“Will God be mad at me if I…”? She was being pressured to convert to another religion to please the man who says he loves her. As I waited for the oil change I had come there for, she sat on the floor, waiting for her own car to get whatever it came there to get. She listened to me and my friend talking to each other about Jesus and then timidly asked her question. I could feel my heart breaking.
Or maybe that’s what God’s heart feels like when it breaks.
So we moved from our chairs to sit down on the floor next to her. As the story came out of parents pushing her to find a husband online and a man she’s never met from another country who promises love and marriage, she assured us that Jesus is her Savior and that would never change, it would just be to appease the man’s family. But she kept coming back to her question. “Will God be mad at me?”.
I wish I could say that I told her all that her heart really wanted to know in those few moments, but I didn’t. Truth was spoken, we prayed for her and invited her to church and then the oil was changed and our car was waiting. Just a few minutes of time with a woman with a question. And I wondered if hearing that God loves her and has so much more for her than what she wants to settle for would be enough to change anything for her.
But I think that encounter on the floor wasn’t so that I could give a woman the answer that would change her life. It was so that I could recognize the question that has haunted my own heart and that led to God’s purpose for me this past year.
“Is God mad at me?”
Beginning last August, this year brought a sifting, which brought that question to the surface, revealing what I believed about God after 25 years of walking with Him.
Because the lie that always answered my question was “Yes”.
And I feel like a newborn calf, trying to walk out of a lie and into truth. It’s awkward, and I fall down a lot but one baby step at a time my legs are getting stronger.
I will leave behind me the lie that I am the child of an angry God…
…a God who loves me if I act right but who will turn away from me if I sin.
Left in the dust of my feet will be the constant weight of feeling that I have disappointed God and must perform well to gain His approval again, only to lose it the next time I step out of line.
But I am not running yet. I’m still stumbling,trying to get my footing in this place of grace.
Still tap dancing for God, trying to earn His favor and love by performing well.
And in the dancing and turning and circling and walking on wobbly legs, I am learning and God is teaching and fresh truth is filling my lungs and I am taking real breaths for the first time.
God’s love for me is wide and deep and it doesn’t move. His affections are for me, all the time, and He always wants to be with me. He knows me better than I know me and still loves me and wants me and calls me His own.
I am my Father’s child and my Father’s heart is good. His love and affections are mine forever and nothing will change that truth. He sent His Son to die in my place because He wanted me to be with Him. His desire is not that I tap dance for Him, but that I trust Him with my whole heart.
And I am breathing deep this revelation of love that silences questions and the sounds of tap shoes.
Trusting God is an endless journey through the heart, I am finding. I did trust Him. I do trust Him. In many ways, for many things. But with the sifting, has come new revelation. Revelation that everything is an issue of trust.
Because Adam and Eve did not trust God’s goodness and that has passed into the hearts of all of mankind.
The root of sin is a lack of trust in God. Unbelief.
God allowed my heart to be sifted to separate out the unbelief that was keeping me from abundant life. To reveal that although I knew He loved me, I didn’t really trust His love to stay put even on my worst days, when I couldn’t tap dance to save my life.
And that is God’s point to this story. Tap dancing didn’t save my life in the first place. Love saved my life. Dying saved my life. His love, His dying.
He died because He loved me in the midst of my sin. He died because I couldn’t tap dance my way to Him and He wanted me then and He still wants me now and the desire of His heart is that I would trust that truth.
And to finally realize that I can’t dance anyway.