Do you care what God thinks about your behavior? Or do you feel like he’s let you down one too many times and you’ve earned the right to make your own decisions without his pesky guilt trying to trip you up?

The funny thing about God is if you ask him to leave you alone, he usually will. I’ve seen plenty of situations where he has chased someone down, but most of the time, those people were desperately searching for something. God stepped in and gently reminded them that what they were searching for was Him.

It’s the other times I’m talking about. Those times when we say, “No God. You don’t get a vote. You didn’t show up when I needed you and now I don’t trust you. I’m doing this on my own.”

I went through a phase in college and my early adulthood where I volleyed between two courts when it came to my thoughts on God.

In one court, I was distrustful of God. I couldn’t imagine that if he were actually here and good then he would have allowed so much pain to enter my life and the lives of people I love. Some of that pain was of my own creation, but much of it wasn’t. It didn’t feel fair. Shouldn’t God at least be fair? And if I’m His beloved creation, shouldn’t I be shown a little favor?

Then occasionally the ball would volley over to the other side of my brain, where I was pretty sure God existed and pretty sure he was good, but I knew I was not. My behavior and choices and decisions were so far from what I knew I should be doing that I couldn’t imagine God would want to be anywhere near me. I was too far from his reach.

To paraphrase a thought from Pastor Andy Stanley, instead of letting my belief system determine my behavior (and cleaning up my act), I let my behavior determine my beliefs. If I didn’t follow God, I didn’t have to carry around the nagging reminder that I was making choices that would break His heart.

I had religion for decades before I ever had a relationship with God. It wasn’t until I became friends with a woman who was so sure about his existence and so enthusiastic about his goodness that I was truly able to approach God and say, “Will you show me how this works?”

I didn’t know how to be a Jesus follower, I only knew how to be a rule follower (or a rule breaker). It took me a long time to see the difference, but once I did, God was awfully good about going back to my original doubts and clearing them up once and for all.

Those times when I wondered where God was? He finally gave me peace. I didn’t have anymore answers than before, but I was able to lift up those temporary troubles against the reality of eternity and realize there was no way I could know the longterm outcome of His plans.

Those times when I was certain I was beyond God’s reach? Nah. I am so loved and so forgiven that I don’t even identify with the young woman I was when I made those bad decisions.

I have a heart for people who are waffling about God’s existence or goodness because I was one of those people. If you are there today, how about you just start by asking him, “Will you show me how this works?” I am certain that is a prayer he will be glad to answer.