Thursday, April 02, 2009

I can't keep my mouth shut about this...

I heard it again this morning. And I cringed. 

In fact, I've heard it so much lately that I just want to scream.

What exactly is it that makes you want to scream, Mer?

I absolutely CANNOT STAND to hear someone say "God whacked me with a 2x4" or "God had to knock me upside the head" or "God smacked me between the eyes" in order for that person to get whatever message God was trying to convey.

I don't know about you, but I've never heard God speak to me in harsh or condemning voice. Never

His voice is gentle and kind. He speaks correction into my life but it is never with brute force--whacking, knocking, smacking--ugh! Those words just make me cringe because they are not fitting for the God I know. The God I know speaks with love and compassion. Always.

We watched a short clip of The Passion of the Christ during church last Sunday and it reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend shortly after we'd first seen the film. She was telling me that the crucifixion scene was incredibly hard for her to watch and she buried her face in her hands and just couldn't do it. And then she heard God say to her (and imagine here with me the most condescending voice you can think of because that's the voice she used to relay what she heard), "Don't you DARE turn your face away. You watch EVERY second of this scene so you will KNOW what I sacrificed for you."

I was dumbstruck. 

I understood the importance of really "seeing" Jesus' sacrifice, but what I didn't understand was the tone she used to describe God's voice. It sounded mean and bullying to me. 

And honestly friends, I've never felt God was a bully. It seems more like God to say, "Dear, dear Meredith. Please let your eyes take in all of this scene. I know it's hard to endure, but I love you so much that I gave everything for you and I want you to see, to really see, the depth of my love."

Which sounds more like God to you?

I don't know. Maybe I'm off. Maybe I'm way off. 

But maybe, just maybe the voice we mistake as God's is our own voice of condemnation. And maybe, just maybe, we need to listen a little harder for that voice that sings over us.

38 comments:

Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

I must confess, I've been guilty of saying that God whacked me on the side of the head...but I've never meant it in the manner you take it here. I have just meant that He's had to tell me something over & over to get His point across to me (but always in love...I feel sorry for your friend who felt condemned about the movie).

I totally see your point, though...and realize I haven't been careful with my words. Thanks for bringing that to my attention...it's certainly something I needed to know! :-)

Jennifer said...

Amen, sister!

John said...

Well said, Mer. What we say about God usually says as much, if not more, about us than it does him...

J

The Bowden's said...

Very well said. I don't think I've ever said anything of the like but I have heard others say it several times.

Mary @ Simple Things said...

Like Melissa I have to admit that I've been guilty of saying things like "God had to smack me in the face with it" but I also never meant it in the tone of your friend. I only mean that there have been times when God has literally put something or someone right in front of me so that it's right in front of my nose and I can't avoid/ignore/deny it any longer. I've honestly never thought about the way that might sound (especially to a non Christian that is already afraid of God) and will definately watch my words in the future.

I can't imagine someone feeling as if God were yelling at them and scolding them into believing. That doesn't sound like God at all. It sounds much more like the internal conversations I have with myself, scolding myself for my shortcomings.

Carpoolqueen said...

I'm an internal self-scolder. And I have to stop and remember to divorce my emotions from the truth I know to be true - that He loves me and wants me to live life ABUNDANTLY.

Amen.

Deena said...

Beautifully written! I'm reminded of 1 John 3:1 "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God."

Tiffani said...

Girl...what words you have today!

Such truth. Such honesty. Such heart.

And I completely agree.

Mama Voss said...

I agree with you. I think that God is all loving, all caring, and encouraging. Not a mean bully. So... Enough already!

Jeanie said...

Totally agree. I think it's just easier for some people to think of God as a big meanie. While he is an avenger against those who persecute his people, He is not persecutory. I'm a pretty gentle soul and can't imagine falling in love with and giving my life to a Creator who was trying to hurt me, even emotionally. All of Scripture speaks of how good He is to His people and of His great love for us.
I would never refer to "being hit upside the head" or "punched between the eyes" when referencing anything involving my own children, why would God act that way towards his?
Thanks for the thought provoking post.
Jeanie
http://mageditor.blogspot.com

Holly said...

I agree with you, dear friend.

