YOU MUST BE LIKE A CHILD TO ENTER
October 2nd, 2009
Once immersed into a life of an adult, it is very difficult for us to be like 'children' with God. I know because it was the hardest thing I had to do. I didn't know how to be a 'child' when I had never been allowed to be a child while I was growing up. For me to even think of myself as a child was foreign to me. When I started my walk with God, I didn't want to go back to crawling because after all, I was an adult. I had too many burdens to carry, and too many responsibilities to be a child. I also didn't have a clue as to why God, the Almighty creator of the universe, would see me like a child when I was a grown woman, wife and mother. I figured that the scripture that said we must be like a child to enter the kingdom of God was only a figure of speech. How can anyone go back to being a child when they were in an adult world, doing adult things?
So, like most of us, I took my walk with God as seriously as an adult should and set upon to take that responsibility seriously. I would work hard, study hard, and do the best that I could. I was going to do everything in my power to make sure that I did the right things, and be my best. Notice anything? I, I, I, I, was going to do it myself! After all, weren't we supposed to do all we could to be good, better, holy, and upright, and blah, blah, blah. This is what we all do. We try so hard to shed our bad habits, and control our thoughts, and do good deeds, and on and on. The fact that we are frustrated shortly after we start our walk is no mystery to me. Unfortunately, that is what we do simply because we are so used to thinking and believing that unless we do things our way, it will not get done.
God is totally the opposite. He doesn't want us to 'become' like a child, literally, or on our own. We obviously cannot become like the children we think about in our minds. We are to become like children, spiritually. To recognize that we are to become reliant on Him to get us to that place where we are looking to Him for guidance, and direction. We are to remain adults in our world, but not in His. One of the hardest things for me was to learn how to wait on Him to give me direction and then having done all I can, to see what He would do. In my personal adult world, I had never relied on anyone to help me, or guide me. When I had, I had been disappointed, so I stopped that and looked only to myself and what I could do for myself. So, here I was learning how to walk with God and all I think about was what I needed to do next, and having stumbled, felt guilty and repented on a daily basis. I must have been a real drag to God! How I must have wearied Him! I know I did because He once showed me a quick vision of Himself.
I saw Him walking, take a step forward and dragging His other foot. I asked Him why was dragging His foot. He said, 'because you are hanging on to my other foot and won't let me walk! Get out of the way so I can walk and you walk behind me.' I was relentless in my pursuit to be 'good' enough to receive His blessings, and heading in the direction I just knew He wanted me to go. All without His input! This went on for not just a few weeks, months, or days, but for years! I suffered untold misery because I kept failing in all I did in my attempted walk with God. I found it too difficult and of course, we often misinterpret scripture and think that we have it right. 'Narrow is the way, and few there be that can enter in'. That scripture came to haunt me almost on a daily basis. I finally told myself it was just too narrow for me to walk through. I got so discouraged and I would go many days without trying to walk the way I thought I was supposed to. It seemed that the more I tried to learn, the less I knew. I was frustrated and was feeling for myself. Maybe I would never be one of the chosen few, or a real child of God. I would just never be good enough!
I felt at once frustrated and angry at the same time. Frustrated that I didn't seem to be getting any help from God, and angry for believing that I, just a lowly human being, would or could walk with God. I was nobody, and I had reached for the stars when I couldn't even reach the tree tops. I felt foolish and disappointed, and looked at my daily life and realized that this was all I would ever have or achieved. I would do something wrong and felt guilty, ashamed, and like I had fallen down the ladder I thought I had climbed, even if just a rung or two. There was just too much to learn, to know, and I felt too much was expected of me. Me, me, me. Sound familiar?
Then I would hear a hymn, a verse or someone say something, and once again I would get my hopes up and try again. This time, I thought, I would try harder. I would pray more, read more, and go to church more. I would do this and that and this time I would try harder, and work harder, and on and on I would go. I had to be 'adult' about this, I told myself, and not give up. Sooner or later I would get the hang of it and then things would be just fine. All I had to do was try harder, work harder, and if I repented enough, asked forgiveness enough, and cleaned myself up enough, then I would be able to walk the way I was supposed to. This was very much like a toddler who is trying to learn how to walk for the first time. While I was thinking about this, I realized that when our own children first attempt to walk, we are right behind them in case they fall, or tip over. We want them to learn to walk, certainly, but not get hurt in the process. I realized also that God was doing the same with me. He wanted me to learn to walk with Him, and He would pick me up as many times as necessary. But I didn't learn this right away, after all, I was trying to be 'adult' about all of this.
