Recently, a friend of mine introduced me to a story he felt perfect explained the way he’d felt about God for some time. The more he shared it with me, the more I realized just how similar my own view of God had been for much of my life. I’m willing to bet many of you—if you’re being honest—will recognize some of your own views in the story that follows as well.
Good Old Uncle George
God was a family relative, much admired by Mum and Dad, who described him as very loving, a great friend of the family, very powerful and interested in all of us. Eventually we are taken to visit ‘Good Old Uncle George.’ He lives in a formidable mansion, is bearded, gruff and threatening. We cannot share our parents’ professed admiration for this jewel in the family. At the end of the visit Uncle George turns to address us.
‘Now listen, dear,’ he begins, looking very severe, ‘I want to see you here once a week, and if you fail to come, let me just show you what will happen to you.’ He then leads us down to the mansion’s basement. It is dark, becomes hotter and hotter as we descend, and we begin to hear unearthly screams. In the basement there are steel doors. Uncle George opens one.
‘Now look there, dear,’ he says. We see a nightmare vision, an array of blazing furnaces with little demons in attendance, who hurl into the blaze those men, women and children who failed to visit Uncle George or to act in a way he approved.
‘And if you don’t visit me, dear, that is where you will most certainly go,’ says Uncle George. He then takes us upstairs again to meet Mum and Dad. As we go home, tightly clutching Dad with one hand and Mum with the other. Mum leans over us and says, ‘And now don’t you love Uncle George with all your heart and soul, mind and strength?’ And we, loathing the monster, say, ‘Yes, I do,’ because to say anything else would be to join the queue at the furnace. At a tender age religious schizophrenia has set in and we keep telling Uncle George how much we love him and how good he is and that we want to do only what pleases him. We observe what we are told are his wishes and dare not admit, even to ourselves, that we loathe him.
As I stated earlier, this was my view of God for much of my Christian life—and it wasn’t working for me at all. I hid from God, deeply afraid that He would reject me for my sins. I pretended to trust Him and love Him, secretly fearing His wrath and judgement.
Rarely (if ever) did I experience any of the peace, joy, or life I was promised in God’s Word—and now I can see why.
The God I was believing in, Good Old Uncle George, didn’t exist, and thus He would never be able to offer those blessings or change my life. As frightening as it was at first, I had to walk away from Uncle George before I could encounter the real God.
And the same is true for you.
When my friend told me about Uncle George, I knew I had to write my own version of the story. So I asked the Father, how would You like to be introduced to those who still think you’re like Uncle George?
“Tell them I am their Abba,” He replied.
One day I awoke to find myself trapped in pit of destruction so deep and dark there was no possible way I could ever escape. High above me I could see the rope I had spent years slipping down, inch by inch as I tried in vain to climb up it. It quickly became apparent to me that I had finally reached the end of that rope and had no choice but to let go.
Far above the rope I saw a light shining in through the opening of the pit, the same light, I assume, that I’d always sensed shown from where freedom and paradise would be found. The place where I would no longer have to climb using my own power, but could finally experience rest and relief in every fiber of my being.
As I continued to squint upwards, something moved in the light. No, not something… Someone. Eventually I could see that the Someone was the light. As this man moved, it became clear He was moving towards me. He reached His arm into the pit, wrapped it gently around my soul, and began to lift me up.
Instantly, something in me recoiled. It may have been from His glorious light against my eyes after they had grown so used to the darkness. Perhaps it was the shock of seeing all the mud and slime on me smearing against the whiteness of His garment. Whatever it was, it caused me to shout, “Stop! You don’t know who I am or what I’ve done. I’ve tried in vain to climb the rope but I’ve failed countless times. I so desperately want out of this pit, but I can’t let you take me like this. Please give me more time to clean myself up first and then I’ll climb up to meet you.”
The thing is, if I’m being honest, I knew I could never clean myself up. There was no water around with which to do so. I could smear the mud to different places perhaps, but I could never make myself clean. Furthermore, how was I supposed to reach that rope again? It was impossible. It always had been, and still was, impossible.
In that moment, I heard the man speak to me in the most loving, gentle, yet immensely powerful voice I had ever heard. “You are correct to recognize that you can’t clean yourself up or climb out on your own. What you are just beginning to realize though, is you were never asked to do any of that. I am the only One who can do those things for you. In fact, I already have. All those years you were hanging there, trying to climb up to paradise on your own, my hand was below you waiting for you to simply drop into it. Like many others though, you had to hit the bottom before you could look away from the rope and see me. But even though you’ve fallen and hit bottom, it’s not too late for you. It’s never to late.”
“Who are you?” I asked the man. “Why are you doing this?”
“I am life. I am love. I am light. I am not who you’ve been told that I am, yet I am infinitely more than you’ve ever dreamed I am. For now, you can rest simply knowing that I AM.
“As for my motive… I am doing this because I love you. I created you, and you are my favorite—my masterpiece—no matter how flawed you believe yourself to be. There is nothing in the universe I want more than to be with you, the real you, and I will do whatever it takes to ensure that we will be together—always.
“You may think the filth that clings to you will cause me to reject you, but I can assure you it never will. I have known every speck of dirt on your body from before you were born, including the muck that you haven’t even wallowed in yet. And knowing all of that, I still sent my Son, Jesus, to clean it off for you.”
As I listened to Him tell me the story of how His son gave his life to cleanse me, I began to believe that perhaps it was true. Not just in a general sense, but that this story was true specifically for me. It was then that I felt something new. I looked down at my waist and noticed the mud was completely gone, allowing my skin to breathe for the first time. As the man continued to speak, a pleasant wind swirled around me. I quickly realized this feeling was no breeze, but His breath filling my soul with abundant life for the first time.
“I see you are beginning to believe and receive my life, son.”
“Son?” I questioned. “Why did you just refer to me as your son?”
“Because from this day forward, you will always be my son and I will always be your Father. The very moment you trusted in my Jesus, you became united with Him. And for that reason you will never again be the man you used to be. You are a new creation, washed clean with His blood and filled with the very same Spirit that raised Him from the dead. You have been eternally adopted into My family, and nothing will ever change that. There is nothing you could ever do, think, say, or imagine that will cause me to love you any less than I love Jesus himself.”
As He spoke, these words of love and acceptance became like pure water to my parched soul. I realized the pit, even though I had always despised it, no longer felt like the place I was supposed to be. I now could see my true home was with Him.
“Please,” I asked the man. “Tell me your name so I will know how to call on you.”
“To you, my son, I am your Abba.” He replied to me in His now familiar voice of comfort. “And do call on me often. I am always with you and willing to talk, no matter what you’re going through. Like I said earlier, you are (and always have been) my favorite.”
As I reclined into the arms of my Abba, I finally understood what true peace felt like. Never again would I need to climb that rope in a desperate attempt to reach the freedom of paradise. Paradise, it turns out, had been reaching down to me this whole time.
Friends, Abba is real, and He loves you more than you can ever imagine. If you’re still believing in Good Old Uncle George, you already know he’s not working for you. Walk, no, RUN away from his lies and into the arms of your true creator who loves you with the exact same love He has for His son, Jesus.
I promise you, if you allow yourself to rest in the arms of Abba Father, you will find the peace, joy, and life you’ve been longing for all along.