What comes into your mind when you think about God? AW Tozer said those thoughts are the most important thing about you. By the end of this post you might realize you’ve been scared of a God that doesn’t even exist. It was true of me.
I spent a chunk of my life believing that God was less of a loving Father, and more of a mean football coach who only cared about winning. As long as I ran the play right, He’d keep me in the game. But if I messed up…
Most moments in my life were motivated by fear of the mean football coach. The fears droned on each day:
“Don’t sin, he’ll hurt you and leave.”
“If you’re happy, God isn’t.”
“God likes it when you suffer.”
These were not the thoughts of a cynic or atheist. I was a pastor with a master’s degree from a world-class seminary. In other words, I knew better. And that was the rub.
I still believed things about God that simply weren’t true.
The lies kept me from experiencing true freedom. Then the night came. It was a toss-and-turn night. One where you begin to doubt every square inch of your faith. As I flopped on the couch, there was no more pretending. I was scared and mad at God. Denial just made it worse. That’s when a gentle reminder came by way of Hebrews 4:15-16,
“For we do not have a high priest [Jesus Christ] who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
I took it as a personal challenge. My thoughts exploded on a journal. They weren’t polished or theologically sound. They wouldn’t have landed me an “A” on a midterm, but they lurked in my heart and needed to be exposed.
After an hour of sketching those sentences, there he was. The Mean Football Coach god – staring at me from those pages. In my heart, I heard a Voice of freedom.
“I hate that ‘God’ too…because He doesn’t exist.”
It was right there in front of me the whole time. I just didn’t see it. The “God” I was afraid of was not the GOD of the Bible. And, because He wasn’t the God of the Bible, He didn’t exist. He was a lie. A phantom planted in my heart and nurtured by the Enemy.
The next pages were filled even quicker as verse after verse flooded my mind of the True and Living God. I reminded myself…
- All the ways of God are steadfast love and faithfulness. (Psalm 25:10)
- God made me complete in Christ and has forgiven all of my sin (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- Perfect love casts out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and Christ has already taken my punishment. I don’t have to be afraid. (1 John 4:16-18)
- If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31-32)
Wait, God is FOR ME?!!! I had memorized and said it for years, but never believed it. He loved me before I loved Him. He was for me before I was for Him. He is a close Father who hurts when I hurt and works all things (even hard things) together for my good.
Are you for Christ? It’s only because He was for you first.
So, when the toss-and-turn nights come, remember that the mean football coach isn’t real. Repent and believe the Gospel.
Stare those anxious thoughts down with the same grit as King David. When everything was going south and fear heightened and enemies surrounded, he clung to one thought:
“This I know, that God is for me.” Psalm 56:9
Knowing that God is for you can set you free.
What comes into your mind when you think about God? It is the most important thing about you.