"How could a loving God send someone to hell? I cannot accept a God like that.”
We were standing near the coffee machine, having a chat in the break room at work, and my co-worker was sharing legitimate questions about God. I told her I didn’t know the answer to her question. My spirit was disquieted though because it’s a good question don’t you think? As soon as I left work that day I headed for the hills just outside our quiet California town. I needed a quiet place to talk to God.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” -Mathew 7:7
There beside a stream, beneath the large arms of an ancient oak, as a gentle breeze brushed my face, we talked. “God you have never left me even in my darkest days. I know you to be beautiful, faithful, patient, and kind. What is this about sending people to hell? I don’t understand. It doesn’t seem to fit what I know of you.
A memory from years earlier flashed across the big screen of my mind. I was reminded of a girl from high school. She had been so infatuated with one of the football players she would follow him everywhere. Everywhere he went, there she would be. She even began telling rumors that they were dating. No matter how he avoided her, she just kept on coming.
Then I heard a still small voice, “I am not like that. I do not force myself upon you. I pursue, I woo, I romance but if you do not choose me, I honour your choice. If there was no place I kept myself from, then my children would have no choice but to be with me. That’s not love. In order to give you free will, you must have a true choice. Love is a choice. Hell provides that choice. You each have the true opportunity to choose to be without me. However, I am beauty. Yes I am light, sunshine, freedom, health, and rest. I am warmth and peace. I am Love. If I am not there... neither are these attributes of m
I looked out from beneath the rustling branches, over the hills as the sun was beginning to set. The sky was a deep and stunning blue with purple, red, and pink splashed across the horizon. I breathed in the coolness of the earth and the fresh aroma from the sage and milkweed that grows in huge clusters across the rolling hills. I watched as the sun slipped below the skyline. He is indeed beautiful. I cannot imagine a world without a sunrise and a sunset. Without all of nature’s beauty and benefits. I cannot imagine a world without Him. In that moment I chose Him all over again. Not from a fear of Hell, but because I am in love with His beauty and goodness.
God never intended to scare us into relationship with Him, nor force himself upon us against our will. No he created a way for us to truly love Him freely from our hearts. He created space for a choice to be with Him, or without Him. And so there is a place in which He has removed Himself from.
Whom will you choose today? See the sun He brought to warm you, the waters to refresh and sustain you, the green trees to shade and cool you, the flowers to cheer you, the herbs to soothe and calm you. Is he not an exquisite Lover. Can you open yourself to a God such as this?
“Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” - James 1:17
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