Are You Stuck On The Wrong Mountain?
I was recently given the opportunity to share my testimony with a group of teenagers. As I was praying and preparing for this, I felt certain I knew what God wanted me to talk about…
Until the night before I was supposed to speak.
Figures! (God is working on the perfectionist in me, as you’re about to see.)
As I was trying to process through the details of my testimony with God again that night to make sure I had it all down pat, He impressed upon my heart that He didn’t want to talk about those same details.
I said, “Ok, God… What are you trying to tell me? Do you want me to talk about something else?”
I heard, “Perspective.”
“What about perspective, Lord?”
I got out my journal and began to write. Hours later, He had shown me that yes, He still wanted me to share my testimony. However, first He needed to show me the misperception I had of Him that negatively shaped my life until He began healing it 3 years ago.
Growing up, I knew in my mind that God was (is) “good”. I heard it all the time at home and in church every week. I knew the story of Jesus and how His love for us led Him to the cross so that we might be saved.
Yet, when I thought of the Father, I got the same cold, hard image every single time. I viewed Him as angry and indifferent. I saw Him as the punisher, ready to pick apart my imperfections. In my mind, that image was very true and was the reality.
So God showed me 4 nights ago that it was this perception of Him that prevented me from ever being able to connect with Him. And I know I’m not the only one who has dealt with this. But where did we get this image?
I think many people have this misperception of who the Father is, simply because their earthly fathers (or another prominent male authority figure) had this same misperception and as a result, didn’t know how to represent Him well.
For many who read this, your father may have never even been apart of your life or if he was, he abused you. For others, your father may be apart of your life, and you “know” he loves you. But maybe when you were disciplined as a child, he acted out of anger and seldom showed you grace. Maybe he just didn’t know how to speak your love language.
And maybe this is the main reason why many view the Father as an angry man. This misperception will cause us to navigate life driven by the fear of punishment and the fear of rejection rather than the true fear of the Lord.
Keep in mind—I am in no way pointing a condemning finger at our fathers. As I said, they were probably never shown either. Nor was their father… Seriously, I think this can sometimes be traced back many generations. I think it’s safe to say that most have simply been doing the best they know how (Hebrews 12:10).
The way we perceive the Father will determine the way we perceive the reality around us. Therefore, if we have this misperception, it is only a matter of time before we become bitter at His discipline.
This bitterness is a result of striving to follow His standards yet never finding His favor, because we look for His favor solely in the circumstances around us rather than looking for His favor in the truth of who He is. We think we are being obedient, but because we are not motivated by our deep love for Him, we are really just performers looking for His applause. And when we receive discipline, it is coming through the hand of our Slave Master instead of our Loving Father in Whom we trust.
Let me say that again. Obedience will connect us to the Father. Performance will not. The difference?
- Obedience – You obey the Father with a joyful heart, even though it goes against what you want, because you love Him and have understood His good intentions towards you as a son/daughter.
- Performance – You feel you must be perfect and compete with those around you to earn His attention and acceptance. You are motivated by a fear of rejection and a fear of punishment. You are driven by legalism without realizing it; you know the “rules” but don’t know His benefits.
This distorted view I had of how to receive love spilled over to affect the relationship I had with every single male in my life, and I based my self-worth on whether I was accepted by these men or not. When I was rejected, this meant I didn’t perform well enough to meet their needs and desires. Further, this meant that I was worth less.
Not to mention that in the meantime, I was doing all these “things” I thought God required and was following all the “rules”, but when I called out to Him, He didn’t seem to respond. I felt even more invisible. Cue the bitterness….
Hosea 10:12 says:
“Sow with a view to righteousness
[that righteousness, like seed, may germinate];
Reap in accordance with mercy and loving kindness.
Break up your fallow (uncultivated) ground,
For it is time to seek and search diligently for the Lord
[and to long for His blessing]
Until He comes to rain righteousness and His gift of salvation on you.”
If we perceive God as an angry man, then we won’t be able to fully trust Him. As a result, when the Holy Spirit comes to till our hearts so that the seed of His Kingdom has fertile soil to grow in, we will instead resist Him and as I have said many times now, become bitter.
“For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems SAD and PAINFUL; yet TO THOSE who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness [right standing with God and a lifestyle and attitude that seeks conformity to God’s will and purpose].”
Hebrews 12 continues in verses 18- 24 to talk about two COMPLETELY different mountains. I believe that God has shown me that however we perceive Him will determine which mountain we are building our lives on. Mount Sinai is a place of terror and condemnation. Mount Zion is a place of freedom and celebration. So, how do YOU perceive the Father?
I challenge you to read Hebrews 12:18-24 today and ask yourself, “Am I still living on Mount Sinai, or have I made my way on over to Mount Zion?”
Pretty sure I want to be where the party is. My friend, know that the Father’s thoughts towards you are for hope and a future. Jesus came to give you abundant life. Don’t harden your heart at His discipline… Know that when He tells you “no” that He is just being a Good Daddy and is preparing you for blessings you couldn’t have dreamt of in your wildest dreams. He is a safe place to put your trust.