Court Adjourned (Journal Entry)
By Elizabeth Enlow
Excerpt from "God in Every Season"
Available on Amazon November 11, 2017
God on trial. Every day. Every motive screened and filtered in the courtroom of life. My life. Your life. Every heart has a judge, jury, and a special chair for this Defendant. An endless string of accusations and questioning. And there the Creator of all things and the One who holds me together, sits with perfect patience and profound humility—a ectionate, smiling eyes, happy to have my attention none-the-less. Listening and gently responding as every petal falls to the floor.
Like a child’s game, we pick the petals from a daisy. He loves me. He loves me not. I can’t believe after all these generations we still do this to Him. I still do this to Him. Who can explain Him? Who can figure any of it out? Can He be diminished to my perceptions? To yours? To what we’ve been through or will go through? To what we have or don’t have? Can He be whittled down into our fleeting thoughts or momentary feelings? Only if He wants to.. But who really knows what He wants?
I know I don’t know. And that feels good today. Today my heart rests in knowing a God who will take an eternity to know. Who wants to be known in His fulness. Outside the courtroom.
God, I’m so sorry. Really sorry I’ve chosen the courtroom once again. Let’s go somewhere else today. Anywhere but there.
The Reputation of God—Is He Good, or Not?
Everyone has a reputation, good or bad, including the God of the Universe. A person’s reputation is basically what comes to mind when someone thinks of you or your name is mentioned. It’s your character or nature as it’s perceived or judged by others. To think that the Maker of all things has allowed Himself to be defined in that sense by the very ones who wouldn’t even exist if He hadn’t made us, is truly incredible.. His humility is astounding. I’ve tried to remind myself of that throughout the years when my teenage kids have at times looked at me like I was an idiot. It’s awfully hard in moments like that to not want to express to them the reality that they are here because I made it possible! But that’s not like this Father. He deliberately handed His reputation over to His children and patiently waits while we collectively and individually discover the real Him, His true and correct reputation.
We all do it. We define God by the circumstances of our lives. Even Christians who know better, tend to feel a little more loved and noticed by God when we get that perfect parking space. And who do the most staunch atheists get angry with when life goes horribly wrong?—the God they don’t believe exists. As if a God worth worshiping could be narrowed down to a glitch or a bright spot in our broken and imperfect lives.
I love the way Papa, in one of my favorite books, “The Shack,” explains it:
“The problem is that many folks try to grasp some sense of who I am by taking the best version of themselves, projecting that to the nth degree, factoring in all the goodness they can perceive, which often isn’t much, and then calling that God. And while it may seem like a noble effort, the truth is that it falls pitifully short of who I really am. I’m not merely the best version of you that you can think of. I am far more than that, above and beyond all that you can ask or think.”
We will lose heart and resolve if we don’t understand that we are in a war of the ages over the correct reputation of God. Who does humanity perceive Him to be? Is He a gracious, kind, and compassionate Father who absolutely loves us and desires relationship? Or is He a distant ruler who requires servants to worship Him and keep His commandments because of some unmet need within Himself? This war over His true nature was raging long before you and I were born. And it has always been over the same thing—God’s reputation. Is He good, or not?
The way we answer that question honestly from deep in our core, in the midst of absolutely anything we’re going through, affects how we do life individually and collectively as a society. The question of His goodness affects the core values and beliefs we each live from, as well as the systems we collectively set into motion in every area of culture. The way each nation functions as it relates to its institutions (economic, educational, governmental, religious, family, arts and entertainment, and media), is a direct reflection of what the people think God is or isn’t like—and ultimately a reflection of how much they trust Him. If our conclusion is that He is good, then the logical conclusion is that He can be trusted. When we trust someone, we will partner with them and seek out their input. At best, we keep distance from someone we don’t trust, including God. When we don’t truly believe that God is good, then we don’t trust Him and we distance ourselves from Him, whether we’re aware of it or not. To the degree that we distance ourselves from God, to that same degree we will do things independently of Him, our best way, which is clearly inferior to His better ways that are sourced from perfectand selfless love for us.
Beyond the question of God’s goodness, there are yet deeper questions I believe every heart asks (at least subconsciously)... “What is God’s heart towards me? Does He really care about me? If I matter to Him, then why has He let me go through ( fill in the blank)? Am I important and, if so, why doesn’t He give me something important to do?” Do any of these questions sound familiar? The ramifications of how we end up answering are huge. I believe every heart of every person that has ever lived has sought the answers, which has shaped the world in which we now live. In time, each correct answer will eventually crescendo into the knowledge of the glory of God filling the whole earth and every knee bowing before Him. In the meantime, we wrestle internally and the world wrestles on every stage of culture of every nation, from our economic systems, to our education systems, to our systems of government, etc. Each area of culture uniquely displays the lies we have collectively believed and continue to perpetuate about God—all because we don’t trust Him. All because we won’t do things His way, because we simply don’t trust Him.
