One day, I sat down and wrote everything I’d learned about God. The list was honest and complete. It started with “God is love” … “God will take me to heaven” … “God hears my prayers” … all of the things I’d been taught to believe. Once I’d written the superfluous checklist… I got honest and wrote what I felt from all those sermons about God.
God is scary
God is going to send me to hell
God is going to punish me
God expects me to follow a list of rules or pay the consequences
God thinks I’m unworthy
God is making a list, and I’ll have to answer for everything I’ve ever done
God wants complete and total adoration
God expects me to apologize for everything I’ve done every day until I die and then there is going to be a meeting in his office
God expects me to believe every word ever written in the Bible because he inspires it
My interpretation of God sounded more like a terrorist than a loving creator. “Do what I say or I’m going to torture you for all eternity” This was a “damned if I do … damned if I don’t” proposition.
For some reason, I grabbed another piece of paper and made a list of what I needed from a creator or higher power or a God… the following is what I came up with…
I wanted a friend
I wanted something I could lean on in times of troubles
I wanted to feel loved
I wanted a “father-like” figure
I wanted to live without fear
I wanted help in this life
I wanted to feel peace at the time I die
I wanted to know it’s o.k. to be Rob…..
Then it dawned on me… what I learned about God as a kid was someone else’s list. It was no more inspired by God than my list. That list was someone else’s interpretation of God. It isn’t wrong … it isn’t right… it is simply their list. I wouldn’t go to the grocery store with someone else’s shopping list for my house, why was I trying to retrofit my life with someone else’s beliefs? No wonder I couldn’t find God… I was looking for someone else’s.
Good people are so quick to tell me what’s in this portion of the Bible or the Quran or that section of the Torah, and they use the books to justify their beliefs… I think it is wonderful that holy books are written and inspire people to follow a life path. These texts are guides, just like the GPS in your car. Follow the message spoken and you’ll get where you’re going or set out to find your way, and the books will still help when help is needed. That is why they were created… not to harm you … but to guide you. If the GPS says, “Warning accident ahead,” I can interpret that to mean “ I will be destroyed if I don’t flash my lights to warn others of imminent death and run in another direction… or I can proceed with caution. The choice is mine.
I have found the God of my understanding, and he is not expecting me to do anything other than to be the best “Rob” I can be while I’m here. He (because I think God is a guy) wants me to work on me… not MJ or you or the blonde hoochie woman who lives upstairs. I’ve got a full-time job navigating through life without using what time I have left like an Uber driver picking up converts along the way. My God created the world and me, he doesn’t need me to promote him like Mary Kaye Cosmetics or Amway. I don’t need to tell five people… so they can tell five people… so they can tell five people… he doesn’t need my help.
To be honest with you… God is not preparing a mansion for me on a hill, next to a river on a street paved with gold for my next life… he’s also not issuing pink Cadillacs for those who recruited the largest number of people in this life. I don’t want it, and he knows it. What he is doing is helping me here and now and one day when this life is over… he will reunite me with my grandmother and everyone I’ve ever loved… that is my definition of heaven created by the God of my understanding. Believe in whatever brings peace into your life and if you haven’t found it from the God of your childhood…. Grab a piece of paper and start over.
You are smart enough to think for yourself and figure this one out …. Do it now!