This morning His angry voice and wrathful actions on the pages of Scripture stopped me in my tracks.
Early in my Christian experience, His anger and wrath were hard to escape. I easily feared the Lord and feared an image of "an angry God" that looked a lot like an unholy father's anger that was unleashed. I felt like God was always angry at me and ready to burst with wrath. It wasn't a right picture. It wasn't Truth. It wasn't God.
In those early days of faith, I had deep difficulty accepting His boundless love and mercy. I often struggled with images of this angry, wrathful and vengeful God. His voice in Scripture in those early years sounded angry to me... even His earthly voice through Jesus. I heard angry tones in His voice.
This is not so now.
My heavenly Father has pursued me so faithfully with His love! The work He has done in my heart is amazing! Truly. Through the years He has run after me. He has showered me with love. Showered! His theme of love and gentle, merciful pursuit has been amazing beyond words and so significantly steadfast. So, that, ...well, now... I simply know He loves me. I know this truth deep within and around me. It is a real knowledge that has been years in the making. He is love. God is love. My Father is love. And, I know this.
But, I forget that He is also a God of justice and wrath. He is a jealous God. My Father has a righteous and holy temper that is also a significant part of His beautiful complexity.
He reminded me of this truth in the early morning hours today.
Reading in Ezekiel, I heard His angry voice. His voice was downright mad! He is angry, deeply angry at His people. And, He is punishing them... His people, His kids, His loved-ones. He is inflicting harsh, difficult and painful punishment. God, Himself, is commanding death and vengeance. Let's not forget this. It isn't only an Old Testament story... Acts and Revelations reveal this piece of God's character more than we like to note.
So, wrapped warmly up in the blanket of His love, I need to remember His justice and His anger. Just as my children sit calmly, without fear, on my lap or their Dad's lap, they do know that we get angry. The anger does not define our relationship and it certainly isn't the whole of my character. (That said, I am FAR from holiness and my anger is NOT always righteous. Righteousness and Purity are part of His very nature as well, and always true about my Heavenly Father and His anger... a clear and important distinction, to be sure!)
But, my children know that I can get angry and they know that often with my anger comes discipline and punishment. Lord willing, and by His grace alone, this anger is righteous in nature and so, therefore, is the discipline. This is an important part of our relationship--- my kids and I. They need to know my love, my pursuit, my grace, and my wrath. That is true and complete parenting, I believe.
We need to remember!
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Be wise, my son and daughter. Be wise, Stephanie and remember WHO your Father is, Who He really is in His complexity and entirety.
In Ezekiel there is a mark that is put on the heads of those that are with God and in agreement with Him. Those with the mark are kept from death and punishment! Because of Jesus, I bear that mark! Be wise and eternally grateful, Stephanie, for the love poured out... for the boundless love poured out!!