I am delighted to feature this blog by fellow author Margot Starbuck (is that a cool last name or what). Margot’s new book Not Who I Imagined releases now!
When You Can’t Trust a God Who’s Like Your Father
The first time someone told me that my relationship with God was probably a lot like my relationship with a father figure—the dad who relinquished me for adoption, the one who drank too much and left when I was six, or the stepdad who also drank too much and left when I was fifteen—I thought they were crazy.
“Of course God’s not like those deadbeats,” I reasoned. “God. Is. Good.”
I was sure of it.
If I’d been forced to give God a face back then, it probably would have looked like the warm affectionate gaze of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s dad, the one played by Michael Landon on the 1970s Little House on the Prairie TV series. Or like my sweet steadfast faithful Grandad. Or maybe my pastor.
Of course I didn’t think God was like any of my earthly fathers.
If only it were that simple.
I discovered that our earliest experience of caregivers teaches us what to expect from an “other.” It’s how we learn whether someone will feed us when we’re hungry. Or comfort us when we cry. It’s how we learn whether or not we’re worth showing up for. Worth sticking around for. Worth loving. Dr. James Loder says that these formative faces actually prefigure how we will come to know God.
For a lot of us—with dads who left, or ones who died, or ones stuck in addiction—that’s bad news.
In my darkest days, when I was clinically depressed and altogether undone, God spoke his truth to my deep places. Four words.
These four words changed everything:
I am for you.
In that moment that I raged against God and demanded to know who in this life had ever come through for me, I suddenly realized that the father of Jesus who’s revealed in the gospels isn’t some absent parent who abandons his own son. He’s not a cosmic child abuser who cavalierly offers his kid. In fact, as those four words penetrated my deep places, I came to lay hold of the fundamental difference between Jesus’ Father and the caregivers I’d known.
The human caregivers I’d known had been for themselves. And I don’t mean that they were any more selfish than I am today. I mean that—bound by addiction, violence, mental illness, human limitation—they weren’t able to be for me the way that I needed them to be. Stuck, they were for themselves.
In the moment I heard those four words—I am for you—I got it.
I understood, at last, the difference between the two.
I’d been to church. I’d attended a Christian college. I’d gone to seminary. But it wasn’t until that moment, of my deepest pain, that I understood—if only in part—the meaning of the Trinity.
God, the Father of Jesus, was not for himself the way my caregivers had been. He wasn’t the kind of father who bailed on his son, who sacrificed his son. Nope. This Father gave his own life out of his love for me.
Does that math make sense?
That’s what the Christian doctrine of the Trinity means. It means that the Father sacrifices his own life out of love for me. Love for you. Love for his son. He doesn’t throw us under the bus. He doesn’t leave us. He dies for us.
It was the moment I began to believe that I was worth loving.
That—as you might imagine—has changed everything. Marriage. Friendship. Everything.
Are you willing to pull back the mask you’ve given to God—one with glassy distant eyes, or one that’s disappointed, or one that’s angry—and see the Face that is true? Are you willing to reject the lie that God’s face is anything like the fleshy ones you’ve known? Are you ready to look into a face that delights in you?
Margot Starbuck’s newest book Not Who I Imagined: Surprised by a Loving God gives readers a peek at the face that is true.
Fun book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n18djvjd29A
PRIZES for sharing! (available to YOU and to your audience!) Anything you or your audience shares during March about Not Who I Imagined, on social media, tagging @MargotStarbuck—which includes sharing YOUR post—AUTOMATICALLY enters sharer to win $150 Amazon Certificate. (Two entries if you share link to Amazon!) More here: http://margotstarbuck.com/share-fairy
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