So much of the "Christian struggle" seems to be a battle of seeing God as He truly is: GOD.
And not just Who He is as God, but the type of God He truly is.
So much of God's interaction with the Israelites throughout the Old Testament was focused on reminding them that He is GOD.
Such a simple concept that can be so easy for even Christians to forget on a daily basis.
But the significance of accepting or neglecting this seemingly basic point cannot be overstated.
If God truly is the God He says He is throughout Scripture, then that means:
everything is under His control (Colossians 1:16-17)
His plans and purposes can not be disrupted (Job 42:2)
His plans and purposes are ultimately for my eternal best. No matter what my feelings or emotions or eyes lead me to currently believe or to doubt, God will never give me something that is not for my best, nor will He withhold something from me that is for my best. (Romans 8:28)
Once I accept Jesus, there is literally nothing that can separate me from Him. Nothing past, present, nor things to come can separate me from His love for me. (Romans 8:31-39)
He will provide EVERYTHING I ever need. He is my provider. (Matthew 6:25-34)
He is greater than ANY trial or difficulty I will encounter. (John 16:33)
But what about when we doubt these things and see God as something different than He truly is? This is when we go astray.
It can be so easy to falsely believe God is:
Not in charge, and only slightly above earthly kings, rulers, and myself
Not really in control nor aware of what I am going through
Resentful or bitter towards me
Not actually aware of what is ultimately best for me
Prone to change or leave me at any point
Very far from me (not lowly & accessible)
Indifferent towards me
I have come to recognize that when I believe any of these lies, I am extremely vulnerable to then:
Try and keep some distance between God and myself out of fear that He will lead me to do something that's not for my best
Become overwhelmed by fear and anxiety because there are so many things that seem out of control and unable to be controlled by earthly rulers or systems
Walk on eggshells out of fear that God is just waiting for me to screw up so He can strike me down or rebuke me.
Falling prey to my emotions and feelings as my source of truth even though I have experienced them lead me into things like porn, social anxiety. and feeling like my value hinges upon my ability to get people to value or approve of me.
So who is GOD?
His greatness is truly unsearchable (Psalm 145:3), but some of the items God has personally most reminded me about who He is throughout Scripture over the past year include:
His GOODNESS - which is often demonstrated by:
How He is slow to anger; He often provides His people with chance after chance to turn back to Him before He "gives them over" to what they choose in living apart from Him. He even builds reconciliation directly into His covenant terms (Lev 26:40-42) and provides details on what the people should do if/when they fail to obey the law so that they can be brought back together with Him. All of the heroes of the faith appear to have screwed up at some point in their life or repeatedly, yet God is patient with them.
How grace always comes before obedience (He gives the law to the Israelites AFTER He delivers them from slavery). God CHOSE Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, etc.. None of them had done anything to merit or deserve God's blessing upon their life. It was solely God's GRACE. Making it clear that there is nothing we must do in order to earn His love for us. He even vowed to protect Cain after Cain had murdered his own brother Abel out of jealousy (Gen 4).
When Moses rattles off excuse after excuse of why he is not the right man for God’s assignment for him, God is very patient and responsive to Moses reminding him of who He is as God, and even giving Moses signs to bolster his faith. God even grants Moses' request for someone else to accompany him by giving him Aaron. He does the same in 2 Kings 20 responding to King Hezekiah by granting his request for 15 more years of life.
How RELATIONAL He is:
He responds to the cries of His people and even "changes His plans" in response to the pleas of Abraham on behalf of Sodom, and to the Israelites on behalf of Moses in Numbers 14:20, and again to Moses' cry that the leadership burden is too great so He provides 70 elders in Numbers 11. Mark 18:20 highlights how when the disciples went out, God worked WITH them. In Matthew, 11:28-30, Jesus invites us to come to him, and to enter into His yoke.
He makes provision and cares for the poor and the least of these, even as far back as Leviticus.
How He is not just saving us FROM something, but calling us TO something:
God gives us purpose and meaning in the privilege of being His image bearers. Repeatedly, Paul opens his epistles by declaring he was "called" and "sent" by God. Consider the prestige there can be in WHO you are sent by. There was prestige when I was an intern of an NFL team. No prestige in my title or position as an ‘Intern’, but prestige in who I worked for. How much more is the prestige in us being "sent" by the God of creation. Ephesians 2:10 states that we are God's masterpiece, created anew in Jesus SO THAT we can do the good thing He planned for us long ago.
Taking this even a step further, God equips us with His very presence - the Holy Spirit that provides us with all wisdom, guidance, and boldness to accomplish great things for His glory.
The HOPE He provides us:
We are not bound to the hopelessness and futility of this fragile life, but there is a coming day in which ALL will be set right, and there will be no more weeping, only perfection - something so great we cannot even comprehend.
I close with the same question that Jesus spoke to the Apostle Peter in Matthew 16:15 - “Who do you say that God is?”
How we answer that question changes everything.