I had this experience several years ago but was recently reminded of it.
It had been a difficult day. Instead of feeling warmth and love or even friendship towards the people I encountered, I was frustrated and basically tired of them. I felt ignored and rejected, that I had no way to communicate with them, no common bond of heart. I might not have actually wished them all to hell, but I was getting close!
Behind the small supermarket where I was working there was a hill. A trail led up through the trees and I decided to take a break and go up there, hoping to discover God’s heart towards these awful people I had been dealing with for hours.
I walked up the trail a ways and found a spot looking out over the parking lot behind the supermarket. I could see the people going in and out of the store, loading their purchases in their cars and driving off. I knew they couldn’t see me. I felt very distant from them, now not just in heart but also physically distant.
I began to pray, seeking to find God’s heart towards these people, and if possible to change my heart to be closer to His.
As I prayed I began to feel the presence of God, a warm heart of love towards all those little people down there. They seemed to shrink and become more distant physically, yet the feeling of love grew stronger.
Then the scene changed. At first I didn’t know what I was seeing, but it felt like I was in the audience at a play and my child was one of the actors. I felt anticipation and eagerness for my child to appear on stage. Suddenly I saw him, and I felt God’s pride and joy, “There he is, isn’t he wonderful, so handsome, standing there, ready to play his part.” I could feel God wanting to clap and cheer.
Then His son turned and bent down to pick up something. It was very heavy. Finally he was able to get up again and I realized it was a large wooden cross. God was watching Jesus walking towards his crucifixion.
I felt God’s pride with every step Jesus took. When he looked at the people in the crowd watching and following him, God was proud of the compassion Jesus showed. When he stumbled God held His breath. Then someone came forward and helped him. God was so grateful.
As they reached the top of the hill, God was so proud of his son. I felt his eager anticipation. Then the soldiers nailed him to the cross and God felt the pain. As they raised the cross and mocked Jesus, God’s feelings began to change. He was worried. “Why are they saying such things? Don’t they know who he is?” God was asking.
“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
God heard His son. But He was in pain. “Why does no-one help him? This can’t be happening!”
I felt God’s joy and pride in His son, and His shock that this was happening. All the way God had been expecting someone to come forward and save His son. But no-one had stepped up. Until the last minute He had hoped. But now Jesus was close to death. God couldn’t bear it. He turned away.
“My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” Jesus cried out. Then he died.
God cried out in agony. The people heard a great clap of thunder and it became dark. The veil in the temple was ripped in two. God’s pain was so great.
Then God turned back to see the women weeping at Jesus’ feet and He felt comforted. I knew that God would never abandon His people, even though His son was dead. His love was greater than that.
The scene faded and I found myself looking down at the parking lot outside the little supermarket. Slowly I walked back down the hill, still feeling the parental heart of God.