I don't know if you ever read this, but here was my experience watching "The Passion of the Christ." http://crownlaiddown.blogspot.com/2008/03/hes-holding-me.html

It was a miracle to me.

Cathy said...

I don't if I've ever said that particular phrase, but I know in my own life when I'm "hearing God" and the guilt and condemnation come, that really it's NOT him but me. And I'm STILL making it about me and being self-absorbed instead of making it about HIM and his unconditional, amazing, indescribable love, forgiveness, and grace.

(I'm speaking about myself here.)
I think we, our sinful selves, always want to turn things back around to us, when really nothing about this life on earth is about US, but about us bringing glory TO HIM and HIS great sacrifice and gift. (I need to constantly remind myself of this one.) We are here to represent Him well! And He knows we're not perfect! That's WHY we need Him!!

Gina said...

I have heard God's voice. I have actually blogged about it. And I agree with you. My God is gentle and compassionate. He seeks restoration- not recompense.

Michele said...

Well said, my friend. I once heard that alot of people view God as they do their earthly father. I probably did this at one time in my life too, that is actually before I was as close to the Lord as I am now. I know my sister has struggled with this a good bit herself.

Gretchen said...

If I were being pithy, I'd say it's usually James or Paul who slap me around the most, but I won't be pithy. For this is a most timely & excellent post for me to see & "hear".

We make a huge mistake (& possibly insult Him, too) when we bring His attention-getting & teaching down to our level. He meets us where we are...

But still...I know I've been guilty of saying that before. Thanks for keeping my eyes open.

DotBlogger said...

I love this post.

snoodlings.com said...

Wow that you posted this because I was just thinking about this last night and was thinking about writing down my thoughts so I could work through what I believe. I'll work it out in my own space so I won't "wordy up" your comments section, but I am so prone to create God in my own image. I don't remember how I arrived at this point but God pointed to Romans at one point and reminded me of this: There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus and who are walking, not in the flesh, but by His Spirit. The condemning voice I hear? The one that leads to a dead end? That's not my Father. He will correct and discipline me when I'm off course. That's what a good Father does. But even when He points out things that aren't right in my life, it's always with the goal of drawing me closer into a more perfect relationship with Him.

And I wordied it up anyway. Sorry.

Deidre said...

Okay, first your husband's comment is brilliant. Brilliant!

I understand what you're saying and I agree with you. I recently heard a man in my church say that God gave him a whipping all the way back to church and I know what he means by that, but I cringed a little when he said it. I used to view God as the one always standing over me pointing his finger and listing all my faults. It has taken YEARS for me to see Him differently. And, you're right - he doesn't speak that way to us at all. We just have to accept how loving He is and understand His forgiveness in order to accept that part of Him.

Love this.

Becky said...

Well said, Meredith.

Christen said...

I heard a message taught about the verse in Genesis where God says "where are you?" he said how do you read that, an angry God stomping around yelling where are you! or a concerned Father longing to spend time with His children asking where are you? he said people who read it as mad think God is angry with them.
the same pastor taught about the verse that the enemy goes around like a roaring lion, why like a roaring lion? because he's trying to imitate the Lion of the Tribe of Judah and wants to fool people into thinking God is angry with them. when people think that does it make them want to spend time with the Lord, praying, reading His word, i don't think so. my own kids certainly don't open up about their day when i'm mad at them, they stay away from me. Just what the enemy wants if you ask me, but if you see God as your Shield and Comforter, ever present help in time of need, you run to Him with everything!
anyway, i'm the opposite, i'm always saying God talk louder i don't know what to do! He certainly isn't the One who needs to change, it's me, i need to listen harder for His still small voice. His sheep know His voice and sheep are not afraid of their Good Shepard.

Elizabeth said...

Beautifully written and so true. Legalism is the thing in Christian's lives that frustrates me more than almost anything else. My dad wants to write a book about it, titled "Legalism: It Might be a Sin to Read This Book." Can you imagine how many people will take that seriously and run far, far away? Wow.

Christi said...

I'm with you on that one!

Anonymous said...

I agree with you. So many times I am just waiting for God to be so upset with me, but He never is. It's always His Love and Patience for me that comes.

Jacquie said...

