I remember the first time I saw my husband, Joshua. It was my freshman year of college. He was a junior. Joshua reminded me of a squirrel. He came into a room where I was visiting someone, talked for a few minutes, then darted off. I doubt he even saw me. Indifference at first sight!
Later, as I noticed other things about him, I became more certain I didn't want to be associated with him. Joshua was a weird missionary type. He would walk around campus barefoot, wrapped in a woven shawl from India. He was friends with other weird missionary types. When several of those weird missionary types decided to go to the seminary across the street for graduate school, it confirmed to me that I did not want to attend that seminary.
My Grandma, the one who married the red-headed boy, always told me not to tell God “never.” He would laugh, and that “never” would happen. Well, I did end up getting a master's degree at that seminary. I did become friends with Joshua. Though I argued with God on the matter, I even ended up marrying him, but that is a long story.
Well, in the same way, I knew that God was not the God of my dreams. I was a Christian. I would say that I loved God, because I was trying hard to do so, but the spark just wasn't there. I didn't have any theological problem with this. God wasn't supposed to be what I wanted. I had heard about people who create their own God according to what they want. I didn't want to do that.
Instead, I tried to make myself love the God about whom I heard. He is the God who loved us so much in the past that He gave His Son to die for us. He is the God who will love us so much in the future that we will have a wonderful life with Him in Heaven. At present, it doesn't feel like love, but that is because of our sinfulness. “No discipline is pleasant at the time,” but it's good for you. The problem is that we are “at the time,” so His love doesn't feel pleasant. So, despite my effort to love God, I felt terrified of God.
But two years ago, God asked me a question. We had just moved to our new house near Nairobi. I was busy getting settled in. As I was working on laundry, I heard God ask, “What does your heart long for in a Father?”
I did not know what to say. How could I answer this question? He was asking me, who is the God of your dreams? How could I tell Him that He's not it? But He asked me. I couldn't be rude and ignore Him. I focused on the laundry to give myself time to think. Then I gathered my courage and told Him, “I want a Father who will lead me to obey Him because I love Him, not drive me to obey Him because I'm afraid of Him.”
Immediately, I heard, “What makes you think I'm not like that?” I was flabbergasted. My initial response was, “Because of how you act.” Still, He cared enough to ask me what I longed for, maybe I should actually think about His second question. What does make me think He's not this God of my dreams? Maybe my dreams are true!