All this time, I realized years later, must have made God very sad. I was trying to drag God into my life, and in the meantime, He was trying to bring me up to His territory. I wanted Him to approve of me, and didn't know He already did. I was trying to get Him to love me, and couldn't see that He already did. I wanted Him to approve of my walk, and all He was trying to do was realize that it was His walk and I was to follow, not lead. That is what I was used to as an adult, self reliant, self sufficient and independent. All admirable qualities as a human, but not as a child of God. These were the very things that were keeping me from getting closer to God. But I was not to know it until much, much later, after many painful experiences. Not all necessary, unless you are a brat, and I was. I was a brat with God because I needed to know what it felt like to be one, finally, and find acceptance anyway. I was never allowed to be a child when I was a child, and I didn't know how much anger I had in me. But believe me that anger came out of me, in the worst way, and all directed at God.
When I say I was angry, I mean I had rage! Whenever I felt frustrated, angry and completely lost, I burned a Bible! Yes, I burned a Bible or any book about the Bible that I had handy. I tore them up, threw them against the wall, and have a yelling tirade addressed at God. No, He never lowered himself to my level and yell back. He simply did what most parents do when their child is throwing a tantrum; he waited until I was too tired to go on and then leave me alone to my guilt feelings at what I had done. I would do things that I knew would only make me feel guiltier later, and then my pride would get in the way and I could not ask for forgiveness. I would yell, 'You don't like the way I am? Too bad! You made the mess I am! Aren't you happy with what you created? You want credit for everything, well, take credit for who you made too!' Oh, I had a vicious tongue! I dared Him to kill me, to take me out of this world. I also told Him that if He didn't do something, then I would. I contemplated suicide, and even felt happy when I saw it as my way out of this 'crappy world you made', as I would yell at Him. I told Him that He had created a world that even dogs should not live in, and if
He truly loved us as He claimed, then He had failed! He was not as infallible as He claimed to be, and furthermore, He hated us so much that all He wanted was for us to bend at the knee, cower before Him and be slaves to Him. He was an ego maniac, and self absorbed! There is a lot more than that, which came out of my mouth.
Of course I did all of this in private. After all I knew that it was 'acceptable' to talk that way to God, and as long as no one else knew, I was okay. The fact that He heard me didn't bother me one bit. I wanted to sling some shots, to hit the bull's eye, I wanted to hurt me the way I was hurting. Of course, I didn't know that I was hurting, nor why. God knew, and that is the only reason why He allowed me to rant and rave. I am sure of this, or He would have smote me with a bolt of lightening. I am not sure He would have, but if He had, I would not have blamed Him. I was a nasty brat, and it would be a long time before I realized that I was an angry child in adult's clothing. I was behaving the way I had wanted to when I was a child due to the emotionally and physically dysfunctional family I had had as a child. As a child, I had not been allowed to yell my rage at the way my parent treated me, so now, I had my chance, and yelling at God, was my outlet. This was my opportunity to let all my rage out, all my hurt and anger came boiling to the surface.
Am I sorry that I did all of that? No. God knew that it had to come to the surface, and who other than He could have withstood it? No human, certainly. I would have incinerated any human with my anger and rage. Of course, I didn't feel it was rage, I felt justified. If I was trying so hard to get to know God and He was hiding from me, then it was not my fault! Nothing was my fault! It was all His! Can you imagine any human who would have withstood that type of rage? I couldn't. Wisely, I stayed away from other people during this time because I knew that I was not fit company for anyone. And I am sure they are grateful!
I felt like a hypocrite when I talked to people and they talked about God. They kept gushing that they really loved God and I realized that many of these people were either just parroting what others said, or they really had no expectations from God. Mostly because they felt they had no right to expect anything from God, after all, they were all just sinners. But if they had any anger against God, or felt frustrated, they hid it well and just said what was expected of them. I couldn't do that, so I said nothing. I kept my feelings and opinions to myself. Mostly because I didn't want to undermine anyone's faith with my anger and frustration. But I didn't see any faith at work. I really wondered if some, if not most of these people, were not just repeating what they heard others say, and really had no personal walk with God. I didn't know, and I was not about to judge them. I had enough to deal with trying to walk my own personal walk.
