Perspective, wisdom, and the changing nature of faith
“When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”(1 Corinthians 13:11, NIV)
God in far-away places
To say that my childhood view of God, heaven, and all things holy was a bit off theologically would be an understatement.
I’m sure I was told time and again that God was personal and that He even lived within my heart. Still, I reasoned that, for all practical purposes, God was more like a fictional character who lived in a far-away land called heaven, and if I did the things required of a young boy, like eat my vegetables and wear my stocking cap in the winter, I would go there someday to live with Him for all of eternity.
My hypothesis on God was only substantiated by the strange rituals of corporate worship. At church, we spoke of the things of God using a foreign language of “Thee” and “Thou”, all the while fearing that God might just “smite” us if we got fidgety during the hour-long service.
We sang songs at church, predominantly composed by people far older than my grandmother. Even her singing was drowned out by the huge pipe organ that resided in the balcony. Then, once the pastor told us we could leave, we all went back to behaving like we did the six other days of the week when the pastor wasn’t around.
Yes, God, to the childhood version of me, was distant, aloof of the things that were on my mind — baseball cards, cartoons, and candy cigarettes. And I guess I was okay with that.
God with us, God with me
Things change over time and with perspective.
The Bible, which, as an adult, makes so much more sense to me, speaks of God’s name as Immanuel, which simply means “God with us”. The message of Scripture is clear — God loves us so much that He chose to become one of us in the life and person of Jesus.
God, who seemed so distant to me as a child, now resides in my heart. I guess He always has. It just took some time for me to come to terms with it.