"The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness." Psalm 145:8 (AMP)
It never took us kids long to figure out that our dad was angry. He'd bite his bottom lip, then ball up both of his hands into fists. In nanoseconds, all five of us would escape out the back door, where we hung out in our 10-acre, wooded back yard until the eruption was over.
Unfortunately, many times we didn't make it out the back door fast enough.
So years later, after I became a believer, the concept of a kind, loving heavenly Father was hard for me to grasp. The words my pastor spoke sounded wonderful, but deep down I couldn't escape a vague sense of God's anger directed toward me.
Even when I read my Bible, the words often sounded angry to my ears. And every time I failed, messed up or fell short, I felt myself the target of God's anger.
And I failed, messed up and fell short all the time.
Initially I didn't understand that my background skewed my perception. It was as if the atmosphere of anger in my childhood home had warped my brain cells, and my experience blocked the truth of who and how God really was.
Truth began seeping in after a conversation with a friend. I shared, through hot tears, that I desperately wanted to please God, but it felt like He was always angry with me. My friend said, "God is not angry with you, Julie. He loves you, and He understands you."
This truth was the beginning of a massive boulder of a lie dislodging from my heart.
For the first time it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, it was possible God wasn't angry with me. But things didn't change overnight. For me, it was a gradual unfolding, a slow process as I grew to know and understand God's loving character more intimately.
When I stumbled upon today's key verse, tears stung my eyes again, but this time in a good way: "The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and abounding in mercy and loving-kindness" (AMP).
The fact that God is slow to anger, that He offers forgiveness when I confess my failures and that He does not hold my shortcomings against me in fierce anger, revolutionized not only my brain, but my heart.
As if that were not awesome enough, that same verse declares that God is abounding in mercy and loving-kindness toward us. The word abounding means "to be present in large numbers or in great quantity; to be fully supplied or filled." As I meditated on this verse and dared to believe God's truth, the massive boulder that had lodged in my heart as a child slowly began to move.
In reality, God is nothing like my past experience had shaped Him to be.
He is our gracious heavenly Father who loves and accepts us as we are, patiently bearing with us, teaching and guiding us as we grow and mature in Christ. He is not mad at me, and He is not mad at you. God is for us, not against us (Romans 8:31). He has good plans for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11), and He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3).
Sometimes our past experiences shape us in ways we don't fully understand. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, God reshapes us, transforming our hearts and minds as only He can. Though it often takes time, God's truth can work its way deeply into our hearts and completely dislodge boulders of lies. And oh, how He loves to roll away the stones!
God, where boulders of inaccurate perceptions are lodged in my heart, please remove them and bring truth. I am thankful that instead of regarding me in fierce anger, You forgive and patiently lead and guide me. I'm so grateful that You are slow to anger. You are a loving, gracious heavenly Father, and I adore You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY: Jeremiah 31:3, "God told them, 'I've never quit loving you and never will. Expect love, love, and more love!'" (MSG)
Romans 8:31, "What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?" (NLT)
REFLECT AND RESPOND: Do you seem to sense that God is angry with you? Ask Him to enable you to hear His gentle, loving, true voice. Ask Him to give you an accurate perception of who He truly is.
Write down Jeremiah 31:3 and read it to yourself several times daily this week. Know that the same God who will never quit loving you is not angry at you!
© 2014 by Julie K. Gillies. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries 630 Team Rd., Suite 100 Matthews, NC 28105 www.Proverbs31.org