I was raised in a culture where mothers were worshipped and fathers respected. Fathers were authority figures, providers and disciplinarians, whilst mothers were fountains of love, compassion and affection. Growing up, my parents taught me that God loved me “seventy times more than my mother loved me”. This message was meant to reinforce the magnitude of God’s love, but it didn’t resonate. After all, I knew my mother’s love and witnessed it on a daily basis, through all she did for me. But I had never seen God, let alone experience His presence, so I was ambivalent about how much He actually cared for me.
Later, in early adulthood I had a difficult episode during which I detected a comforting presence, whilst praying. It was an ephemeral encounter, but sufficient to spark an interest. Suddenly, the possibility of God being real intrigued me. I wanted to know more about this God, who had momentarily lifted the veil to reveal Himself. I wanted to draw closer to Him and understand Him. I had so many questions. Who was He? Did He confine Himself to issues of paramount importance or was He interested in everyday minutiae? What did He think of the injustices in the world? Was He as puritanical and solemn as often depicted or did He have a sense of humour? What did He think of me? Did He think of me?
All journeys have to start somewhere and mine began with books and religious study, but I soon tired of the theory. I was impatient for God to communicate in practical ways and I decided to experiment. I picked a trivial issue (e.g. whether I should accept an invitation to go away that weekend) and asked God for His thoughts. Once I’d asked the question, I did nothing. I didn’t respond to the invitation, made no plans and simply waited. I knew God would respond because I’d learnt (from my mountain of reading) that if we take one step towards God, He will run towards us. And so it proved. Within days of asking the question, I received a call from my parents, requiring my presence home that weekend.
It’s difficult to articulate the sheer euphoria, which accompanied the realisation that God was communicating with me. Early success emboldened me to embark on increasingly ambitious projects and I began to seek God’s guidance on more significant matters (e.g. new job / home). A response always arrived, usually through unexpected mediums and rarely what I wanted – disappointment was as prevalent as delight. I began to learn important lessons, including the absurdity of jumping to conclusions as events unfolded and how God always took the long view. Through these marvellous experiences, I came to know God and understand the immensity of His love for me.
I long for you to know this God – a God who is accessible, uncomplicated and liberated from dogma. His love is like an infinite ocean; each undulating wave racing forward to embrace you. Leave the safety of the shore and dive in.