Running From God
I had a dream; an interesting dream, hence why we are here today.
The dream began; I was standing at the door of a restaurant surveying around and looking for a place to sit. There were several tables in the restaurant with only two occupied: one table was all packed (with about five people) while the other, sat a man who looked like he was in his fifties. (And I gotta tell you frankly: I do not know how age looks like on people. I just do not know how else to describe how the man looked like (which is not even relevant to this post anyway).)
Anyway, I walked up to the table where the man was sitting solo, pulled up a chair and sat next to him. That I would say, was an odd thing for to me to do because knowing myself, I would look for an empty table at a corner somewhere – where I would be far away from any noise or distraction – and ensconce myself there.
Anyhow, the man was friendly and welcoming. I can’t quite recall exactly what kind of pleasantries we exchanged because no sooner had I sat down than he got up to welcome other arriving customers. I perceived he was the manager of the place.
One man from the table where about the five people sat, walked up to my table and sat next to me. He greeted me and proceeded to say to me, “I hope you don’t mind, I would like to ask you something.”
And I said, “sure.” Then he asked, “did that man talk to you about Jesus Christ?”
I responded and said “no.”
Then he said, “okay…thank you.” Of course I found that to be an odd question to ask.
He then proceeded to tell me that the reason why he was enquiring was because he was investigating some accusations. Apparently, the manager (assuming he was the manager) spoke to people about Jesus Christ; he shared his faith with customers while at the restaurant and this man – I’ll call him Mr. Inquisitor going forward – wanted to raise the issue up with management – or so I think.
Now, I didn’t know whether Mr. Inquisitor was a waiter there, a concerned eyewitness or even just an irritated customer. If you’ve had dreams you know how fuzzy they are at times. However, I could tell he was extremely unsettled and distressed over the matter.
I proceeded to enquire why he was so disturbed about the issue. He responded – almost – with an inward fierce anger saying that; firstly, he thought it was inappropriate, and secondly, because the man (manager) was filling people’s heads with fairy tales; brainwashing people with lies about the Bible.
He told me that he had read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and that he found it to be a bunch of stories – old man’s fables; – possibly even myths that people came up with to find some reason to cling to for hope.
Now I’d like to just pause here and state that I do not know much about what is going on here: if the manager was – for sure – sharing his faith with people at the restaurant or even having Bible study sessions with a group of people at the restaurant. Heck, I do not even know whether the restaurant had polices over such – which prohibited sharing of beliefs with people/customers. Remember, I am in a dream…
All the same – just to weigh in my opinion – as a Christian, I honestly do not have any issue with other Christians sharing their beliefs with other people; especially if they are led by the Holy Spirit to do it. Likewise: Muslims, Hindus, Mormons, Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and all other devotees of other religions … because in all honesty, God has given us all free-will and the conscious agency to belief or disbelief. Only, I will not be bidding any of them Godspeed when they show up at my doorstep.
So, if the manager was telling people about Jesus Christ, well…big deal. But if he was doing it in violation of restaurant policies then that was wrong on his part.
That is me.
Anyway, I remember telling Mr. Inquisitor guy just before I woke up, that it could be that the reason he caught nothing but myths from the Bible was probably because he was approaching it the wrong way.
When I woke up, I reflected long and hard about that dream and instantly, got the topic for my next blog post.
Many people today are running – even hiding – from God just as Adam and Eve did in the garden of Eden. People run from God for various reasons. We have are all running from God. I have also run from God. Jesus used three reasons in the parable of the sower:
Hardness of Heart
These are they who are running from God because they are wiser than God. Like Mr. Inquisitor, they are bothered by the fact that there are people who believe in God in an era where science seems to have ‘all’ the answers. They are flustered with thoughts of how people can still believe in God despite the hard circumstances they have faced and still face in life.
They regard it as ridiculous, archaic, and even pitiable. Like Karl Marx, they reason it must be opium. They almost feel sorry for those deluded folk who have to use God as a crutch to explain meaning and purpose in life. And so like Mr. Inquisitor, they fault-find, revile, and accuse. With bravado, they go about bringing to the fore their wisdom and intellect on philosophy, science and medicine, theology, ethics, etc.
What is more, they endeavour to illuminate the religious by enlightening them through philosophical – even scientific – arguments on the naiveté of seeking after “invisible kingdom(s) to come.” Inarguably – without downplaying their intellectual prowess – they are able to hold long dialogues, even give lectures on theology sans much challenge.
But the truth of the matter is that they are running away from God and masking it by putting up a hostile front to try and hide the evasion. Most times, you will discover that such people have probably experienced some rough seasons or even gone through tough experiences in life. Or others, possibly out of haughtiness, just enjoy causing dissentions and divisions. Whatever the reasons behind the façade, the fact still remains that they are running from God.
And because God cannot – and shall not – commune with the wisenheimer, because God opposes the proud, He stands afar off.
