What if our understanding of God, faith, and the Bible is constructed out of our own wounds?
Recently I’ve been reading ‘Present Over Perfect’ by Shauna Niequist. It’s a great read for those of us who are people pleasers, those who search for worthiness in a full schedule, and those who say yes but really mean no.
There’s a chapter in the book where she talks about how she was challenged by a pastor to see herself in the stories of the Bible. Specifically, she was told to place herself into the well-known story of Peter walking on water in Matthew 14.
She talks about how she always saw the focal point of the story as rebuke and failure when Peter sinks. When understanding that story, she saw the message that Peter was not good enough, because that’s the lens through which she views most things in her life.
On this particular occasion though, she saw the story in a new light. She saw a story of rescue. Jesus rescues Peter while he’s sinking before he even says a word to Peter. Even after Jesus rescues him, he doesn’t scold him, but rather asks, “Why did you doubt?”
Is it possible that the stories we read about in the Bible or hear about in church are only understood through the lens that we’ve lived life?
If, like Shauna, we’ve had a tape playing in our heads that we’re not good enough, anytime we hear neutral or negative feedback in a Biblical story, we will see a God who thinks that we’re not enough.
Or maybe it’s not worthiness we see the stories through, but connection. If you’ve been abandoned, heartbroken, or let down your whole life, maybe you see Peter’s story as a lonely page in the book of being singled out. None of the other disciples cheered him on or consoled him when he fell.
Maybe your lens is one that believes for the best and gets the worst. You always force yourself to take the positive attitude towards a problem, but you end up down and defeated. To you, Peter may have had a fleeting hope that his faith was deep enough to really keep him afloat, but yet he sank into the wallows of his misfortune.
I wonder what other accounts of Jesus you’ve read or heard that you’ve misunderstood because of your past or tendencies? Maybe God is looking to speak to you honestly, lovingly, and wholeheartedly, but you can’t hear it because none of those adjectives resound with the life you’ve known.
Next time you open your Bible to read or walk into church expectant for an account of God that can change your life, pray that God can remove the scales of the past, of ingrained habits and attitudes, and of prior pain that could be holding you back from knowing a loving God. Pray that He helps you understand Him as He is, not as you have seen Him.