Why I don't trust God part2: I don't feel worthy of his promises
At times I have believed God could do anything, anything except forgive me that is. And even now, I sometimes fall into the erroneous thought that God loves other people more than He loves me, or at least likes them better, and is more likely to intervene in their lives than He is in mine. Just in my circle, I am not the only one who has these self-defeating thoughts and feelings, so I am sure that this is a fairly wide spread issue.
When we assign human attributes to God we come up with all sorts of incorrect assumptions about Him. When we make God human we assume He will think or act in a specific situation the way a person would, and that can get us into trouble. You see, if I had done for a person even a fraction of what God has done for me and then they spoke about me the way I spoke about God, I would never be able to forgive them. Therefore, when I give God human attributes, I think He would quite similarly, be unwilling to forgive me for all that I said against Him. Thankfully God is not like us humans.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:8-9
Good thing too, because if God was like any one of us, every one of us would be lost because not a one of us can even live up to our own standards, much less God's, yet he forgives us our shortcomings.
I know the statement, "If I had done for a person even a fraction of what God has done for me and then they spoke about me the way I spoke about God, I would never be able to forgive them," requires some explanation for anyone who doesn't know me personally, and probably for some who do as well. As I mentioned before, I grew up in a church environment and an abusive home. Some of you may have seen the Bart Millard movie, I Can Only Imagine, well my father almost made Bart's look like a good parent. Even after I left home, and even after my abusive father died when I was in my twenties, I have had a difficult life. I also have not always made the best life choices, which added greatly to my grief. I also fell into the gross habit of blaming my father for many of my poor life choices. Regardless of what my father did, I was still responsible for my own actions.
When I was a small child I had unshaken faith in God, I don't know how, but I did. As I got older my faith started to wain with every disappointment, every setback and every abuse I encountered. My father went to prison when I was nineteen, for reasons I don't particularly want to talk about at this point in time.
I wanted to distance myself from my father and everything about him, including the religion he claimed to subscribe to. My father claimed to be Baptist, but the baptist didn't claim him.
In an effort to distance myself from my father and everything that made him him, and on my journey to learn who I was outside of how I was raised, I did some things that I am profoundly ashamed of, the greatest of which is ridiculing and mocking God when I lost my faith.
This guy and his friends took down a massive tree at my uncle and aunt’s house. No one knew the tree was infested until it fell down.
I didn't loose my faith all at once like the clean breaking of a branch falling off a tree, it was more insidious, like a rot that slowly kills the entire tree, mostly hidden until it is far too late to reverse it. When my father went to jail, while I still believed, I planned on avoiding church and even threw my Bible away.
A few weeks later I had a dream that I died and went to hell, so I started thinking about going to church. It was too late to rescue my Bible as the trash had already been collected, but it wasn't a complete Bible anyhow. My father had torn out sections he didn't want me to read because they contradicted what he wanted me to believe.
At the time, we lived in Idaho and the predominant religion in Southeast Idaho is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or LDS for short, commonly called the Mormons. Almost everyone I knew in Idaho belonged to the LDS Church and they were nice people, so I thought I might as well give it a try. After all, I thought, they were just another Christian denomination since Christ was so prominent in their official name. I thought wrong. I later discovered, after joining the church, that a Christian sounding name was about as close as the church comes to actually being Christian. In addition to believing that people are saved based on how well they follow rules, they also have numerous other doctrines that contradict the Bible, teach that the Bible is corrupt and unreliable and completely change the nature of God from what is in the Bible.
There was a lot about the Mormon Church that caused me to doubt, and when that was combined with my difficult life thus far, my college courses trying to disprove God, and my failing marriage, I completely lost my faith and started identifying myself as an atheist. At first I was content to just not believe, but with my soon to be ex-wife going to extreme and insane lengths to get me to go to the LDS Church, I turned against everything religious and became bitter and angry, lashing out against religion in all its forms every chance I got.
There were a lot of problems with our marriage. Tanya’s one goal in life was to be the perfect Mormon woman and have ten children, and I could not give her even one, she believed everything the Church said regardless of how demonstrably false it was and I believed none of it, I love my mother and Tanya hated her. Actually, practically everyone except for Tanya loves my mother.
When Tanya would try to force me to attend the LDS Church I would point out things that were wrong with the Church, but she would refuse to listen. On several occasions Tanya told me even if the Church had not one shred of truth to it she would not want to know it, and if she did know it she would pretend she didn't and continue following the LDS Church the rest of her life. I can't even pretend to fathom that mindset, especially with the implications of what devoting you life to a lie would mean.
The harder Tanya and the LDS Church tried to get me to drink the Mormon Kool Aid, the more I ran from it. My mistake was assuming that since it was painfully obvious that the LDS Church was false and charlatan, and since bad things had happened in my life, that God doesn't exist.
Making the leap that God doesn't exist is like assuming electricity doesn't exist just because it isn't in your house and a few people without electricity claim to be the only one's to have it. However, the LDS Church does all they can to ensure anyone who leaves won't go to another church by ingraining it in people that the LDS Church is the only church who could be possibly true and if they are not the true church than a true church doesn't exist, which is why a lot of ex-Mormons turn atheist. I won't go into all of the problems with the Mormon Church here, and they are not few in number, but I plan on making a series on it later.
Once I had talked myself out of believing in God, I was like a man who had fallen out of a boat into turbulent waters, a man who detested any help from anyone inside the boat, too deluded to see that he was drowning. A man who was barely keeping his head above water enough to breath and yet would try to swim away from the life preserver and shove away the outreached hand desperately trying to save him, all the while speaking every perverse and denigrating thought that came to mind about the would be rescuer.