God has never – at any one point – regarded highly any human wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1 (AMP Bible)
19 For it is written, I will baffle and render useless and destroy the learning of the learned and the philosophy of the philosophers and the cleverness of the clever and the discernment of the discerning; I will frustrate and nullify [them] and bring [them] to nothing.
20 Where is the wise man (the philosopher)? Where is the scribe (the scholar)? Where is the investigator (the logician, the debater) of this present time and age? Has not God shown up the nonsense and the folly of this world’s wisdom?
21 For when the world with all its earthly wisdom failed to perceive and recognize and know God by means of its own philosophy, God in His wisdom was pleased through the foolishness of preaching [salvation, procured by Christ and to be had through Him], to save those who believed (who clung to and trusted in and relied on Him).
The tragedy – oftentimes – you will find is that majority of the aforementioned were raised with an influence of the church when they were younger.
Later, however, when they grow up, they find church to be irrelevant; even a bore. (PS: I wouldn’t judge them because I too, have been here). Others, after getting an education, discover philosophy and science as analyzed and dissertated by academic scholars, polemicists and great thinkers who argue against the existence of God and subsequently, get rid of the religious brainwash they were taught at Sunday school or at church.
And what is even more tragic is that some are not at all interested to pursue or know the truth anyway – even if God Himself came personally to reveal it to them – because their minds are already made up and their hearts: hardened as in the case of pharaoh of Egypt in the time of the Exodus.
So like Mr. Inquisitor, they approach the Bible with indifference and with a mind already made up that it is filled with conjectures, errors, old man’s tales; even myths. Thus, they never get anything from it because their hearts are closed off.
The Bible could never speak to a person in that frame of mind and attitude of heart…
Matthew 13 (Parable of the Sower)
19 While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside.
…because it is written by a person: the third person of the Godhead – the Holy Spirit – and He is a discerner of the intents and thoughts of man. He knows each man’s heart and his motives. And so He allows ‘the learned’ to read His writings from Genesis to Revelation but never at any one point does He speak to him in/through those pages. The reader only gets as far as theology and that is that – He neither touches God, nor experiences Him at a personal level.
He is ever-learning but never arriving to the truth. And all this – because He is wiser than God.
28 And base things of the world (what in the world is lowborn and insignificant and branded and treated with contempt), and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are (viewed) as nothing, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in His presence.
If one truly desires – from their heart – to know what the Bible is all about, one needs only approach it with humility and a child-like heart. Then and only then shall the Holy Spirit come upon that man; opening his eyes to behold the mysteries of God found in the Bible; as well as becoming in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
Offended by God
Then, there are those who are running from God because they feel as though God has grieved them.
They know that God exists; they have even experienced His love and His goodness at one point in their lives.
In their hearts, they are sure that He exists but due to – one, two, or three – difficult circumstances they have faced in life, their hearts have hardened along the way to a point they question the existence of God. Some, even, to the extent of refuting or denying His existence altogether.
“If God exists why does/why did He allow this and that to happen?” Thus, they feel as though God has injured them – or owes them somehow – and in their minds, register Him as an enemy. Psychology would call this projecting.
Now, in no way am I trying to look down on – or demean – the experiences and feelings of those who go through hard situations in life – having primarily brought them to God to help – only for God not to respond as they desired Him to respond or even in the time they desired Him to do it.
Trust me, I have been there.
Additionally, in no way am I also trying to slap them with the – borrow a leaf from Job’s life; he’ll teach you a thing or two about dealing with pain and suffering. That would be wickedness and even ungodly.
Pain is real; suffering is real and heart-wrenching and it needs to be expressed – in a harmless and non-toxic way – for any healing to take place.
What I mean here is that these unfortunate situations – more often than not – end up making ‘the aggrieved persons’ abandon their faith entirely or drift away from God altogether.
As a result, they run from God. And they justify their fleeing with the classic: “if He truly existed, I would not have experienced what I experienced,” or, “He would have prevented this from happening,” or, “there would not be the pain, grief, sorrow and suffering we see in the world today.”
Matthew 13 (Parable of the Sower)
20 As for what was sown on thin (rocky) soil, this is he who hears the Word and at once welcomes and accepts it with joy;
21 Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is offended [he is repelled and begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away.
There have been many times, personally, I have wondered how and why God would keep silent at the sight of brutal and inhumane wickedness; times of sicknesses and diseases that slowly eat away loved ones; droughts and famines that ravage communities…many times.
But I would be lying to you if I said that I have doubted His existence. I know that God exists; I know that He is good; I know that He is omniscient (all-knowing, all-wise, all-seeing), and I know that He is in control – even in the face of evil and suffering: corruption, injustice, famines, floods, murders, violence in the world, etc.
What it is, is, I do not always understand why He is oft-times silent (even when I know that He is perfectly just, perfectly loving, and perfectly merciful).
