How I see, know, feel, hear, love God
The Father of Creation. Giver of life. Restorer of life. The beginning, the end, the middle. The whole shebang. (As apposed to Carl Sagan's Big Bang).
"I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children." Revelation 21: 1-7
Oh, the folly and arrogance of man, to believe there is no God; to occupy himself with disproving his existence; to seek to create his own God, in himself, his idols, his obsessions, his self sufficiency, his science, his technology, his partner, his parents, his job... And pity the poor man who doesn't know him, who has never heard his name, who has never needed him.
Reading the Bible, the official Word of God, we get a clear picture of God's character, though can one ever truly know the full extent of his doings, his wonders, his being? I think not.
Given that we messed up his GOOD AND PERFECT PLAN for the world (see Genesis; and thanks, Adam, thanks Eve), it's little wonder our natural inclination is to keep a safe distance from God (wrath, fear, doom!) and go about our merry way. That's a trap. Heard of Hell*? Yep, it's there. And it exists on earth (as in having one hell of an existence) and in eternity (damnation – eek, alright!).
Thank GOD, thank GOD! for his grace and forgiveness and mercy, which he bestows on even those who choose to defy him and defile his name and deliberately disobey his good and perfect laws, exchanging a GOOD life for a FORSAKEN existence. His ultimate GIFT of grace? His Son Jesus Christ, through whom – and only whom, not by one's own power or might or good deeds; even Pollyanna needed Jesus – we are put right before God.
"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast." (Ephesians 2:8)
God works in mysterious ways beyond our comprehension. BUT he also works through his Word (the Bible), the Lord Jesus' teachings, his Holy Spirit (which comes on those who accept him by faith), his church, and his people, so that we may, despite our fallible human-ness, know his wishes and his plan for us, his LOVE, his mercy, his grace, and, ultimately a better life here on earth – an awe-inspiring wonder in itself – and the comfort of knowing what's ahead when we, inevitably, die (Heaven – woo!).
We are all a part of his picture. He's in the driving seat. But we have to choose to take our hands off the wheel and let him lead us down the road to righteousness, atonement, salvation and a full and fruitful existence through his road rules. HE GAVE US CHOICE. HE GAVE US FREE WILL(Y).
"The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever." Isaiah 32:17
Many of us never give God a second thought because, frankly, life is happy-la-de-da, thank you very much, until something untoward happens and we're, like, 'What the?'. Others go through life collecting junk – bad relationships, crappy choices, accolades, addictions, weird ideas about how to do life (and who God is or isn't) – and come to a point where life is soooo very messy that they must unload or lose the plot and give up.
Others, still, are born into sucky circumstances through the fault of man (terrible parents, poverty, war times), or are dealt the kind of blows in childhood that creates a shield of steel, guarding them from anyone's love, let alone a God who would allow such things to happen, and/or walk around with seeping wounds so exposed as to make them unable to enjoy their life (restore them to dignity, He can!).
God has answers for everyone. He abandons no one. No matter how bad you've been; no matter how many hurts you harbour; no matter how many times you've heard him knock at the door and pretended no one was home.
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you." Matthew 7:7
The question is, are you prepared to leave behind what the world has made you, what you want to be, what the world tells you you should be – casting off the hurts that fuel your fire, the ambitions that drive your day, the habits that control your life – in order to make good on the awesome plan God has laid out for your life (which is better than you could imagine, though not without its own challenges)? That's a BIGGIE. That means losing control!!!!!
Again, that's why God has given you a bunch of tools to help you along your way, including the stories in the Bible that illustrate our Israelite and Christian forebears' experiences of God. But, more particularly, that's why he gave us Jesus Christ, who calls on us to pick up our cross and follow him.
He is the TRUTH, the WAY, the LIGHT to GOD. THE ONLY WAY TO GOD.
(Sorry to be all shouty, but this point cannot be stressed enough). BECAUSE... we are all sinners in God's eyes until we commit to follow Christ. Even those shiny-shiny wonderful people who are so good they emit flower-like scents from their pores. Without Jesus we are smelly/stinky/poopy to God.
"Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Romans 3:20,23
"For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him." John 5:22,23
The hardest part to get an intellectual grip on is the death of Jesus Christ. Like, why would God KILL his only Son; the most perfect man that ever walked the earth? The answer is within the Old Testament – check out how repulsive humankind can be and how far we all fall short of his laws! Jesus' death, scary and horrible as that was for him to bear, was the level of atonement God required for our sins.
"Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved." Ephesians 2:5
God is patient, kind, compassionate... if we choose in our hearts to seek him, he will hear the call. He takes everyone's calls. God ain't no snob.
"For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:12
Not all of us will pass the test; Jesus – more so his resurrection, in which lies hope – won't be a revelation to all of us, nor the one we choose to follow. But when your eyes are opened, when you see Jesus for what and who he is and when you commit to following him – despite life's crappy seasons and crappy situations and the flack you will cop because of it – Jesus becomes your salve, your goal, your EVERYTHING; daily he washes away the selfishness that inhibits your relationship with your creator GOD, the source of true joy and peace, and strengthens you for righteous, joyful, confident living among man. You will want to please him above all, and in the process gain a perspective that without God you are so very, very small.
The purpose and meaning of life, Brian? Jesus lays it out straight:
"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself." Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27
How do you do that? This love thing. It's a toughie if your ideas of love have been warped by the world, but it's easy if you first understand that God loves you sooooo much that he laid out his very life on earth for you; with that thought embedded in your noggin and your heart, you will want to honour him with every fibre of your being and bring glory to him through your work, your life, your thoughts, your body, your obedience and your gifts, talents, money and blessings.
"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Paul to the Ephesians 2:10
"Be careful to obey all these commands I am giving you. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him." Moses to the Israelites, Deuteronomy 11:22
This generosity of heart and of spirit, of willing service to God and one's fellow man, in turn, makes life so very sweet; you become less stinky, more perfume-y. That can take time, depending on your level of obedience and willingness to give up what he tells you to it could take years/decades (the Israelites were 40 years in the desert!). But you can't out-plan God. And if you stumble and fall along the way?
"God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation." James 1:12
God is still there, in his infinite grace, and is willing to accept your transgressions in Jesus' name (you can't out-do Jesus), but Jesus himself calls on us to turn from sin and follow him in his ways, trusting that he will be blessed. God, should you choose to accept Jesus, will remake your life from the inside out. And you can enjoy a relationship with him in all your days.
"Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him." Psalm 2:12
THANK GOD YOU'RE HERE? You bet.
Not buying it? Your choice. No judgement here. But you are selling yourself short. Just sayin'.
*What of his children, you ask. Do the ones taken from us very young wind up in Hell if they do not know Jesus? I don't think so. Jesus loved the kiddies. He wanted us all to be like children – nimble of mind and open of heart and clear of conscience. Said Jesus: "I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven... Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish." God is fair and just, judging each of us according to our moral understanding. You can read more on Apologetics elsewhere.