My point is that there is a greater narrative than simply your personal story, but your personal journey is intricately connected to it. And it all has everything to do with the spiritual war zone we were born into. What you’ve personally battled over and come up against again and again is so much bigger than you are. That’s why it’s so hard. You’re not just fighting for yourself or generations before or after you in your lineage. Nor are you simply fighting to attain your version of success or happiness or to fulfill your God-given potential. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you are contending to know and experience the truth of God’s heart for you in the face of great contradiction and mystery— while you’re simultaneously fighting creation’s war for the truth of who God is as Love to be revealed in all of society itself. The war will be won through individuals like yourself, who become fully convinced that His heart towards us is indeed good. Every individual battle that you win, to personally believe in and live from the goodness of God, is evidence of the kingdom itself coming to earth—the very greatest victory that is promised us.
The war began in the heart of Lucifer who then engaged all of humanity when he tempted Adam and Eve to eat fruit from the one tree in the Garden of Eden that God said not to—the supernatural tree of the knowledge of good and evil. When they ate it, their ability to think and process in terms of good and evil was awakened, along with every other person’s ability that has lived since then. From that moment forward, humanity began to look at something or someone through the grid of whether it or they were good, or evil. More importantly, we began to look at God and attempt to determine if He was good, or evil—if He was for us or against us, if He truly cared about us or not, if He could be trusted. Adam and Eve, who had lived daily walking in incredible intimacy with God and dependency on Him, never previously doubted His intentions towards them, for they were incapable of doing so. This in complete contrast to Lucifer, who had been banished to the earth for judging God and ruling himself equal to the One who created him.
So, right in the face of the fallen enemy, God put the first of His beloved sons and daughters into a situation that He knew would land them and us where we are now—God on trial every day, in every heart and mind, in every context of life and culture, in every front page hot- topic, day in and day out, season after season, and generations following generations. Doubting Him. Judging Him as if we had all the facts, all knowledge, and could decipher it all in the context of perfect love—none of which we have within ourselves apart from Him. Just because we are able to perceive if something or someone (God) is good or evil, doesn’t mean we have perceived correctly. I know that sounds so obvious, but it doesn’t come easily to actually live from that reality. Because of the one bite from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we naturally gravitate towards wrongly perceiving the One who created us through the lter of whatever we’re going through at the time. But didn’t God basically bring that on Himself? Why? Always ask why.
The Point of Life—Relationship, Not War
Although the war is real and the idea of remaining on the judgement seat tempts us all, the war was never God’s original plan or desire for creating us. And because He is God, His original plan has never been interrupted or set-back, even by the enemy, sin, or the forbidden fruit. The reason the war started in the first place was because God desired one thing—an intimate relationship with ones He created in His image, a counterpart. That’s so amazing when we really think about it. The God of the Universe, the Creator of all things, chose to want us. He set up everything we now see in order to provide each of our hearts as the objects of His pure affection for all of eternity. If that was what He wanted all along, then we must ask ourselves why He put the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to begin with? If He knew any of us would’ve succumbed to the temptation like Adam and Eve did, then why give anyone access to it? Doesn’t He make the rules?
If the war is over the correct reputation of God (Is He good?) and the goal all along was relationship, then how does real relationship happen? We are made in His image, so it gives us a bit of a clue when we look at how He wired us: What does your heart need in order for real relationship to exist with someone? True intimacy cannot exist outside of the context of freedom, more specifically freedom to choose intimacy or not choose it. Authentic intimacy also requires mutuality, not hierarchy—mutual freedom to choose, mutual knowledge of the other, mutual trust, and a mutual option not to trust. I’m not a theologian or a philosopher, but in matters of the heart, from experience I can tell you these are all necessary components for what our hearts, and God’s heart, is longing for—relationship, not religion. Hence the need for the dreaded tree that He knew would forever change the way this all went down.
Giving them access to the very tree He told them not to eat from was a risk, but not in the ways we generally think. There was no true risk in putting it there, for He did it fully knowing the choice that would be made, after all, He is God. But He knew, and profoundly valued, the real risk that would follow—would we each individually and subsequently nation by nation, grow in the knowledge (correct perception) of His glory and goodness enough that we would choose Him? And when we chose, He so wanted something real with us that He was willing to make sure we each had the same options Adam and Eve had—the potential for doubt, for choice, for trust, for a correct knowledge of Him, and ultimately for intimate relationship. Eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil didn’t just unleash sin in the world, giving us a need for a Savior. It actually secured for us and for Him the potential for true intimacy, which is what He wanted all along. The enemy was and still is a little pawn in God’s ultimate plan and our victory.
Of course, when Jesus came to earth, generations after the garden incident, He restored what had been temporarily lost. It was so much more than what many assume. Jesus didn’t just come to die on the cross to save us from sin and give us the way to once again be in relationship with God (as awesome and as necessary as that is!), but He came to restore back to our hearts the correct reputation of God so that we would want an intimate relationship with Him to begin with. Jesus showed us through the way He lived, served, healed, taught, died, and was resurrected—that His Father, our Father, not only exists, but is indeed good and has the most perfect intention of love and only love towards every heart.