In light of the past few weeks’ revival events, I’ve been taking time to reflect and ponder. My emotions have created a mixed bag, from skepticism to doubt, disbelief, questions, and awe.
On one hand, I praise God if He is using these services to truly speak and transform lives. I have not been to any of the services, but I know that God is powerful and can do anything He chooses, especially when we aren’t expecting it. On the other, however, I think it’s good to be cautious and careful with what we quickly believe to be the Spirit of God.
Even the Bereans in Acts 17 do this when Paul presents the gospel message to them. Though eager to hear Paul’s teachings, they test them themselves in the Scripture and decide what is from God.
“As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men”(Acts 17:10-12, NIV).
Paul was known as an excellent teacher and an even better friend. He truly cared that every person heard and had access to the Bible after his conversion from Saul to Paul. In fact, this is why Paul felt called to attend as many missionary journeys as he did! But no matter how great the speaker, one’s credibility and ability to represent the gospel should always be analyzed in light of the Bible. People are not the source of light themselves but are the ones pointing to the Light.
For this reason, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22 further notes, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil” (NIV).
While I am not one to debate or judge if these revival services are real or not, their appearance has caused me to think about how I view God. And more importantly, if I understand Him.
How Do You View God?
Growing up, I was raised in a traditional Methodist Church. Every service, worship session, and layout for an event looked exactly the same. Over time, I didn’t know why I was doing or saying what I did. I didn’t even understand the Apostle’s Creed that I recited by heart every Sunday. Quickly, God and my relationship with Him became routine, just rehearsed words that needed to be prayed to maintain my perfection status.
By the time I reached high school, unforeseen mental and physical circumstances struck my family. My view of a father was immensely distorted, and I truly started to wonder and ask, where is God in the midst of suffering? Verses that call God our Abba, or Father, have been a challenge for me to understand and accept. I’ve wrestled for years with how God can be angry and loving, forgiving and punishing, reachable yet above and beyond us all.
But it wasn’t until a recent counseling session that I realized I should give my current view of God more contemplation. And that led me to ask this question: “Do I Understand Him?”
Do I Understand Him?
While I think we would all like to say we know and understand God fully, from how He works to why things happen the way they do, I don’t think that is possible.
It is possible to know and have an intimate, close, and personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus came and died for us, so we could partake in this personal relationship with Him. That’s the core essence of the gospel message.
However, God never expected us to try and figure out all His ways. Isaiah 55:8-9 notes, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9, ESV).
1 Corinthians 2:15-16 furthers this point when it says: “The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ” (ESV).
While we can obtain a mind like Christ’s, in purity, hope, and love, this does not mean that we will know and understand all that He does. He is still God, and we are not. He is still all-powerful, and we are not. His ways are not our ways, and that is for a reason.
Should We Know It All?
When I was younger, I used to believe that if I knew everything that would happen to me, my life would be better. If I always knew exactly what God wanted me to do, where He wanted me to go, and what He was doing, my life would be easier. I look back now and laugh.
As an anxious person, not only would I find all of this information to be overwhelming and paralyzing, but I’m confident that if I knew it all, two things would happen: one, I would not rely on God to get through them, and two, I would try to convince Him, like Moses or Jonah, that I was not the right person for whatever task He called me to.
In Jonah 1, beginning in verse 1, Jonah runs from God because of his fears. God calls him to a high-caliber task, but Jonah doesn’t feel up for the journey. Even later, when he runs back to God, he becomes angry at God for His grace, the same grace that was given to him earlier in the chapter.
Countless people in the Bible tried to understand God. From Moses to Aaron, Job, and David. But if I’ve learned anything from their interactions, it’s that God cannot be entirely understood. And while we can have a close fellowship with Him, He will still be above and beyond anything we could fully comprehend here on earth.
What I Have Learned About How I View God
So what have I learned about how I view God?
I’ve learned that while God is a loving Father figure. He is also so much more than I will ever be able to grasp.
He is unpredictable.
He is unlikely.
He moves in ways we’d think He would and ways we wouldn’t.
He is a quiet, still whisper but also a mighty and powerful storm.
He’s an oxymoron to those who don’t believe in Him and a mystery to those who do.
Today, I am learning that I have many more years of learning to go. I may not understand Him entirely, but I’m choosing every day to grow closer to Him through prayer, reading the Bible, studying, meditating, and experiencing Him as I live. And something tells me that it’s okay. This is a life-long process.
How I view God is still growing. I anticipate your view of God is growing as well.
I want to know Him as a Father.
I’ve known Him as a Friend.
And I want to know and view Him for all that He is. Even if it takes an entire lifetime to experience that.
The predicted and the unpredicted.
The known and the unknown.
However He is, that’s how I want to know and view Him.