DISTORTION - God Who Abandons

I have been teaching a 6 week series through various distorted images we have of God, while announcing the various topics on facebook and twitter. After announcing the last session's topic (The God Who Abandons), there were several people who wanted to know if they could read it. So...here it is! Keep in mind it is written as a manuscript for speaking...



We are continuing in our “Distortion” series tonight, and the basic understanding behind this series is that we have within each of a gallery of sorts. This gallery within our soul has images, which form a foundation for our relationships, including our relationship with God. They form a foundation for what we end up expecting from those relationships. Images are not abstract ideas. These are pictures…they are powerful combinations of thoughts and feelings, and they profoundly impact our spiritual well being, because we allow a lot of these images to impact our relationship with God and how he is perceived. The problem is that a lot of these images are distorted images we have been given by or relationships with family, friends, Christian leaders, and various other relationships we have. Those distortions, when projected onto God, create a spiritual distress within us. We try as hard as we can to throw scripture at these images in hope that they will stick, but these images are deeper than that. They have formed impressions on our heart, and these images push past verses and words used as quick fixes. You have to REPLACE the distorted image.


Can you guess who this is? These are the words of Mother Teresa. A lot of us have felt close to God at one point and then felt completely abandoned the next. For most of us, this is a simple challenge of faith and a point of growth, but there are others of us who have this difficulty because of a distorted image within our soul’s gallery.

Separation, Divorce (parents, or yours), Death, Endless hours your caretakers spent away are all experiences of being abandoned. Essentially, when someone you depended on, anyone you depended on, leaves, we are abandoned. And because what or who we had depended on has been removed, we have lost a sense of security or stability. There is nothing or no one there to rest on, stand on, depend on. This is the image of abandonment.

There is a sense of guilt that comes with this abandonment. When we are abandoned by someone we depended on, we will often conclude it was our fault. We start a lot of our phrases with, “If I had only…” There is this sense of responsibility we have, most of the time, put on ourselves. This generally creates two reactions to this abandonment in our lives. We might become really fearful and worry that other people are going to do the same thing; so we refuse to depend on anyone else. We refuse to trust other people. OR We do everything we can to impress that person who abandoned us. We think maybe, just maybe, if I’m good enough I can keep them around or make them come back.

Like all the other distorted images we have mentioned, we then project that image onto God. All the sudden I can’t trust God or depend on God, because if I trust God he’ll leave me, he’ll abandon me like everyone else. OR I do whatever I can to impress him so he won’t leave me. All the sudden, God becomes a God who abandons, but that is an incredibly distorted image of God.

So we have to see what scripture says about the true Biblical God to the contrast of this distorted image.


You will find that this text could more adequately be titled, “Seeking the Lost”, but we will need to determine what is really lost here. My grandfather was once lost in a bad part of Chicago, and a cop pulled him over. When the cop came to the window, my grandfather explained, “I’m sorry officer. I’m really lost.” The officer responded, “You’re not lost; I know right where you are.”


Now notice that each of these stories has a character, which represents the Biblical God. Each story also has a character or an item representing us as humans. Take notice which character is constantly leaving or abandoning the other.

We expect God to leave these people. We expect God to reject the bad people and accept the good people. We expect it to tell us that the shepherd left the 99, loaded his shot gun, and he found that one dumb sheep, and they had gyros that night to celebrate the fact that the one stupid sheep was gone. We expect the lady to realize she had plenty of cash, and that she didn’t really care about that one coin. We expect the father to say, “What son? You mean the sun that flipped me off, wished he wasn’t my son, and left? I only have one son, the good one, out back working for me.”

We expect these reactions of God because we perceive this world as a good vs bad world. We simply see people as good or bad. We perceive this world on a good/bad matrix, and we are surprised that God does not see things as we do. God sees things on this lost/found or dead/alive matrix. There are none who are so worthless…there are no efforts He won’t use to find you when you are lost. He knows right where you are. He feels the same way you do when you lose something incredibly valuable to you.

Do you see in these stories that God wants a relationship with us? He is aware when this relationship is threatened by our own distorted images of him and his love. God never leaves or abandons us; people leave and abandon us. Not only will God never leaves us, but when WE leave, he will come looking for us until he finds us. God perceives this world and his people as lost or found, dead or alive, and the lost are considered precious.

But the reality is that divorce does happen. Separation does happen. Death does happen. Jobs are lost. Relationships end, and you have a real and present enemy who will do everything to convince and discourage you and make you believe you have been abandoned by God



The purpose for us here is to realize that God takes initiative in seeking a relationship with us. God has not and will not abandon you, but again, this understanding will require us to replace the distorted image within our soul’s gallery and that will come with a certain level of healing.

These distorted images of God often represent wounds on our heart, which need time and attention in order to heal. There are no quick fixes here, and we cannot expect quick fixes. This is going to involve a recovery of sorts. The word “recovery” implies that something has gone wrong, and if you have this distorted image of God; if you have a difficult time believing and trusting a God you believe will only abandon you, something HAS gone very wrong. No pathway of recovery from these images is easy or quick. We will have to face some painful truths in order to heal and replace these images, but it IS possible.

Beginning the process will require you to be upfront with God and tell him if you are confused or feeling rejected. Explain to him the difficulties you have in feeling his presence with you or even talking to him at all. Understand this, God is personally invested in replacing those distorted images.

If you have been in the church for long enough, you have likely had Bible verses and Christian clichés thrown at you. It is typical for us to throw verses and clichés at your pain as quick fixes or simple solutions. When you aren’t engaging your heart and soul with these scriptures, they end up becoming barriers rather than resources. Scripture IS a practical and helpful resource when YOU approach it as such. And scripture reminds us of this: God has never left you, people have left you, and

Hosea 11:9 says, “For I am God, and not man.”
Hebrews 13:5 says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

We are not going to heal these images by placing blame on different people either. It will only come by sorting out who God is and who God is not, but allowing scripture to impact those images in our gallery. You cannot do this alone either. Because our distorted images were formed in relationships, it will be in the context of relationships that distortions will heal.

So you may be honestly asking, “God, are you really faithful?” You may be trying to really believe that God is unchanging and constant, but our world isn’t. Our world can be flipped upside down in a moment. Understand this, when we read that God is faithful, we have to understand that God’s faithfulness is relational. He tells us never will he leave us, never will he abandon us. We can trust that our relationally distorted image is replaced by a relationally faithful God. We are only going to reconnect with God through a change of mind set; a replacement of the distorted image.

So can you picture a God that notices you have been forgotten and abandoned by others? Can you picture a God who is out looking for you? Can you picture him finding you with a face full of joy?

What difference would it make to you in your current struggles, your current loneliness, your current pain to remember that God will never leave you? What difference would it make if you TRULY believed that?


LISTENING TO: "Into The Blue Again" by Album Leaf
READING: "Own Your Faith" by Tabb