of anger and cynicism. And the Holy Spirit wants me to go back to those moments?!!! To confront what I was and lost – to confront what I became, struggled against and only overcome by Jesus? Why?
Why return – because you can’t leave your child behind – that child born in the fear and confusion and the man he came to be has to be set free together – free of the chains of bondage of his deepest fears and resentments towards others and God. These resentments cloud his vision and hinder his path to righteousness and peace with God! These confusions create the toxic dark doubts that press in even though the light of the Holy Spirit burns at the centre of my heart. Why was I and why am I unlovable, bad and not worthwhile? Where were you God, when I got bullied and beat up on the playground FOR YEARS? Where were you God, when my mother and father lost my oldest brother in a horrible fire and couldn’t get over the pain of that loss? Where were you God in a family broken by tragedy and MADE RAGGED BY GRIEF AND LOSS?
Those deep hidden confusions and resentments create a belief in such lies that sometimes God isn’t there for you and you don’t deserve His protection. Lies that you’re not worthy of a loving, powerful God’s protection. Such lies forced upon a child by a cruel and indifferent world exert a powerful influence on the adult he becomes. Remember, I confessed that I in the past I didn’t trust God with my children – I now know in my spirit where that came from. And to know the truth as revealed in Christ Jesus is to be set free from the lies of our past. (John 8:32)
The heart cry ,‘Where were you . . .’, is the cry of a child who has suffered and lost in a fallen world and had his security dashed to pieces. It can happen to anyone at any stage of life because everyone carries their little child inside of themselves. It happened to Martha when her brother Lazarus died; Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21) No matter how we say we have moved on and beyond our past – that child cannot be left behind – he must be rescued and redeemed – it’s a package deal and God does heal all wounds. What is revealed by the Holy Spirit to our spirit is the beginning and basis of all true healing. We must be open to His leading in our lives, even when He takes us to places we don’t want to go.
A childlike trust and dependence on God is essential to our spiritual growth and maturation. The childish belief that the world we live in should be fair and we are entitled to only good things creates the mistaken desire for protection rather than His Presence. Jesus is always with us in our suffering, He went ahead of us into it and by his wounds and cuts we are healed; “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken , smitten of God, and afflicted . But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed . All we like sheep have gone astray ; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”( Isaiah 53:4-6)
Jesus said; “. . . in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) That is why Jesus said; ‘Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.’ (Matthew 18:2) However buried childish resentments against God and the resulting disbelief holds us back from recognizing who God really is and how He does have us in the palm of His hands. Such childish hurts and attitudes must be revealed by the Holy Spirit and the wounds that caused them must be healed – this is God’s work in us; “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (1 Corinthians 13:11,12)
What is the face of God – what is God really like. What did Martha see when she cried out to Jesus – ‘if only You had been here . . , ?’ Jesus, the Word made flesh, assured her and had to ask; “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26) I now know in my heart that only eyes that are opened in childlike trust in God can see who He really is. And the journey of holiness, which is the work of the Holy Spirit, is to recover that sight. Today is the day of salvation for that little child that was me long ago. I am not out of God’s protective reach – I never was and I never will be! His presence in my life is my protection! He was always with me and never abandoned me. The power of the lie is broken and the child is rescued!
When we truly see Jesus, we will see ourselves and where we stand; “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? . . . , in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:35-39) Amen!