People always looked and acted 'shocked' if I told them that I had yelled at God, and they would say, while clutching their throats, 'Oh, I could never get mad at God!' My answer was, 'You will when you meet Him'. What I came to find out was that most people, if they had 'religion', was purely surface belief. They went to church, tithed, went to prayer meeting, if that, and if they had any questions about God, they kept silent because they believed that we 'had no right' to question God. Whenever I heard that, I would say, 'then what does He mean when He said, 'come and let us reason together'? They didn't want to know, so instead they just chose to believe that if they didn't understand something, or couldn't answer a question, it was meant for them to stay ignorant about what God wanted, meant, or was trying to say. I could not accept that. My frustration was due to the fact that I was taking God at His Word. Too many people, I realized, were more than willing to accept that we were meant to understand nothing and just continue walking along in ignorance and without question. I couldn't accept that either. There was not an ounce of logic in that kind of thinking. This kind of thinking told me that they would prefer to believe that we were meant to be robots, than being creations who had been given 'free will'. One pastor told me, 'Why, I am not going to question my God (pronounced Gawd) about anything.' And I am sure that made him feel more holy. It told me that this man had no clue as to what God had given us through the death of His only begotten Son.
My question was; 'How can we know God if we don't question, learn and use our minds, our God given minds, to ask questions? How could we love anyone we didn't know? How can we know anyone if we don't ask questions and get to know them? Why would it be different with God? It could not be different because if nothing else, God is a logical God. How, I asked myself, could God expect me to love Him if I didn't know Him? I had no answer except 'He can't expect that'. And I believed that this was true. So I really found myself surrounded by Christians who questioned nothing, studied nothing on their own, wanted no answers that would disturb their status quo, and didn't want to be nudged from their comfort zones. I even met one woman who considered herself a staunch Christian who didn't study the Word, but felt it was enough to sleep with the Bible under her pillow! This, she believed, protected her family. That plus lighting a candle near the picture of the Virgin Mary. I said nothing to her, speechless. I could not and will not argue with ignorance. She was a very nice lady, and a very loving one, but I knew that this was not going to give her a free pass with God. She simply chose to remain ignorant about God and hoped that God would do what was best for her and her family simply because she placed a Bible under her pillow and lit a candle everyday. This in exchange for the death of His only begotten Son? I didn't think so, but I said nothing to her because she, I knew, didn't want to hear this. I learned long ago not to cast pearls before swine, and none are so blind than those who 'will' not see.
The more I observed other 'Christians', the more I realized that many were 'playing' at being Christians, but I found very few true 'Believers'. Most Christians don't really believe in what the Word has to say. They say they do, and this is mental, but true faith is of the heart. Believing there is a God is certainly the beginning, but if we believe there is a God, but one who doesn't mean what He said, what then do we have to base our faith on? An idea? God gave us His Word so that we could see Him act on it. He promised in advance what He would do, before He did it. When we believe His Words, His promises, before we see them come to pass; that is faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. Waiting until we see His promises come to pass before we believe, is not faith. If we don't believe, then the only other option is fear. I had to admit that there were many times when I had fear, and if I was really walking with God, where did that fear come from?
Another thing I realized was that before I had even attempted to know who God was, I wasn't aware that I had fear. In fact, I felt that I had always been fearless, so where was this fear coming from now? Later, much later, I realized that I had lived in fear before, but I had not recognized it. Now I was aware of it, and that brought more fear. This was God's way of showing me that I had lived in fear and accepted it as part of my life because I didn't know of my inheritance as a child of God; 'For I have not given you a spirit again to fear', and I knew that I had been living a lie, unawares, but living it none the less. I had lived in fear but unawares and now that I was aware, I didn't know how I had survived. It is said that ignorance is bliss, and I don't know who coined it, but whoever it was, they didn't have my best interests at heart. Now these many years later, I know that I am fearless because the absence of fear in my life is palpable. I fear nothing because of God, and I know that is the reason His Son died for me. But I had a long ways to go before I really knew and accepted this. I was still a child in adult's clothing, fighting Him every step of the way. For how could I trust Him, whom I could not yet seen, when I didn't trust those whom I could see and touch? They had betrayed me, and though they claimed to love me, they had not shown it to me. How then, could I trust someone I could not yet see, hear or feel? Honestly, I knew that I had set what I thought a very hard road for God to hoe. He had to convince me that what He said was true because I had been damaged enough to demand it. And if that was not acceptable to God, well, that was too bad. That was my attitude and I was not about to back off. I had not put me here on this earth, and if He had a plan for me, then I was not about to do His work for Him. I didn't know that when I thought this, I was finally on my way to seeing what He was trying to tell me. But I was a tough customer. I had no faith in anything other than what I had seen, and known in my past.
