How do you see God? Is He an austere, self-righteous being who sits on His throne, ready to smite those straying off of the straight and narrow? Is He a power-hungry dictator with no desire for your input or questions? Maybe, He is your genie-in-a-bottle, sitting on the wayside, ready for you to pull Him out and rub His belly to get what you want? Or, is He your Father, ready to walk through this life with you – preparing you, teaching you, guiding you, and loving you?
Maybe you feel like God is distant from you. Is your connection with Him tenuous at best? Do you feel like your prayers go unanswered? Your view of God is so important to understand because it will shape your relationship with Him, and our relationship with Him is our most powerful relationship we could possibly have.
The Lord has said over and over throughout the Bible that we are His children and that He is our Father. It is a constant and pressing theme that should reassure us of the status that we hold in His hearts. As our Father, we are able to approach Him much as we would approach our own fathers or as we would allow our children to approach us. When our children have questions, a loving parent will generally take the time to answer them to the best of our ability. Yes there are times when we may get frustrated by a million questions or our inability to answer them correctly due to our own imperfect knowledge, but replace us (fallible humans) by God (completely infallible and all knowledgeable) and you have the perfect Father/child relationship.
“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-10)
This passage is talking about more than just physical gifts or things that we think we need or want in life. The Lord promises us good gifts, but He does not promise us whatever we want. As our Father, he is there to answer us, to provide us with love and support, and to give to us that which we seek and ask for. Even as earthly parents, we know that there are some things that may be beyond our children’s understanding or ability to grasp at given times and there may be things that just would not be good for them, but we can trust Him that just as we would give our best to our children keeping in mind their welfare, He does the same, and more so, for us.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8)
When we feel like we don’t get anywhere with God when we ask questions or pray for what we want, I think that it would be important to look at the heart behind our questions. Jesus, in His teaching down here on earth, was very consistent in getting to the heart of the matter. When people approached Him with genuine questions and a humble heart truly seeking His counsel and wisdom, He always answered. When people, specifically Pharisees or rich young rulers, questioned Him out of a sense of arrogance or pre-conceived answers unwilling to be changed, they did not receive the answers that they wanted.
“For though the LORD is exalted, Yet He regards the lowly, But the haughty He knows from afar.” (Psalm 138:6)
In addition to the attitude of our heart when we approach Him, we need to ensure that our hearts are tuned in to God when we approach Him. The process of tuning in to God involves several things. It involves reading the scripture, spending quality time in prayer with God (not only talking, but taking the time to listen to His replies), quiet time and reflection. There are so many bible verses about being still in front of God, about taking the time to be quiet with Him, to draw near to Him and He will draw near to us, and about hiding the word in our hearts, and for good reason. That is how He talks to us. If we are constantly bombarding our ears, eyes, hearts, and soul with music, TV, work, books, school, etc., we generally won’t be able to hear Him above the noise.
Perhaps one of the greatest ways He helps us answer our questions is through discussion or sharing with fellow believers and followers of Christ. The bible tells us in Proverbs 27:17 that “as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” One of the greatest ways that the Lord can reach out to us is through other followers. That is why it is so important to get into a church that believes in and preaches the bible. That is why it is so important to walk through this life with other believers in a sense of community. Together, we are stronger than we would be alone.
God is our Heavenly Father — He cares about our issues and concerns as well as our questions and doubts. He is faithful to answer if we will trust Him and listen. Just like with the tantrums of a child, too young to understand the complexities of life and adapt to life’s demands, our Father will let us rage and question Him with the appropriate level of respect due Him. However, there must come a time when we stop raging and start listening – when we hear Him, we can start to grow wise. What is your view of Him? Hopefully, you can know that He is not a distant God. He is a loving Father.