The church we attended when i was growing up was also a bit twisted. What i'm going to share, granted, was the opinion of a couple of Sunday School teachers but it did seem to be the attitude of that church in general. And it did tend to effect the way i see the world.
These Sunday School teachers said, "Whatever you love God will take away from you." At least, that is what i heard. In retrospect, what i think they were trying to say was, "God will do anything to draw you to him. If that requires removing everything you love to put you focus on him, then he will do it." Now i'm not sure how scriptural that last one is, but it has a different flavor to it than "God will take away whatever you love."
The POINT of the story was not to harden our hearts against God, to be willing to go where he leads. But it did tend to get lost. The teachers would tell stories about folks who said (when they were young), "Oh, i'd NEVER be a missionary." Or, "I'll be a missionary, God, i feel called. But DON'T send me to Africa (China, South America, etc., etc.)" Or, "I'll do anything for you Lord, but don't ask me to __________."
Of course, ultimately the thing the person ended up doing was be a missionary, going to Africa, China, South America, etc., or that they ended up doing ____________. I assume the point behind these stories was not to put limits on God, although there was the undercurrent of "you better not tell God you don't like ______________, or that is the very thing you'll end up doing." Or even, "Don't be honest about what you don't like, 'cause if you voice it God is sure to make you do it."
But, to a kid's ears, this is kind of saying God is a bully. He's gonna send you out to do the job you like least, the thing you dread or hate.
Another part of this was that anything i really wanted to do my mother told me would never happen. Most of the time she would just stop me directly but if for some reason she wasn't able to do that, she complained until i gave it up as not worth listening to her. If that didn't work (like my desires about college), she told me it was a pipe-dream & would never happen. As a child i felt fenced-off & stopped at every desire. Some kids, of course, have the type of personality in which this kind of challenge would spur them on to overcome the closed doors. I know that these type of folks are greatly regarded in our culture. I'm not that personality type, however. I managed by closing down, retreating, waiting, waiting, waiting, believing that somehow it would yet all happen for me.
So, why am i thinking of this now? For a few reasons, actually. One is the struggle for a child. I don't understand why God gave us this sincere, deep, resounding, aching desire for a child when that is not going to happen. (Many other folks share this desire without having it fulfilled, i know.) Another is that i'm feeling so limited in working. I woke up in a lot of pain today - turns out somehow i dislocated (well, that sounds too dramatic, but i messed it up somehow) my left scapula/clavicle shoulder area while sleeping. I've been in pain most of today & working was so difficult. I don't think i've been in excruciating pain, just severe discomfort, but i've wanted to cry most of the day. And, i'm afraid that if my energy level continues as it has been i won't be able to work any more. What will be left for me? I'll simply be an inert vegetable, not doing much of anything. And, so i've been praying, please, please God, don't take work away from me!
And in the back of my head i hear, "God will take away whatever you love."
Another reason? Frankly, our pastor seems to have the concept of a bully God. Now, HE wouldn't say so, he would flatly deny it. But that is what comes thru to me when he preaches. It may very well be influenced by my childhood issues about the bully God, but that is often what i hear from him.
That is NOT what my head believes, but i think i'm still struggling with my heart. Believe me, i know how many manifold blessings Duane & i have. I think of them every day. I try to live with an attitude of gratitude today. And i've often thought of & prayed for Sara Frankl today as i know that each & every day she is in extreme pain. Yet, a piece of me still believes that God sends us where we do not want to go, to do what we do not want to do, to talk to people with whom we do not wish to speak, to in some way bring glory to him. And sometimes, yes i think it is true! But i do not believe that such things are intrinsic to the nature of God. I guess i just think that is the way things happen, sometime.
BTW, i ascribe to the explanation that Land of Shrimp posted in a comment a few weeks back:
Long, long ago my dad told me that God would not fix our earthly concerns, but we could turn to God for the support we needed, and the strength we needed to face our earthly concerns. Not fix them necessarily, but face them so that we could continue on.
That pretty much describes my belief, also. I do believe God does miracles & miraculous things happen from time to time, but over all things happen as they happen & God is available to us to support us thru them.
This has sure been a challenging day, however.