I agree with Melissa and Mary. I think people are well-meaning (for the most part) when they say those phrases, and I can see what they mean. We're a stubborn people and sometimes when we "see the light" or finally "get it"... it's like a light bulb moment and therefore... hits you between the eyes or slaps you upside the head. You know when you knock yourself in the head... NOT GOD. I'm thankful He chases us and desires to have a love-relationship with us or we'd all be astray half the time. My best idea of how God views me... is when I think of the love I have for my children - and however perfect it is, it's still flawed! How much more His love must be for me!

Very interesting post.

leigh said...

I had so many responses to this post...until I read the last paragraph. I think you said it all. Nicely done.

Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

You know, I may or may not be the only Reformed reader of your blog (?) but I totally agree with all that you said - but it goes beyond that. I cringe when people say "Today God told me to ____."

Is it cannonized in Scripture?

Than He didn't tell you that.

Shanda said...

I believe it is easy to project what you know in human terms to what you believe in Spiritual ones...some have not had gentle and tender fathers or authority figures so I can see how that is something that they have to have a breakthrough moment on.

Others just speak not taking to heart the meaning or power of words.

Thank you for causing us all to take pause to consider our words...

JennaG said...

I've often heard that we tend to think of God speaking to us as our earthly fathers/father figure did. I don't know.
Interesting to think about.

Amber said...

I have to agree with a couple of the others...I think I've said those statements before, but have never envisioned God being a bully to me. Only my one pathetic nature that requires Him speaking it over and over and over and over...because I'm a lot slow!

Love your words though, Mer. My God is gentle, kind, and so tender.

Thanks for sharing today.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Girl,
I asked a group of beginner Bible
study gals to write their view of
God. It was very sad! They used
words like condemning, hostile. Then I asked them to write about their dads. Strangely, the same descriptive words were used. Our view of our perfect Heavenly Father can be confused with the imperfections of our earthly fathers.

Phyllis Neal

Lori Motl said...

Meredith, you said this very well. I have been so overwhelmed recently by God's consistent, loving, faithful hand. I know that he is guiding me. It is sad to think that some have such a hostile imagine of our Heavenly Father. So many great comments on here too! It's wonderful to be able to share ideas, opinions and thoughts like this. For sharing this!

Mollie said...

Right On Sister!!!
God speaks to us many ways but always in a sweet gentle way. Just the other day I was sweeping the yellow pollen off of the porch (remember all that nasty stuff??) and I was complaining of how much a mess it was. As I was sneezing my head off!! And God spoke to me that I should be thankful that I have a house that has a porch that has pollen on it. And so, I started to thank him as he spoke to me.... I even thanked him that I had a broom!! LOL!! And then I asked him to forgive me for hating pollen- because after all he created those pine trees!!! Great Post!!

lisa@littlesliceoflife said...

I agree.

I once heard (maybe in Breaking Free?) that a lot of times our view of our Heavenly Father is influenced by our relationship with our earthly father. Maybe your friend grew up with a dad that spoke harshly to her?

Becca~TimeWellSpent said...

You are not way off at all and I totally agree with you.
I don't see God as a bully at all. Loving and kind, caring about us.
He WILL use hard situations to help us see our need for Him.

Aspiemom said...

I can't imagine God sounding mean, either. Just. But not mean.

I like your idea, best, about how he would have talked to you about watching what He went through.

Anonymous said...

A post with nothing but agreement in the comments isn't exciting.

Perhaps you know a different God than others do. Maybe you are 'good' and 'obedient' and never have to hear God raise his voice to you.

But He does.

And just because He does doesn't mean He is not loving or kind or gentle. Some of us need it.

Don't 'cringe' just because it isn't your experience. Let other's have their relationship with God and let God do the work he needs to do in their lives.

Peacemaker

Robin said...

While I agree with Anonymous that God may speak to us in different ways. I totally agree with Meredith, the nature of the God is not harsh and judgemental. If we look at the characteristics of God those don't make the list. While God may have to work to get our attention, I think he does it with a gentle, loving spirit. God's discipline is not with a board but with a shepherds staff. A staff that is used to lovingly guide sheep to peaceful pastures and pure water.

Rachel said...

Great post, Meredith! God does get our attention in the way that he wills, but even when the situation is hard, I don't think HE is harsh. Of course, I've had a relatively "easy" life, so maybe my perspective isn't true to the situations of others.