If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31b (NIV)
A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast from Michael Hyatt, which I highly recommend, entitled “Change Your Story, Change Your Life.” To introduce the podcast, Hyatt said this, “Inside your head and mine, there is a narrator. He or she is constantly telling us stories. These stories shape how we perceive reality. In fact, if we don’t intervene, these stories can shape our destiny for the worse. Or, if we are intentional and take control of the narrative, these stories can shape our destiny for good.”
This podcast got me thinking that our narrator also extends to our views about God. As A.W. Tozer famously wrote, “What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.” Our God narrative in large measure determines whether we live a defeated life or whether we have victory in Christ.
Our view of God is shaped by a number of influences. Our families of origin and our upbringing greatly shape our view of God. Parents are generally the first authority figures a child encounters, and are essentially a surrogate for God in the early life of a child. This is especially true of the father. The God of the Bible communicates in the masculine voice. He is presented as God the Father. Dysfunction in the father / child relationship will likely negatively impact how that child sees God. If a father mistreats a child through abuse or neglect; that child will likely struggle to see God in a positive light.
Our experiences influence our God narrative. If we experience loss or trauma, we may wonder why God did not protect us from those outcomes and struggle with trusting him.
What we have been taught by others about God shape our views of him. If, for example, you are exposed to legalistic teaching about God, you may come to view God as a punitive taskmaster waiting to catch you doing something wrong.
Lastly, our God narrative is influenced by the enemy of our souls, Satan. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” Satan tempted our first parents, Adam and Eve, he tempted Jesus, and he certainly tempts us today.
Our God narrative might be shaped by various influences, but ultimately it needs to be shaped by God himself if we are to experience his abundance. Our carefully constructed God narrative needs to be held up to the true template of scripture to understand what God says about himself. We must be wary to not allow our influences to clog and distort this true view of God. I recently completed some overdue household maintenance that helped to drive home this point for me.
Last weekend I changed the chlorine filter on the showerhead in our sons’ bathroom. The filter should be changed every six months, but only God’s knows the last time it was changed! The flow from the showerhead had slowed to just something north of a trickle, so I could put off the task no longer. The filter housing had become so stuck to the point that I had to use extra-large pliers to apply the necessary torque to take the housing apart. Upon examining the old filter, it was heavy, filled with sediment and covered in lime scale. The new filter by contrast was light and clean. Upcoming replacing the filter, the water from the showerhead once again flowed freely.
What’s the point? Even with the old filter the water at the source never really stopped flowing. However the flow was blocked by the dirty filter. Our influences can over time negatively impact our God narratives and thwart the flow of his blessings like a dirty filter. You might need the help of a trusted friend, pastor or counselor to replace your filter, but you owe it yourself. Doing so will allow you to fully partake in the free flow shower of God’s blessings.