I’m just going to say it: I’m afraid to meet God.
Those words kind of sting. I was raised a Christian – a real one, not a we-go-to-church-on-Sunday-with-a-hangover Christian. As a kid I knew Jesus. He was my best friend, my hero. As I got older I learned about my own sin and how much I needed His friendship.
And as an adult I crashed into Him in a candle-lit apartment after being raked through my own degenerate mind with merciless brutality. Satan and I had quite the tango going before God cut in. I’m not being cute. I was a pitiful mess and I can say with confidence that God met me on the carpet. He was gentle and He was strong. He gave me hope and light and peace without which I could die. I truly believe that. I could be dead.
But then life kicks in again and Satan… well, he’s a really great dance partner. He has some smooth moves anyway and the allure of that somehow comfortable, yet bruisingly quick-paced step is too much for me to resist. I try. But once again I feel so far from the Light. I know the truth like I know my ancestry. I’m familiar with the anecdotes and the names, but I lose touch with the depth and width, the tragedy and triumph.
And the thought of encountering Him is scary. He is this tremendous force and I’m this pitiful mess. He carries more might and power than my imagination can muster with all it’s resources. Nothing compares to Him. I know enough of Him to know that.
And what if He asks me to give it all up? What if He takes everything away? What if He punishes me or casts me away? He is God, you know. He can do what He wants. And what if He doesn’t really want me?
What if all I choose to believe in dry spells – that He loves without fail, that He is quick to forgive and slow to anger, that He restores and renews, that He wants good for His people – isn’t true?
What if He doesn’t really love me?
Until I approach Him I won’t know. And the approaching is so hard sometimes. Though He has never given me reason to doubt His love, I’m fearful nonetheless. And yet, I long for Him. Because He is my love. He is my hope and my strength. He is where I am safest, though sometimes least secure. He is my God and I love Him. I love Him.
I love Him and I want Him even if He doesn’t want me. If all those fears are true and I grovel to a turned back, I will still be glad for the moment in His presence.
And the truth is that He does love me (and you). And that He takes me as I am. But the truth is buried in a tangle of lies and the only way to get to it is facing the fear of whatever will come from a meeting with the Most High.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest 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. (from Hebrews 4)
Grace is not just a note sung by the worship leader. Grace trades me cool peace for my hot mess, not as a theory but like a friend who says "don't worry, I'll clean up the exploded toilet while you have some lemonade on the portch." All of us cronic hot messes say, "thanks."