When I look at the beginning of my walk with God, I am reminded of the boy Willie in Little House In the Prairie who spent most of his days standing in the corner of the class room. If God did things like that, I would have spent the first 8 or 9 years in God's throne room corner! I was appalled at all the anger in me. I knew I had anger, but who knew that it was enough to fill the Grand Canyon! Or i would listen to some pastor on television and when he said something about God's goodnes and blessings, I would sit on my couch, with my arms crossed and say, with a sneer, 'Yeah, right!' But it finally dawned on me; I would not stop reading the Bible, or watching some pastors. Why was I doing that, I wondered? 'Because you want to know me.' How smug, I thought, but you know what? I felt a twinge of hope in my heart that He was still there, even though I was being a horrible brat! Any parent with a brat like that would have spent most days washing out their mouth with soap.
What really surprised me was the day I knew that I was trying to push God away as hard as I could because I just knew that He too would abandoned me as others had. I wanted to be the one to do it this time. I pushed hard, and very ugly, and I can tell you this, that without the freedom to do that, my anger would never have been healed. So when people tell me that they have never gotten angry with God, or riled against Him, they haven't yet allowed Him to show them what is inside of them. All of us, let me repeat that, ALL OF US, have a past that contains some anger, betrayal, or some other hurt, no matter our background, social or financial status. God will not allow us to keep ignorant of it because He cannot reside in a spirit that is wounded. He heals as He grows us into closeness with Him. I had even forgotten some of the hurts, but my spirit had not. It was still wounded, and God knew it. So He reminded me of it, not to hurt me but so that I could admit it and then forgive and let it go. And He does it quickly.
One day He asked me, 'Can you forgive the men who killed your baby sister?' Several years before, my baby sister was kidnapped, raped and murdered, just one month after she graduated from college. She was 25 years old, and my favorite. We were very close. I said, 'No, Father, I am sorry, I can't forgive them.' The 3 men had been captured within a month and will never be free. They were 19 and 20 years old. They will spend the rest of their lives behind walls. The very next thing God asked me was, 'Will you let me do a work in your heart so that you can forgive them?' I said, 'Yes, I can do that.' Not ten minutes later He asked me, 'Now, can you forgive them?' Just ten minutes! I sensed my heart and I said, 'Yes, I can forgive them now.' Just that quickly and you know what? I feel compassion for those young men now because obviously they were walking in darkness and it will cost them their whole lives. They have been in prison for over 30 years so far, and will remain there. I never think about them anymore.
Not with anger or hatred. They took someone very precious to me, but I know where she is. I wrote about her, in an indirect way in 'The Seed Planter,' I will make a blog out of that too.
Anyway, on with my brat saga. I was such a horrible child for the first few years that I can tell you that I am, or was surprised that God didn't just walk away from me. In my heart I knew He wouldn't because I knew some scriptures that I used to my advantage! 'I will never leave you nor forsake you.' And this is what I was trying to find out if it was really true or not. I knew what I was doing! Brats are great manipulators! But all this time He was dealing with all my wounds, scars and hurts. My soul, where our emotions are, was in tatters, shredded almost. I didn't know it. Most suprisingly, I found that I was carrying a lot of hurt from words that had been hurled at me by my siblings, who did it in ignorance. I learned that words are carriers, of pain or balm, of love or hate, and because God created the world and us with Words, words were important. Though I had never been the kind of person who had purposely said words to hurt someone, I became more aware of what I said, and to internally forgive others who didn't know what words did, and attempted to harm me. 'Father forgive them for they know not what they do.' Jesus spoke these words as He was dying on the Cross, and He was not just talking about the soldiers that had nailed Him to the Cross. He was speaking about all of us through the coming centuries.
It is said that if all that Jesus spoke was written, the world would not be able to contain all the books. But everything that is written in the Bible which He had said, has so much meaning that I have been kept on one verse for over a month some times. When people say that He could not have been rally a human man, I remind them of the shortest verse in the Bible, 'Jesus wept.' People do not realize that He had to be a human man to go to the Cross, otherwise we could not be expected to 'die to self.' Jesus died physically, we have to die to our flesh, to self. He was raised in Spirit, so we could be too.
