What is “God” like to me? #6
My perceptions of God began in very early childhood. They were childish and even silly then, and they have continued to be that way to my satisfaction, and not necessarily to others. God did not give man a description of Himself! However, God allowes man to form his own perceptions. Some men and women have developed strong perceptions and they keep on forcing them on their fellowmen, as being God’s answer. I was born into such a theologically set world. My “journey of grace” began with fearing God more than any one else. It was a learning experience over time.
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; a good understanding have all those who practice it” (Psalm 111:10).
When did I “First” become aware of God?
I was brought into the world by my father’s mother. And when I was one year old, we moved to another town, where father bought land; and with the help of my mother’s father, they built a new home. Mother’s parents moved in with us, and after a year, grandfather died. Our grandmother stayed with us for nine years. It was during this time that my mother and grandmother planted into me their perceptions of God. God was an “Awesome Being” that had angels everywhere, hearing and seeing everything I said and did. God was good to those who obeyed His Laws, and He punished those who did wrong. Even when I forgot Grandmam’s order, God would hold it against me when I would face Him in the after life. By the age of six or seven, I had made enough mistakes to fall asleep in sweat almost every night. And when at the age of twelve, I went swimming on a Sunday with some friends and almost drowned, I was intensely afraid to face God, my Maker. Then, at the age of twenty-one, I accidentally fell with a kerosene lamp in my hand; and I became a living torch, my fear of facing God was unbearable. The fear of God, that my parents and grandparents instilled in me, has been with me for ninety years.
Fear was and is legitimate and necessary; for, it curbed my appetite for doing wrong, endless times. It also kept me from inflicting harm on others, and to avoid enduring embarrassment and humiliation. I, too, belong to a people who are regarded as a “minority.” I am a German born in Poland, on a land that belonged to Russia, and has since then become Ukraine. The year was 1939, and war with Germany was imminent. At the time, I was nine years old and towards the end of my second grade in a Polish school. The class was made up mostly of Ukraians, very few Poles, and three Germans students, two sisters and one boy; and of course, an ardent Polish lady teacher. The Polish children began to call me “Hitler” and threw stones at me. The teacher outdid the children. She asked a question in class and everyone raised their hands, including those who copied my lessons. And because I could not lie, I did not raise my hand. Unintentionally, the teacher made me look dumb. She even embarrassed my parents over one question with her second best student in class. By the teacher’s own admission, which was before the rumor of war with Germany began, and in front of all the students, her best student in class was the younger sister of the two German girls. Imagine what an attitude of fear I was developing?
The war with Germany commenced on September first, 1939. My father had served in the Polish military; and therefore, he was kept in reserve for his skills. And without being notified, he returned to active duty the same day. He was taken prisoner by the Russians and sent home, immediately. Months later, we were sold to Germany and shipped, like animals, in box cars and handed over to the German military. Who, in turn first, indoctrinated us and then placed us on Polish farms, to raise food for the German Army. We were not wanted on German soil, but in 1945 the Russian Army drove us there against the will of the Germans. We settled in USA territory where I became, “The Polak.” I endured it for six years, and in 1951, I decided to immigrate to Canada. After being in Canada for only six months, I had a very serious fire accident. And to get back into the cycle of life, I had to develop new skills, which led me to a Bible School in Edmonton Alberta, where I could matriculate for college. Accidentally, I overheard a fine group of young Christan men wondering what could possibly become of the “dumb immigrants” in their school. This immigrant did make it through their high school, college, seminary, past seminary, and qualified for doctoral studies in Toronto, Ontario. We, my wife and the two boys lived with my parents. Our oldest attended a Canadian primary for one year. One day, the principal brought our son home, all bruised and hurt by immigrant children, chanting, “Yankee go home.” They threw him off a bridge into a creek that could have killed him. Who taught these children to hate Americans?
What and “Whom” do I fear the most here on earth?
I do fear God and try to please Him by following and practicing His Laws. In doing so, I do stumble, from time to time, and I do need the help of Jesus, my Lord, to see me make it past my mistakes, which I failed to resolve when I could. But there is another problem that I constantly face, and that is maintaining a relationship with those who have no sense of fear. I live in a time and so do you, that is no different from the “days of David” when there also was no fear of God. We, as a people, ought to take to heart the warning Samuel gave to king Saul and Israel. The “Hand of God is the Law,” and we, ourselves, have turned it against our nation.
“Hear my voice O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from the dread of the enemy, hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the scheming of evildoers, who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, shooting from ambush at the blameless, shooting at him suddenly and without fear. They hold fast to their evil purpose, they talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, “Who can see us? Who can search out our crimes? We have thought out a cunningly conceived plot.” For the inward mind and heart of a man are deep! But God will shoot his arrow at them; they will be wounded suddenly. Because of their tongue he will bring them to ruin; all who see them will wag their heads. Then all men will fear; they will tell what God has wrought, and ponder what he has done. Let the righteous rejoice in the LORD, and take refuge in him! Let all the upright in heart glory! (Psalms 64:1-10).
“If you fear the Lord and serve him and harken to his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD you God, it will be well; but if you will not hearken to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you and your king (I Samuel 12:14-15).
Fear is the “Way” how to please God
It is only in this life that I am able to honor and serve God. God, Himself, does not need anything! However, his children do. They are in the clutches of God’s arch enemy, Satan. To set these victims free, the Lord Jesus Christ wants us to stay on earth, as long as we can serve Him for his follower’s sake. I am, and so are you, included in Jesus’ Prayer. Like the Apostle Paul, I too long from time to time to be set free from my earthly housing.
“Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou has given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which Thou has given me in Thy love for me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world has not known Thee, but I have known Thee; and these know that Thou hast sent me. I made known to them Thy name, and I will make it known, that the love with which Thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John 17:24-26).
“For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desiree is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continues with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming (staying) to (with) you again” (Philippians 1:21-26).
I retired from the pastorate 27 years ago. Soon after I had an attack on my muscles and I also was diagnosed with 129 PSA prostate cancer. I was not given any chance of a prolonged life. I was at a loss. What should I be doing while I wait for my departure from this world? I even had a lovely vision of paradise. Then, a Muslium friend, who worked with our sons, suggested that I share my thoughts and views on a Blog. Our youngest son set me up and showed me how to do it. To date, I have been able to share 1213 entries that can assist my fellow pilgrims. This “Journey of Grace” is my prime. To close this chapter, I commend to whoever reads my testimony, this message of the Apostle Paul:
“So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.
Therefore knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men; but what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to be proud of us, so that you may be able to answer those who pride themselves on a man’s position and not on his heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (II Corinthians 5:6-15).