– What is God like? How can you get to know Him?
“(…) We know that no idol is real in this world and that there is only one God. For even if there are “gods” in heaven and on earth (as indeed there are many so-called “gods” and “lords”), yet for us there is only one God, the Father, from whom everything came into being and for whom we live. And there is only one Lord, Jesus the Messiah, through whom everything came into being and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:4-6). In this chapter I want to write about our wonderful and loving Father who is in Heaven. I would like to point out that He is the Perfect Father. Imagining our earthly fathers we know how often they miss the ideal… They are not always the ones we would like to have. We cannot always say: Dad, I owe you a lot. We do not always want to do this. We do not always want to come to him and say, Dad, I love you. But this Father is different. This Father is unique because He is God, omnipotent and merciful.
How do I imagine Him? Let’s consider a situation where a child comes to his father. When my little son comes to me and says, “Dad, you know what? I love you and like you”, he confesses his feelings to me in this way. I believe that in the same way I can address my God. I try to read the Bible every day. I listen to various sermons, I pray, I nurture thoughts about Him. My feelings for the Creator are well expressed in the lyrics of a song from the Polish band Arka Noego (Noah’s Ark): “It is not hard at all when I know that at the end of the road I will meet you. Although there were so many difficult days, every day closer to heaven is worth living! There is so little time, so few days. Our heart beats just for a few moments. I do not know if I will know who you are, but I know you will recognize me.”
And how do you keep in touch with God? Do you ask Him persistently, just like a child who comes to his father and persistently wants something from him? When my son comes to me and asks for something, I do not always succumb to him. I say: “Wait patiently, and for sure you will get what you want; collect money so you can buy it yourself.” But he comes and asks, and asks … And we too sometimes should behave so – come to the Father and patiently ask Him. And one day He will surely answer us.
One day I called my friend Marcin to whom I had been sharing the Gospel for a long time.
“Marcin, how is your relationship with God?” – I asked him. Then he replied:
“You know … well … God did a little in my life. Do you remember that day when we came back from mass near the Belarusian border together? Then we stopped at the gas station, and you told me that this cigarette should be the last one in my life, asked me to put it out and throw it into the bin. Then I threw out all the cigarettes, together with the box. And then I decided that I would not smoke anymore. We prayed and God listened to my request. I did not take any more cigarettes to my mouth since then. And now I’m struggling with other sins. You know, when I look at my life, I think that God does not want a man like me to be His child. I really sin too much, I’m not fit, I will not end up in Heaven …”
“Marcin, who is giving you such thoughts? How do you think? Are these fully your words, ones you wanted to say?” I asked.
“Well no, I would like it to be different,” he replied.
“These words were given to you by Satan. It is he who wants you to think that you do not deserve it, that God and His relation
ship with you are not for you. The Devil really wants us to live in that conviction. He wants us not to read the Scriptures. Tell me, how often do you read the Bible?”
“Well … I do not read the Bible at all”, admitted Marcin.
“Reading the Bible and sincere prayer – talking to God – is the first, fundamental step to strengthening relations with God.” By reading the Scriptures, we realize that God is the Father. He in the Old Testament was seen as the great God, sometimes menacing and severe. But then came Jesus and said, “The person who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). And what was Jesus like? Nice, quiet, obliging. Although he also yelled at the merchants in the temple. He could tell harsh words to the Pharisees when He thought they were necessary. By reading the Bible, we realize what God is like. He is a good father bringing up his children in love. I urge you for the first step that you make to be the decision that you will read the Bible daily.
“Okay, I’ll read. In the evenings,” agreed Marcin.
“Marcin,” I said, “in the evening it means as if we have nothing else to do anymore, and then we reach for something to read. In the evening you can read some books, newspapers, magazines for good sleep, but contact with God should not take place only in the evening. Also, if you want, of course, but not just in the evening. Yes, the blessing is needed for the night, but more so for the day! Try to find time to open the word of God in the morning. It takes just 15 minutes to read a few chapters. Get up 15 minutes earlier and before you do anything, open the Scriptures and read what God wants to tell you.”
For the next few weeks I received a text message in the morning when Marcin sat down and opened the Bible. It was also a motivation for me not to forget about my personal morning devotions. If we do not make good contact with God in the morning, and we will only pray quickly – what are we expecting? That we can overcome all the hardships of the day ourselves? That we can manage ourselves? In this way we show that God is not needed. It should be so that our requests and our problems are in the hands of the Father, according to what He himself has commanded us. It should be like a morning phone call to a friend. It should be a moment when we say, “Father, today I will have a hard, or maybe an easy day, but I would like to experience it without unpleasant surprises. And if they happen, I would like you to remember about me. Stay with me and help me find solutions to all the problems that are waiting for me.” Then God is with you throughout the day. All problems disappear, even when you are driving, and suddenly at this intersection you were supposed to have an accident, but it does not happen – because God, Your Father, has predicted and arranged so that you avoided it. You drive through a housing estate and a child runs out in front of your car, but you are able stop and do him no harm.
