Something had been lurking in the back of my mind for too long. I couldn’t give it an accurate description, it was just a shadow of something that wouldn’t show me its face, but during a conversation at small group, it stepped into the light. The words found their way out of my mouth. In that moment, I am grateful I was with my church family, because I needed to confess it.
“If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1:8-10
I have different feelings about and for the three persons of God. It’s unsettling and I am wrought with guilt at its very existence within me.
“for your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.” Psalm 25 ESV
Walk with me in this for a minute, and I’m okay if anyone takes a moment to judge me, but I have to live this outloud. I’m judging me anyway, so it can be party.
I think of Jesus, and I’m both broken and grateful for His stripes and scars for me, and I cry sorrowful and joyful tears simultaneously. I can love and hate what Jesus endured for me. The paradox dwelling in that connection is essential, albeit baffling for me, in our relationship. It exists with no room for guilt. What do I do with this? I want to rejoice like David before the ark.
Like others, I have to give myself over in worship, letting all of it blaze as one sweet, painful river, drowning in the current, still on fire.
“But He was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5 ESV
I think of the Holy Spirit, and I’m stoked. When Mark taught the series, The Forgotten God, I was excited. This is the aspect of God that pushes and pulls, and as Jesus said He would, helps us. The Holy Spirit is fire and balm, the whisper and the shout in my ears, the conviction and comfort in recognizing my mistakes and getting past them after repenting. This indwelling closeness makes it possible for us to say and do things we can’t on our own, allowing us to speak words that are not ours, share knowledge we don’t have on our own, do miraculous things in His name, leaving no room for guilt.
“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7 ESV
Now, here is where I fold up like a lawn chair, where I want to hide myself like Adam and Eve did:
I think of God the Father, and I could strike out running toward a shadow in which to hide. I’m forcing a gap here, a chasm. I’m leaving room for guilt, though it’s not what I really want. I feel like the cat in the Pepé Le Pew cartoons, squirming in the arms of God’s affection, looking for distance. It’s not because I feel repulsed by His love, it’s more toward unworthy and fearful. He will judge me, and I’ve done some stuff! But He doesn’t give us a spirit of fear, right?
The only way I can phrase this accurately is to say I don’t feel super close to this part of God. It’s not him, it’s definitely me. I feel guilty for that, even more unworthy. This is a thorn, it’s in my foot, impeding my walk, and I’m sure I’m missing out on something amazing.
“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” 2 Timothy 1:7
So what do I do with this? How do I go about letting God the Father closer? Do I try to reconcile these feelings, curb stomp them into submission, or let Jesus stand in the gap, while having the Holy Spirit reshape my heart for an up close encounter at a later date? Where do I go?!
I go to the parable of the prodigal son, this comforts me when I feel distant. There was a time in my life after I was rescued by the Savior, a lengthy time, I must confess, when I more than turned away, I ran away from God- all three persons of Him. But who can hide from the monolithic, yet uplifting and sheltering presence of the Lord? Certainly not me. When I returned, I was and am still, as welcome as when I was found the first time. Grace is scandalous!
“ And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.” Luke 15:21-24 ESV
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
So I cling to that, And lean into the whispers of the Holy Spirit, while I mourn and rejoice the price paid for me, all while keeping my distance from my Father. He demonstrates what I lack in patience, waiting always, and I’m sure he has to be shaking his head at the utter ridiculousness of dealing with me, but smiling, with His hand extended in my direction. After all, he’s my father, I am His, and He is mine.