I believe that from time to time God puts us in a position, or a particular circumstance, to see how we will react to it; to see how we’ll “handle it.” I want to tell you about one of those “circumstances” I found myself in just over a year ago…
Who is God to you?
In February of 2008 I attended a spiritual retreat in Portland, Oregon. This retreat wasn’t affiliated with any particular Christian denomination, but it was all about God.
In a small conference room, desk-like tables had been placed as such to form a square horseshoe, if you will. All of the tables were facing one another, allowing for face-to-face exchanges and sharing between those involved. The moderator of the session sat at the open end of the horseshoe, quite obviously facing those in attendance.
Our first “session” was on the afternoon of the very first day. We took a seat around the horseshoe, and one by one, stood up to introduce ourselves and give a bit of background information, a mini “Bio”, so to speak. To my surprise, (and dismay) only three of the fifteen attendees were lay people; the remainder were ministers from various churches around the country! I didn’t know about the other two “regular people”, but I felt a bit intimidated by the vast amount of theology that surrounded me. Undaunted and determined, I promised myself to share whatever was on my heart and on my mind, because as you know by know, that’s just the way I am! It didn’t take long for me to voice my opinion…
The first question posed to our group was “How do you describe God, and who He is to you?”
One of the ministers, a lady from New Jersey, was the first to raise her hand. She introduced herself as a “recovering Catholic” who had finally found God and was answering her “calling” in life. At that time I was still a practicing Catholic, and I found myself wondering “What is a recovering Catholic? What is she recovering from? She almost sounds as if she were handcuffed, gagged, and beaten. What could’ve been that bad?”
I tried my best not to pass judgment on this individual (her opening remarks had rubbed me the wrong way a bit), and refocused on what she was saying at the moment.
It only got worse…
“God doesn’t treat everyone the same way. He shows favoritism.”
I was thinking, “What? What did you just say?”
“God isn’t available for everyone.”
This time, the voice in my head was a little louder… “You’re a minister? Of what?”
“God is cold and uncaring towards some people.”
My mind was screaming at me to shut this woman up! The intensity of my outrage was such that I blocked out whatever the lunatic was saying as I frantically was waving my hand to be recognized by the moderator. Realizing that I was about to blow a gasket, he calmly looked at me and said “Is there something that you’d like to add?”
Thankful that I had been given the opportunity to speak (I think I would have interrupted anyway), I took a deep breath, regained my composure, and with as much calm as I could muster up (which wasn’t much), went on a rant…
“Look lady, I don’t know what God you found in the Catholic Church, or whatever God you found in your present church, but you found the wrong God! My God is caring and compassionate. My God is comforting. My God gives me strength. My God is love. My God is good. My God gives me shelter from the storms. My God has always been there for me. And while my life hasn’t been easy, I know that without my God it would have only been worse. I love my God.”
As the last word escaped my mouth, I became aware of the fact that everyone in the room was staring at me. I almost apologized, not for what I said, but the manner in which I had said it. Almost.
I scanned the “horseshoe”, looking directly into each set of eyes that was looking at me, especially the recovering Catholic and added, “I’m always eager to share my thoughts, but I’m usually not this opinionated. It’s just that I wasn’t mentally prepared to be put in a position of defending God at this retreat.”
So much for being intimidated! The remainder of the retreat was amazing, so much so that it will be the topic of a post at a later date.
A soldier of Christ
In August of 2006 I made a vow to be a soldier of Christ (see The Tattoo). At the time I thought that being His soldier would involve spreading the Word of God, sharing the news of what He has done in my life. I think now that when I am talking about Him I am being more of a “messenger”, if you will. And as you should know by now, talking about God and His goodness has become my favorite topic, my passion.
But I have to tell you, that day in February, in that room, surrounded by those people, all eyes on me…standing up for my God…that day I truly became a soldier of Christ, and I’ve been one ever since. Don’t talk about my God in a derogatory manner…not in my presence. I’ll beat you down, or I’ll go down trying. He loves me unconditionally. I love Him unconditionally. It’s that simple.
How about you?
For a moment there, I was gonna challenge you to be a messenger of God and a soldier of Christ. For some reason, I think that would be unfair of me. Instead, I’m going to ask you to plant the seed in your mind that you could be one, if not both of them.
I’ll go out on a limb and assure you of this:
You “go to bat” for God, as His messenger, soldier, or as both, and you are going to absolutely amazed at what He is going to do for you!
See you next Monday.