Once upon a time, driving in the evening from Warsaw to Stalowa Wola, I was tired after a day of work and numerous kilometres of driving. I wanted to get to the place as soon as possible. I was driving at a speed of about 150 km/h outside a residential area and suddenly a dog appeared in front of my car. Different things could have happened – at such a speed it would take a moment of inattention to have a tragedy. I was driving a new gift that God gave me – a class A Mercedes. Fortunately, it was a tipper-resistant model, that is, resistant to the ‘elk test’. I only remember that I hit the brakes and went to the left lane, then saw the dog jump to the left lane, so I came back to the right one and so I missed it. A moment later, when I analysed the whole situation and my heart palpitated, I realized that everything was happening in slow motion. As if God knew I was tired and gave me time to make the right decisions, slowing down time. God is amazing! He can arrange everything to such an extent that even in seemingly tragic situations, He helps us. When God could be far from us and sleep, He is with us and He watches. Sometimes we make very unreasonable decisions, and yet He is with us. He comes to us and writes the script of our life step by step. In the Book of Malachi (1:2), God says, “I have always loved you!” What does it mean “I’ve loved”? To our loved ones we say “I love you”, I use that phrase in relation to my wife, my most beloved being on earth. I do not remember, though, that I ever said to her: “I’ve loved you, my wife.” “I love you” – I said more than once. “I have loved you” is more than the expression “I love you”, but I do not recall that I would tell it to her. And God comes to you and to me saying, “I’ve loved you.” What an incredible love must it be!
God often cries over us, over our mistakes and errors. But He is also often by our side, watching and leading us. In Jeremiah, the second, third and fourth chapters, God shows us how much He loves us and how much He has regretted that the Israelite people and Judah continued to oppose Him, after He had ordered them to follow His law. Some quotes from this book read: “I remember the loyal devotion of your youth, your love as a bride. You followed me in the desert, in a land that was not planted” (2:2). “I brought you into the fruitful land to eat its fruit and its good things. But you came in, defiled my land, and made my inheritance into an abomination” (2:7). “Your wickedness will be punished, and you will be corrected due to your acts of apostasy. Know and see that it’s evil and bitter for you to forsake the Lord your God, but the fear of me is not in you, – declares the Lord God of the Heavenly Armies” (2:19). “I planted you myself as a choice vine, from the very best seed. How did you turn against me into a degenerate and foreign vine?” (2:21). “How can you say, ‘I’m not defiled. I haven’t gone after the Baals.’? Look at what you’ve done in the valley. Know what you have done. You are a swift young camel galloping aimlessly; a wild donkey accustomed to the desert, sniffing the wind in her passion. When she’s in heat, who can turn her away? None of the males who pursue her need to tire themselves out, for in her month they’ll find her” (2:23-24). “Will a young woman forget her wedding ornaments, or a bride her attire? But my people have forgotten me days without number” (2:32). “Look up to the barren heights and see. Is there any place where you have not been ravished? You have sat beside the road, waiting for them like a nomad in the desert. And you have polluted the land with your fornication and your wickedness” (3:2). “Have you not just called out to me, ‘My father, you are the friend of my youth – will He hold on to His anger forever, will He persist in his wrath to the end?’ Look, you have spoken and done evil things, and you have succeeded in it” (3:4-5). “How I wanted to treat you like children, and give you a pleasant land, the most beautiful inheritance of the nations.’ I said, ‘You will call me, my father, and won’t turn back from following me.’ Instead, like an unfaithful wife leaves her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, house of Israel, – declares the Lord” (3:19-20).
The result of Israel’s disobedience was the invasion of the Babylonian people and the abduction into slavery by the Babylonians. God suffered due to that. Scripture says God cried over His children! The same way He is crying over us when He wants us to go right and we go left. In the book of Jeremiah (31:3-7) He says, “I’ve loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I’ve drawn you with gracious love. I’ll again build you, and you will be rebuilt, Virgin Israel! You will again take up your tambourines and go out to dance with those who are filled with joy. You will again plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria where planters had planted and defiled the fruit. For there will be a day when the watchmen will call out on the hills of Ephraim, ‘Arise, let’s go up to Zion to the Lord our God. (…) For I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn. (…) Nations, listen to this message from the Lord, and declare it in the distant coastlands. Say, “the One who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.”
The Holy Scriptures are full of such beautiful secrets, and Satan tries very hard for us to be unfamiliar with them, because there is found our hidden hope, our goal to which we must strive. So answer today, Brother and Sister, how are you spending time with God, our beloved Father? How much time do you devote to Him? Do you trust Him? Do you give every day into His hands? Answer honestly how is your relationship with God today? Do you address Him only when you need something? Like a son living in a dorm and calling his parents for financial support. Or maybe you say, “I can handle everything myself.” Do you appreciate His help at all?
“Lord, thank you that you are with me again when I need you. For every new day when I wake up. When I pray at night, you are listening patiently. And when I sleep heavily, You hold me tight. And thank you for all the good days, and in the sadness you are there. You always comfort me and forgive me for my mistakes. Thank You. Take my hand, take my heart to Your heart and take it to the end of life I want to always be sure that You have chosen me. Thank You. You have risen. Thank You. You promised me that I would live forever” (Arka Noego – „Nigdy nie zostawisz mnie”) (translator’s note – “You will never abandon me”).
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