For a long time, when I pictured God in my head, I thought of Morgan Freeman in Bruce Almighty – an elderly guy, sat on a cloud, looking down on me and judging the way that I do things. The God that was in my head sees everything, but that didn’t feel good; it felt like I constantly had some scary headteacher figure looking over my shoulder, tutting at my mistakes. And when I tripped, he would pick me up, and would land me back on my feet; but it felt like I had started again, having to work my way back up in his good books. Maybe this is similar to the picture of God that you have in your head – the old man, sat above us, stroking his beard. The guy that you only really need to think about at Christmas and Easter, if that – because the rest of the time, he’s just sat up there, minding his own business. He’s God; he’s got bigger things to think about, right?
Everything that I have learnt in the past four years has shown me that God is the absolute opposite of this picture that I had in my head. I’ve got to know a big, big God, who created the world – but who wanted me so much that He made me. The God that I know does not just look down on my, but walks beside me – he’s with me, feeling the things that I feel, knowing exactly what I’m thinking and what my heart is doing.
All though history, God has had so much tender love for the people that He created; to the Israelites, He said:
“It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; they did not realise it was I who healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with tides of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them” – Hosea 11:3-4
The God that said this, to me, looks like a father, bending down to show kindness and love to his children; so different to that old man sat on the cloud. It speaks of a God teaching his children to walk, filled with tenderness and grace – not tutting at them when they get it wrong. He humbled Himself to bend down and feed the people; even people that had become arrogant and turned away from Him. His children were hurt – and he responded as any Father would – by bending down and comforting them.
We are a part of this same story – like the people of Israel, we are God’s people, and he loves us with this same tenderness. The Bible says that when we know Christ, we become children of God:
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs; heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” – Romans 8:17
God is not this far-away man, sat on a cloud. God is my Father – he bends down to me, he picks me up when I fall. And what’s more; this isn’t a chore to God – he gets joy from loving me!
“Look at the birds of the air: they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you, by worrying, add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:26-27
The things that are valuable to us bring us joy. God created us, in a particular place, at a particular time, for a purpose – and that means we’re not an accident. We’re valuable to God and we’re here for a reason.
I sat on a park bench recently, and watched a little girl feeding the ducks. The ducks were crowding around her legs, eager for the next lump – but there was so much joy on her face. She was feeding them, and it was giving her joy.
We need God – I need God. He’s the source for my life, and my energy, and my passion – but I give Him so much joy. When He looks at me, he isn’t scolding me – he enjoys my company.
“Be confident, because you are a child of God. Be humble, because everyone else is too”. – Glennon Doyle Metton