I trust Him. It is not always a walk in the park. But I trust Him because the alternative option is grief and hopelessness. I have realized with time that running away from Him when trouble strikes never solves my problems; to the contrary, it only augments them.
God is Inconvenient
Then those who are running from God because His standards are just too high and His ways: inconvenient.
Such are they who are living a life of disobedience to His word and as a result, they run from Him; afraid to face Him. In self-deception, they persuade themselves that God understands their disobedience. (This has struck a nerve.)
They are well acquainted with His demands, His word and His requirements. Most have already come into the family of God; but they are not willing to pay the price of discipleship.
They want the assurance of heaven but not the interference of Jesus in their lives. So what they do is obey – partially. Which is altogether disobedience.
They know – innately – that running toward God will mean giving up some of the pleasures of the world. But they are not willing to part with them just yet. Thus, they procrastinate; they put it off.
Yes, they are willing to give up certain pleasures – especially those seemingly gross in nature – but not all.
Like the distinguished guests who were invited for the great supper, they state that they have more important business to tend to first before they can sit at the Lord’s table. And they are neither willing to delay those things nor part with the comforts they bring.
Basically, what they are saying is, “Lord, these are things I enjoy doing, places I enjoy going to, company I enjoy being with, movies I enjoy watching; I have this child, I have just bought this piece of land; I have just married… and I cannot be able to make changes for Thy sake.”
Little do they know that they have been ensared by the world and its pleasures. They permit themselves to live in partial obedience to God and forthwith become slaves to sin. And since they do not know how to give up that lifestyle of disobedience – because they do not even have the power to do it – they cover themselves with religious practices: occasional praise and worship, giving tithes and offerings, church attendance etc.
They are sorrowful often and even repentant; but not the kind of sorrow that leads to heart repentance. Because they repeat the same cycle over and over again.
And because they are deceiving themselves and trying to deceive God while at it, they reassure themselves that all is well. “God is love; love is love, and love forgives and understands.”
Matthew 13 (Parable of the Sower)
22 As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit.
And so they run from God. And when God comes looking for them, they hide behind coverings of responsibilities, blame, even self pity. They find ways to cover their nakedness (disobedience); some even by blaming God saying that His expectations and standards are too high – even unattainable.
But Jesus still asks (like He asked Peter): “Do you love Me more than these (whatever it is we are not willing to surrender)?”
Running away from God never solves our troubles. In my experience, I have come to find that it only escalates the problem. It may probably be hard for somebody to believe the account of somebody else on who God is because there are so many counterfeits out here these days speaking ‘for and about’ God.
But what I have learnt is that:
God is good; and He will always seek us out even when we run (just as He sought after Adam and Eve in the garden). Because they too, were running and hiding, but God sought after them.
9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
And until we are willing to recognize like the psalmist that there is no where we can hide from God, we will carry on deceiving ourselves – thinking ourselves as wiser and smarter than God in our escapism – whereas we are the ones losing out on the opportunity to experience God and what He can do in and through our lives; even when we have gone through tough situations.
And I believe that is the reason why Jesus used the example of a child when He spoke about those who – with child-like natures – would inherit the kingdom of God. Because a child’s disposition is always trusting, always open to instruction, always open to correction and learning.
As grown ups, we are all running from God/have run from God at some point. I have also run from God. And it is only until we yield ourselves to Him, will we truly realize He has never been our enemy, but our most dear and sincere friend.
Those who have stopped running from God have yielded and allowed God to illuminate any darkness in their lives. For they love the light and desire to abide in the light forever.
Because in God, they have discovered the truest kind of peace and rest; one that neither man nor the world can give or take away.
Okay… Let’s just be honest, whenever most people hear anything about religion, their first reaction and instinct is probably to cringe or brush off the whole matter entirely.
Why? Most likely because it is a subject that is associated with extreme cases of fanaticism, it brings about a lot of conflicts and controversies, and even offends easily.
Religion is famously known for: manipulation, stagnation, repression, ignorance, bigotry and is too often a threat to liberty. And rightly so. I do agree. With that said, I recommend you to read two of my posts as well as encourage you to do a personal, extensive, and honest research on your own regarding this matter. Why?
As intellectuals (critical thinkers), I believe we owe it to ourselves to interrogate, examine, and ask hard questions regarding matters touching on faith rather than choosing to ignore them or even worse— follow blind faith. Click here for the first post.
Who speaks the truth with regards to a genuine, sincere and true relationship with God? Is it Buddha? Muhammad? Jesus? Zoroaster? Confucius? Joseph Smith? Guru Nanak? Krishna? Among others? Find out on this second post:
My heart overflows with a goodly matter; I speak the things which I have made touching the king: My tongue is the pen of a ready writer. Psalms 45:1
Thank you for reading this blog. Feel free to share it with others whenever and wherever.🙂