“So why do you love God?”
I was standing in the carpark at Horrocks Beach,. watching the surf and chatting with a complete stranger – a 60 year old man who was living in his camper van so that he could travel and surf as he pleased. It was clear from early in the conversation that he wasn’t up for any kind of
‘conventional life’ . He was a long time surf-nomad and raved like a 16 year old grommie about
his surfing adventures around the world.
Then he asked me this question… And to be honest it kinda flummoxed me. I didn’t have a simple ready answer like I would to ‘Why do you believe in God?” or ‘why are you a Christian?’
“Why do you love God?”
Just prior to this he asked me if I had hit the drugs hard as a young fella. When I told him I
had never touched any drugs he asked “Ah- are you a religious nut?’ I sense he was wondering which ‘social category’ to place me in.
‘Well – I’m a Christian… “I said, wondering where this was headed.
” Me too!” he cheered “I’m a Jehovah’s witness!”
‘Awesome…’ I thought, as my gut churned and I felt myself looking for escape routes. I got the sense he wanted to debate theology right here in the carpark – kinda like a theological street fight.
I didn’t want to get into a fruitless debate… However the conversation rolled on and we did end up discussing God’s name, John 1:1 and the “end time” signs. At some point in the conversation he asked, ‘Are you a pastor?’ I think my gentle pushbacks and degree of biblical knowledge left him puzzled at times. Maybe I knew more than I was letting on… (Of course I’m not a pastor now, so the answer was ‘no’.)
As the conversation ended he told me he had learnt something new from our chat (that there is more than one way to read Revelation – phew!), but I had also benefitted from his question. I spent some time trying to articulate a response that is true.
Why do I love God? And perhaps just as pertinent – what do we ever mean by that?
In our culture “love” has been so equated with romance that we can struggle to think outside
of that paradigm. To ‘love’ must mean butterflies in the stomach, sweaty palms and that inner
excitement that goes with the “infatuation” stage of a relationship.
And no – it’s not like that with God – and certainly not after 45 years of devotion. I don’t know that it ever felt like that. As I was reflecting on my response, I was drawn back to a couple of (currently) popular worship songs about the goodness and faithfulness of God. Two of the lines say: from ‘Goodness of God by Bethel Music, say:
All my life you have been faithful
All my life you have been so, so good
Every time I sing this song and these words particularly, I feel like they are true – beautifully true – not just factually or intellectually, but because they reflect so deeply my experience of God. I then wonder whether that is because my life has had some kind of ‘midas touch’, or because I am a wealthy Western Christian. I don’t think so. I have had my own fair share of struggles & failures. I haven’t had a dream run, but somehow, from early on I have had a deep conviction about the goodness and faithfulness of God.
And I sense my experience has reinforced my conviction and vice versa. I cannot help but
feel gratitude and love for a God who I feel has been with me for so long and who hasn’t
let me down.
I wonder what its like for my children to sing these words. At 22 & 20 they just can’t be sung
with the same degree of emphatic, experiential knowledge. Maybe when they are in their 50’s and have done the time in relationship with God they will be able to sing with that same kind of conviction.
Another song ‘You Hold it All Together by Maverick Music says:
And I believe that I will see
The goodness of the Lord
I’m confident as seasons change
Your faithfulness remains
I only came across this song a few weeks back, but again it resonated deeply as my own experience. In a time of change – such as our life is at present – I am confident that there is one who ‘holds it all together’. I don’t at all mean that in a ‘meticulous sovereignty’ kind of way – but more a knowledge that he leads and guides in ways that have been proven faithful.
So to come back to my mate’s question – ‘why do I love God?’ I sense it has to do with it being a response to his love for me. I feel like I am echoing the words of 1 John 4:19 ‘We love because he first loved us.’ For so many years I have been conscious of his provision and his presence and the older I get the deeper that experience seems to go.
Honestly, I dunno how this question works for someone in a famine ravaged country where their only experience of life has been a struggle to survive. I don’t know how they experience a good and faithful God – or why they may want to love that God. I can only speak from my own context (but I do acknowledge and feel overwhelmed at times by the complexity of this question.)
So – lesson learnt… Carpark conversations can be enlightening if you’re willing to dive in…