Hello, summer! It’s finally here, and I’m sure there are at least a couple of you who are more than ready for it. I hope you all are doing well and enjoying the warmer weather and sunshine. The season does bring a host of classic summer activities, and I’m looking forward to ice cream and swimming, to name a few.
Today’s topic has to do with fear and tricks. I’ve been thinking about it and believe it could make a good subject. It also touches on worry, which is something I might cover in the future.
Get it Covered
When I was younger, a middle grader, I was extremely paranoid about getting the stomach flu. In fact, I still become edgy when the nasty thing is migrating from one person to another. Anyways, since I’d learned to pray about my anxieties and fears, I did so. Nothing wrong with that, right? We’re supposed to do that, according to the scriptures.
However, there was something wrong in the manner in which I prayed. There are a lot of “right” ways to pray, and it would take a mighty long post to talk about that (in addition, I’m no expert in prayer), but there are also an equal amount of wrong ways to pray.
When stomach flu season came around, I’d pray every night that I wouldn’t get sick, not that night, not tomorrow, and not the next day or week. Whenever it was going around, I’d go through the same prayers routinely. Do you see the problem? You might think I was being thorough, but that would only be the surface image. The truth is, I didn’t trust God, and my perception of Him was sinfully wrong.
It wasn’t until recently, that I realized that I had the mindset of “if I didn’t cover it all, God would be sneaky and I would get sick on a day I didn’t cover in prayer.” I prayed like I was talking to a god who didn’t know my fears and my heart. I prayed like He would point out my failure to cover my bases and wag His finger at me for not being thorough. I acted like He actively searched for loopholes in my prayers.
Isn’t that sad? To be in fear that if you don’t completely cover something, that God will find a loophole and act accordingly? It’s terrible, not only for the person, but more importantly, for God. How unfair and hurtful is it to wrongly perceive Him as a trickster. To think of Him as a god who doesn’t have your best interest at heart and is out to get you.
God loves us, you know that, and I knew that, yet I still thought of Him in that way. He doesn’t try to find loopholes in our prayers. Jesus knows what our thoughts are and what we desire and pray for from the heart. We don’t need to “cover our bases”, nor should we believe that just because we thoroughly pray, the answer will always be “yes”.
Our Father doesn’t trick His children. On the contrary, He is a God of truth. I know it, but somehow my image of Him got distorted along the way. It wasn’t until later that I realized it was damaging to my relationship with Him.
You may not have this kind of distorted image of God, but all of us have perceived God in the wrong light to some degree. Whether we think He’s an angry god waiting to punish people, a god who doesn’t judge, or perhaps a distant acquaintance who isn’t interested, any of these are problematic and hurtful. While we’re living with these distorted images, our relationship and faith can’t thrive.
The Lord doesn’t trick His people. When we pray with the right motive, He doesn’t return our prayers with harm (Matthew 7:9-12). He is not a god of loopholes or “but you didn’t pray about that….” He knows the things on our hearts before we think them ourselves. (Psalm 139: 1-4).
God never provided me with a reason to see Him in the way that I did, but we can be influenced by stories. The ones with mythical beings or ancient gods who tried to trick people. There are a host of fairy tales and myths we’ve heard in our life that can influence us. It’s human nature to deceive, and sometimes I think we can fall into the snare of thinking God is the same way. However, such thinking is clearly wrong. He didn’t deserve it, and I’m sure it grieves the Lord when His children think of Him in such a way. When we sin, He grieves (Psalm 78:40).
I regret how long it took for me to see my mistake, but I am glad to have been awakened to this reality. It is comforting to remember that our Lord loves us and isn’t like the angry and cruel gods created by man. How great is Jesus’ love for us, and how blessed we are for His grace and forgiveness.
What do you think? What kind of perceptions do you have of God? Do they line up biblically? Have you ever stopped and examined how you see Him? Do you feel like you have to cover “everything” in prayer? Have you ever struggled with false images of Jesus? Can you find any in your life now? I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on this.