My wrestling with God is no secret. I have been raw, honest, and real about my struggles, difficulties, and frustration with Him.
There are times when I have been highly confident and secure in my relationship with God.
But these days, I am all over the proverbial map.
I seem stuck in a place I can’t escape from–and God? I believe He is my Father. I believe His Son died for me. I believe the Holy Spirit works in believer’s lives.
I believe all that.
I am really not trying to convince myself or you of those beliefs.
I just can’t quite let go of my struggle to understand God more.
I just can’t.
I am not a deist. I don’t believe God created the universe, wound it up, and then took a step back to watch what happens.
At the same time, I have a strong need to understand how or why God answers some prayers and others He doesn’t.
But before you tell me God always answers prayers with a yes, not, or wait… I understand what you are saying. On the other hand, put yourself in my place for just a second–I wouldn’t ever want you to really be where I have been. Imagine praying and asking God to keep your family safe from harm–to protect them from people who would want to do them grave physical harm… Can you imagine that? Probably you have done the very thing yourself.
Now imagine something far worse than your worse nightmare taking place. (When we were in the criminal justice system waiting for justice, I always imagined a confrontation would take place one day before a court trial occurred. In my mind it was all verbal–some yelling and jousting…) Of course, you know what ultimately happened. I wish I could be completely honest about where all the ripples have taken us. I wish I could tell you what our very real struggles still are. I suspect you would be in shock all over again.
So it happened. It was bad. It’s still a waking walking nightmare.
How do you view God? Can you imagine a God who would say no to keeping your family safe? Or is it easier to believe somehow, someway that that particular prayer went unanswered?
Thus my need to understand God’s nature more better as we like to say down here.
In graduate school, I did a paper on the nature of Hell. One of the things I discovered was this: the doctrine of hell is based more on the literary piece known as Dante’s Inferno than any clear Biblical texts.
I wrestled hard with hell. I looked at the major theories. I researched, wrote, and wrote some more. In the end, I felt pretty comfortable with seeing hell differently than I had in the past. In the conclusion of the paper, I hedged my bets though and said something like this: Whatever form hell takes, I don’t want to be there.
I have no intention of ever finding out firsthand about eternity in hell.
Hell on earth? That’s another story.
Tired of wearing the T-Shirt.
Ultimately, whether I understand the shape, form, and fashion of hell correctly or not (or even heaven as well) isn’t all that important.
But understanding God? Understanding how He works? Those are questions worthy of my struggle.
I know heaven is in my future. I just want a piece of it here.
By the way, if you would like a copy of my paper on The Nature of Hell, send me a quick message through the contact page and it is yours free of charge–to read, line your bird cage, or to clean up with after your new puppy!
Les Ferguson, Jr.