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Another emotional barrier to reconciliation with God is anger. In order to be reconciled to God we have to let go of anger and forgive God. I actually use the word forgive here, because when we feel anger, we have two options forgiveness or vengeance. One time when I was holding our daughter Sophia in the mall, she was about a year old, she rested her head on my shoulder and I thought awwww how cute. Then suddenly I was in intense pain, I was angry as I realized that Sophia was biting my shoulder as hard as she could! I admit, in not the best parenting moment, I questioned whether I should bite her back! I ended up getting over my insane idea pretty quickly and rather than biting her back, getting even, I let it go, I forgave her, as much as a baby needs to be forgiven. “I’m angry at God and I need to punish some Christian girls to get even with Him.” Unknown to most of us, one of Robert’s children, a daughter, had died at birth, an event he believed God could have stopped, yet didn’t. Anger is an immediate emotion that we feel like can only be quenched when we exact vengeance. There is, however, another way to quell the heat of anger. We can respond in forgiveness. Forgiveness is refusing to take vengeance, to lash out. Rather than trying to “get even” with God as Roberts did, we have the option to forgive God. Indeed scientific studies have shown that forgiveness, regardless of the state of the offending party, leads to healthier relationships, less stress and anxiety, and a variety of other beneficial health effects. God, objectively and theologically, doesn’t need to be forgiven, but for our own health and relationships we need to forgive, let go of holding God accountable. When we forgive, when we let go of our anger, we lift a heavy burden off our shoulders, we remove an obstacle and barrier in our lives, and become free in our relationships with each other and with God.
The next two barriers, again, are more theological in nature as they have to do with coming to a true understanding of who God is and who we are. The third barrier to reconciliation with God is the false belief that we can understand everything about God and His plans for creation and us. If you ever meet a preacher who says they know every answer about God then run. God is bigger than our boxes. In order to be reconciled to God we have to forgive, to let go of grasping all of God and “get it” that God is Good. We think that if we just knew WHY we’d be ok, but really if we just know He is good we’ll be ok. When we struggle with anger and resentment, we do so because we want to know why? Why is this happening to me, we want to know all the details. One of the things that I did, when we found at the first ultrasound that out that our daughter Sophia had a major heart defect and might not make it to birth, was to try to understand as completely as possible what was going on. The doctors said upfront that there was no reason, environmental or genetic, that this should have happened to our daughter, but it still helped me to make diagrams and charts of the various defects in her heart. Knowing the details, the reasons both proximal and distant, seems to be built into us. We want to know why and when we don’t get an answer we tend to lay the blame at God. We can forgive, “let go” when we stop trying to grasp all of God, knowing everything He knows and His eternal plan, and rather grasp this one aspect of His character. When we get it, that God is good, when we really get that, then even though we wrestle and that’s ok, we can, like Jacob, move from wrestling to clinging on to God. Just in case you don’t believe me, Psalm 145:9 says “The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made” and Exodus 34:6 says "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin.” I told this story in the 40 days of forgiveness devotionals for this week, and once at our Wednesday morning prayer time in the Oasis, so I apologize if you’ve heard it, but a professor from seminary told me about the difficulties he had with raising a son with a genetic disorder. His son, while appearing to be a grown man in his twenties, had the mind and coordination of a small child. One day they went on a bike ride together. Because his son wasn’t able to keep his balance alone, they rode a tandem bike (a two-person bike)
The final barrier is similar to the last and this barrier to reconciliation with God is our selves. We have to “let go” of ego and accept our existence. We have to come to an acceptance that we are creation and God is Creator.