I think God is most often busy trying to convince us that He is not who we thought He was. It is stunning how often He will reverse our perceptions in order to show us how big He is, or how much he loves us. Sure, we are told that repentance means changing our minds and turning away from whatever currently has us going in the wrong direction. But somehow that description sounds like it is something we have to do, by some supreme effort of will, in the hope of a reward in heaven.
I guess I am thinking about the way God reaches out and makes it possible. For instance, decades ago as a middle schooler, I was convinced that I was completely unacceptable. After a couple of brutal years of social exclusion, I was positive I did not fit in anywhere. I did not fit in at home where I often felt like the family scapegoat. I did not fit in at school, nor at church. But God stepped in and turned all that around.
You have to understand, I grew up in the church. My mom was the organist. If anyone is at church as often as the preacher’s kids, it is the organist’s kids. One would think that if anyone would simply grow into faith as sometimes happens, it would have been me. I even went to a special christian family camp in the summers. I thought of myself as a pretty good christian. I mean, I was polite, I did my homework, I even made my bed most of the time. But here I was stuck in a miserable self image. Then God passed by, to use a biblical terminology. He showed me a piece of Himself that amazed me.
First someone took me to a crusade. I couldn’t particularly relate to a retired football player, but when they made the invitation, I went forward. I thought it was funny that no one had asked me to pray such a prayer before, but if it was required then fine. I sure didn’t expect it to make much difference in me or my life. But afterwards I was so excited, I couldn’t sit still and I had a burning desire to read my bible. Of course that didn’t last too long, but the follow up study was helpful, for a while.
What happened next was completely unexpected. As if it were just for my benefit, a new couple came to our church and volunteered to help with the youth. They took the most humble position, but then every month someone who had formerly been ahead of them moved away. Soon they found themselves in charge of the whole thing. And for me the result was that church became a refuge. Not only did God accept me, He loved me enough to bring others around me who would care for me and help me get to know Him better. Even after so many years, that amazes me.
And there are more instances which I will share in succeeding posts.