HEALING: How My Image Of God Changed by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

Healing Our Image of God

How My Image Of God Changed by Dennis Linn, Sheila Fabricant Linn, and Matthew Linn

From: Good Goats

One day Hilda came to me crying because her son had tried to commit suicide for the fourth time.  She told me that he was involved in prostitution, drug dealing, and murder.  She ended her list of her son’s “big sins” with, “What bothers me most is that my son says he wants nothing to do with God.  What will happen to my son if he commits suicide without repenting and wanting nothing to do with God?”

Since at the time my image of God was like Good Old Uncle George, I thought, “God will probably send your son to hell.”  But I didn’t want to tell Hilda that.  I was glad that my many years of theological training had taught me what to do when I don’t know how to answer a difficult theological question: ask the other person, “What do you think?”

“Well,” Hilda responded, “I think that when you die, you appear before the judgment seat of God.  If you have lived a good life, God will sens you to Heaven.  If you have lived a bad life, God will send you to hell.”  Sadly, she concluded, “Since my son has lived such a bad life, if he were to die without repenting, God would certainly send him to hell.”

Although I tended to agree with her, I didn’t want to say, “Right on, Hilda!  Your son would probably be sent to hell.”  I was again grateful for my theological training which taught me a second strategy: when you don’t know how to solve a theological problem, then let God solve it.  So I said to Hilda, “Close your eyes.  Imagine that you are sitting next to the judgment seat of God.  Imagine also that your son has died with all these serious sins and without repenting.  He has just arrived at the judgment seat of God.  Squeeze my hand when you can imagine that.”

A few minutes later Hilda squeezed my hand.  She described to me the entire judgment scene.  Then I asked her, “Hilda, how does your son feel?”  Hilda answered, “My son feels so lonely and empty.”  I asked Hilda what she would like to do.  She said, “I want to throw my arms around my son.”  She lifted her arms and began to cry as she imagined herself holding her son tightly.

Finally, when she had stopped crying, I asked her to look into God’s eyes and watch what  God wanted to do.  God stepped down from the throne, and just as Hilda did, embraced Hilda’s son.  And the three of them, Hilda, her son and God, cried together and held one another.

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