Of course I didn't know a lot of this for the first few years, and I was allowed to rant and rave, but I would not stop studying. Now, this is not what everyone will do, but I was so hungry for God that I spent 12 to 16 hours a day in the Word. I did this for 3 years. This was just my walk. I don't think all of us are called to do this. I was driven to do this. I could not stay away from the Bible. Most of you will think that I might have lost my mind, but after 3 years, it was like all of a sudden a cage was opened, and I didn't walk out, I flew out. I don't say that with any self pride because it was a very painful time for me, and if I had not clung to God, I don't think that I could have lived through, spiritually. I remember one time that I had stood in front of the picture window of my living room, rooted and immobile for nearly 5 hours. I could not move because I was being spiritually attacked. I knew this was why God had given me the desire to study as long and as hard as I did. A few moments after I was able to move, God showed me a quick vision. There were angels all over the roof of my house. I thought to myself, 'I must be losing my mind.' But just a few minutes later a friend of mine called and said, 'Did you know that there are angels all over your house?' I said, 'Yes, I know.' And I went out for a walk for the first time in months.
The enemy does not like to have any of us sell ourselves out to God. But unbeknownst to me, that is what I had done. I used to spent time fighting the enemy, until I learned one thing. He had been 'spectacularly beaten, and defeated at the Cross.' I no longer spend time coming against him. Jesus did that for me, and He won! The Holy Spirit told me one day, 'don't waste your tiem and enerby on him, he no longer has the power over you. Spend your time with God, and remember the Word. Use it and you will not have to waste energy or time with a foe who has been defeated already.' I learned that many Christians spent a lot of time coming against the enemy, even though they knew that he had been defeated already. I asked myself why. For this reason I wrote 'Cast Down Vain Imaginations.' Which I will put onto another blog by the same name. I came to realize that I had stood frozen at that picture window was because of fear. Once I stood there for those hours, and wouldn't give in to that fear, I too had defeated the enemy's attempt at trying to deceive me. For this reason I wrote 'Cast Down Vain Imaginations', at http://berdie-castdownvainimaginations.blogspot.com/
Does he ever come to me again? Sure, but now I don't waste my time fighting him. I simply say, 'You want to talk about how unworthy I am? Let's go to the foot of the Cross and discuss it.' He always declines. While I was busy being a brat, I am sure the enemy was jumping up and down with joy, but the fool didn't realize that God was healing me, cleaning me up, and growing me up. How much time do I spend warding off the enemy now? None. I learned that if I walk with God, and hear God, and talk to God, the enemy cannot be near me. God and the enemy will not share any space where I am. If God's territory is where I am, the enemy cannot be. It is as simple as that. Don't give the enemy more power than he has. He has none, unless we let him. That is why I wrote the blog above.
I had so much fear that the enemy would take what I had, and hurt me because I was trying to walk with God that I lived in fear and felt I had to constantly pray, and read the word, otherwise God wouldn't protect me. These are the lies that the enemy uses against us, IF WE BELIEVE THEM. I learned that the enemy cannot do us any harm unless we believe his lies. But until I learned that, I was just a confused brat who wanted to find a reason not to believe in God because that would excuse all the bad stuff that I had lived through. So I fought Him tooth and nail. I tried to find reasons to walk away, and when I did, I was miserable. What I acted like, was like a child who was an orphan and had been given to foster parents and was afraid of being rejected.
One day, after having got angry and I can't tell why now, I refused to read the Bible, I refused to pray, and I refused to talk to Him. I watched television, and would not give Him one thought. After 3 days, I felt so lonely without Him that I just sat on my couch watching television and I felt tears sliding down my cheeks because I missed Him so much. But, oh, I had so much pride that I would not give in. Finally, after crying for a few mintues I said, and believe this cost me, I said, 'I miss you so much'. Immediately I had a vision. He was sitting on my couch and I was sitting on His lap! He said, 'I was always here, I never left.' Then the water works really started! I found out God has no pride. Not when it comes to His children. Jesus was whipped, dragged through the streets, and nailed to a cross, He was 'humiliated' so we would have to be. Jesus crucified was the picture of humility. And I learned that being humble meant, 'to walk under the hand of God' so He could protect us, and guide us.
I had a lot of pride, but false pride is really just a symptom of fear. Anger is a symptom of fear. Many emotions are based on fear. I was afraid of learning that God was not really there, or that He didn't really care about me. So, I was trying to give Him reasons to reject me, or disappoint me, because that was all I had gotten from people. I wanted to make sure that I did the rejecting and disappointing first. I was going to be the villan first! You see, I was being like a brat, a child, but that is not what God meant when He said, 'You must be like a child to enter the Kingdom of God.'