I love that all-powerful, all-knowing creator God is also an intimate, patient, loving Father. That the One who spins a caterpillar to butterfly, knows my heart. And he cares. Just the other day he reminded me again.
I was reading through the Bible by my fireplace when I hit a road bump. I said to God, "You know, this is why I don't like reading through the Old Testament. Some of this I just don't get. You're hard to understand. Like killing the first-born Egyptian sons. What is that?" Yeah I actually said that to God. I know. Seems a little nervy on reflection. But he didn't turn me into a pile of dust.
Awhile later I put my Bible aside and picked up one of my devotionals and turned to the page where my bookmark was. It was about how Moses requested to see God's glory (Exodus 33:18). And it read, "We were created and designed to live in the glory of God, which is the manifested presence of Jesus… Sin caused us to fall short of God's intended target… Many get stuck on the harshness of the Old Testament stories at the expense of seeing the reality of God's goodness that was displayed throughout history—much like a rose among thorns—but is now more fully manifest through the lifestyle illustrated by Jesus. It is, and has always been, about His goodness."—Bill Johnson, Encountering the Goodness of God, 90 Daily Devotions. What are the chances of me reading Day 72 on this day of questioning this very thing?
Then in the evening I was returning from working with seventh graders at church where we talked about how God calls them a masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). (Now isn't that cool? That's a message I love to hear for myself and for these precious young people. That applies to you too dear one. God created you as a masterpiece!)
But anyway, back to the harder words in the Bible. Walter Hudson was speaking on my car radio. I almost never listen to this station in the evening and opt instead for praise music. But I had forgotten to change it. His show is about local politics and happenings. But here is what he was saying this night (paraphrase).
"You know I used to listen to stories in the Old Testament when I was young and think, 'Wow, this is harsh.' God wipes out almost everyone in the flood. Then he destroys Sodom and Gomorrah. And later he does all these terrible things to the Egyptians, including killing their first-born sons. I had a really hard time with all this. But now that I'm older, and I look around at our world, I have a completely different perspective. I look at how upset I feel when one person offends me. And I'm a sinner, only saved by Christ's shed blood that covers my sins. And we have a perfect and holy God without sin, who millions offend every minute of every day of every year. I look at what's happening even in our own country, and I get it now… We don't even care anymore to defend babies, the least of these. And now I wonder, 'God how do you withhold your hand of judgment? How do you show such restraint?'"
I suddenly found myself shouting "Amen." Then I couldn't help wonder how God has been so patient with this world...and with me.
Later I remembered how I was taught years ago that before the age of Christ, when people's hearts were already so hardened and God knew they would never turn to him, he would show his power so others may recognize him. ("Whenever God slew them, they would seek him; they eagerly turned to him again." Psalm 78:34) It was also a way to roll back evil to give humanity a fighting chance to survive and not wipe each other out completely.
I can't say I understand it all. We never will completely this side of heaven. But what I have learned through the years is that God is good, and he cares about us. Our Father God is patient. He is intimate. So much so, that on this particular day of questioning, he was patiently reminding me of his goodness. And he cares about you just as much. He has promised that when you seek him, you will find him.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2nd Peter 3:9
From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. Acts 17:26-27
The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him. Lamentation 3:25