As it says in 1 Corinthians 1:18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
I wanted everyone to know I wasn’t religious
This shirt reads” Good because I want to be. No superstition Required
At that point in my life, I thought of the cross as foolishness and I made sure everyone knew it. I thank God that He didn't leave me there.
Some of the things I said to and about God in my anger I am too ashamed of to mention. I don't know why I fell so far off the wagon, but most of the time I didn't even know where the wagon was, nor did I care. Earlier I mentioned how people assume things, well just so everyone doesn't wrongly assume things about me, I did not live a riotous life when I lost my faith, and I did not develop a drug or alcohol problem, just a depression problem.
Even when I was the farthest from God I still wanted to believe but didn't think I could. When I look back it is obvious that when I ran from Him He ran toward me, when I hid from God He found me, and when I tried my best to distance myself from everything holy God drew me near and when I gave up on God He didn't give up on me, though He likely looked at me in my despair and wept.
Probably the best scripture to describe where I was at is Collosians 1:21 “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.”
Evil behavior is what it was, pure and simple. I will probably always be ashamed of my behavior towards God and those who believe in Him, but the Bible says that I have been forgiven. My shame makes me afraid that I am not good enough to earn the grace of God and His promises, but here is the secret, it can't be earned, none of us deserve it and none of us ever will. you see, I am not forgiven because of anything I have done or will do but rather because of the mercy of God, because of what He has done.
God is bigger than my sins, bigger than my mistakes, and if I don't believe God when he says he loves me and forgives me, and if I don't believe Him when he says that he has plans for my life for good than I make God a liar. Now let's look at this logically, out of the two of us, me and God, which of us has a track record of keeping promises and which one of us has let people down more times than I care to count? I don't think I even have to answer that one. I think I can just let you figure it out on your own.
None of my sins against God or His followers comes anywhere near the severity of those of Paul. Once Paul was converted he became a a great force for good, bringing people to Christ, and was eventually was put to death for the self-same reason he put Christians to death before his conversion. Perhaps I am a little afraid of just what God may do with me if I completely surrender my life to Him, which I will get into in another part of this series, but if Paul can be forgiven and used mightily than why not me?
1 Timothy 1:12-13 “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do his work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve him, even though I used to blaspheme the name of Christ. In my insolence, I persecuted his people. But God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief.”
Romans 5:10 “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!”
It is important to note the order in this passage, we were reconciled to God while we were enemies, not after we became friends with God, before. Don't you see? God doesn't just love us, He likes us, He likes you and He likes me, just as we are. Of course God wants us to change and become new creatures in Christ and to die to the world, He doesn't want us to remain as we are, but He loves us in our wretched and broken state every bit as much as He loves us when we are the best version of ourselves, which, by the way, we only become with the help of the cross.
When I was a child I accidentally set a landfill on fire and my mother was mad at me, oh boy was she mad, but my foolishness didn't diminish her love for me one bit, neither did it make her like me less or make her less willing to help me when I needed it.
Matthew 7:11 If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
My mother is a good mother, but God is a much better parent than she could ever be, and if she didn't didn't give up on me and was always willing to help me out regardless of how stupid I had been, than why would I ever doubt that God is willing and eager to help me when His love for me is so much greater than the love my mother has for me?
Part of my problem is, after all I have done, I feel bad that Jesus died for me and I don't want to add to it by asking Him for things that are not necessary, like I am being an inconvenience to God. I also sometimes fear, there is that word again, "fear," that what God has offered to me was a one shot chance and I blew it by not taking it when it was first offered. When I was growing up I often missed out on things because they were only offered once. I sometimes fear that I blew my chance at a happy marriage by marrying the wrong person and then not fighting harder to keep her from leaving. I fear that I blew my chance at a lot of the blessings God had planned for me by wasting a few years of my life running from and mocking God and I fear I lost my chance by believing blasphemous teachings about God.
First, fear is a liar, and second, God is bigger than any mistake I have made and bigger than any mistake you have made. God knew what each of us would do before we ever though to do it and He knows the plans He has for us. If something doesn't happen in our lives, regardless of how much we want it or think we need it, it is because God, in His infinite wisdom, has a much better plan for us. Often we think we know better than God does and when our plans don't work out we blame God when we should be blaming ourselves for not following His plan in the first place.
People often wrongly think they know better than God about what should happen in their lives, which I will get more into in another part of this series. When we trust God we trust his plans to be better than ours. God loves us to much to give us all of the stupid things we ask for and think we need. Like Garth Brooks says in one of his songs, "Sometimes God's greatest gift is unanswered prayers." God loves us enough too much to give us lesser things.
We trust our salvation to God, why not trust God in all other aspects of life as well. Not trusting God to guide my life is like not trusting Canon to be able to repair my viewfinder while at the same time trusting that they made a great camera and knew what they were doing when they made every aspect of it. One could say that perhaps Canon would not fix it properly because they don't care about the product once sold, but that would reflect poorly on them and is not in the nature of the company.
Similarly, but on a grander scale, God created us and not only knows every detail of His creation but takes joy in seeing each of us succeed and reach our full potential. If God cares enough about us to allow His only son to be tortured and murdered on our behalf than it is ludicrous to assume that He doesn't care enough about us and our day to day lives to get involved.
Luke 12:6-7 Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
God cares enough about you to know how many hairs is on your head, He cares about your life, your relationships, your career, your family and every aspect of your life, even the mundane. It is time to trust God.