How do you remember your childhood? You probably think of the good times–the happy moments–if you’re a positive person. If you’re not fully characterized by an upbeat personality, you may think of the sad times–the disappointing outcomes in your early life–before you think of anything else.
But how does God look at your early years? Does He see it the way you do? Where was He anyway? some of you may be wondering. Did He even care? I certainly didn’t sense Him. In fact, the older I got, the farther away He seemed to get.
What hope is there for this sort of history? What do you make of a life that you wish had been more intertwined with God (the loving God you hear about), yet didn’t happen that way because God apparently thought it was a bad idea.
You look about at all the people who grew up so sweetly in safe Christian homes and you envy them their freedom to develop. You wager you’d be right there with them in their present glory if you hadn’t had such obstacles so early on. But some big things got in the way of you acquiring faith and there’s nothing you can do about it now. There just isn’t any hope–not for you.
Do you feel this way? Have I just given text to your words? If so, know that I do not hold myself apart from you–I have felt that way. I have known the distress that a painful past can give you as you look to your future. The distrust that makes pursuing a relationship with God difficult, if not impossible.
But I also know a grace that fits those of us who find ourselves here. This grace is not a medical solution, nor is it a product of social engineering or psychology. Rather, this grace is the Engineer Himself come down to us–to live at home, not only in the outward manifestations of our mess, but in us. He is Love that come down in a form that would not just fix us, but claim us.
He is the God who contrasts Himself with the ones who left you, loved you less than you needed and lived without ever really taking the time to get to know who you were. He is not like that. He has always known you and He is not content with merely knowing you from a distance. He wants you to know that He knows you, and for you to know Him as well.
For a time, He may have allowed things to close in on you, for you to be taken captive by evil purposes. He may not have come to your rescue, but that doesn’t mean He didn’t listen to every one of your tears.
You may ask, “What kind of God would do this?” To that I’m compelled to share with you what I believe is His answer (at least in part): Do you really want to know? Is your purpose in asking to discover who I am or to justify your “private” rejection of Me?
God wants to share with you who He is, He wants to unfold His plan for you–from the beginning to the end–but He cannot reveal Himself or His mission to you if you are not open to Him. He desires to have a delight-producing exchange with you, but He will not force you to into this. Thus, He leaves the decision up to you: Whether you are willing to bring your questions to Him in eager anticipation of the delight you will find in Him or whether you will scorn any joy He offers that you might keep supreme your own idea of God and throw your bitterness-fueled questions forever in His face.
The question is who will be the one to exercise power here? Who will take the lead? God waits to be offered the lead in your life. You may say that He already ruined the life He had control of and now it’s your turn to make amends for what He did (or didn’t) do. But how can you judge the result if He has not had control of your life and heart at the same time? God plans the beginning, but He gives us the choice of whether we will let Him bring the fullness of the ending He wants in our lives.
The beginning is not always beautiful until the beginning and the end are able to tell the same story the Narrator had in mind. You received the beginning, it is your choice whether you will trash it or submit to the Story Teller in order that you might not miss the transformation He has long had in store for the end. Will you do it?