There I was two years ago, praying, “God I want to know truth. Can you please reveal Yourself to me? I don’t want to learn culture or traditions. I just want to know YOU.” So starting with the Bible, I set out to challenge the beliefs, culture and traditions I have been schooled in as an Adventist. And what an amazing and refreshing journey it has turned out to be! When you take everything off the table and start over from the Bible, it creates a depth of understanding regarding why you believe what you believe.

One thing that really emerged and has become a huge passion for me over these two years is creating a thirst in the minds and hearts of people, especially children, to seek after God. I have three cousins between the ages of four and eight years old. The more I watch them grow, the more I want them to be attracted to the character of Jesus instead of to Barbie, Sonic, Spiderman and Princesses. I desire for them to be like Jesus, when at 12 years of age, He held preachers, lawyers and scholars in awe of His knowledge of God and truth. I have wondered, why not them, and why not every child? Why is it that they are not empowered to feel that they can know and express their love for God in an intellectual manner? The more I thought about it, the more I saw how exposure determines interest. Television, music, movies, billboards, flyers, apps, and even buses, portray the images of superheroes and princesses as being cool, beautiful and current. Then I thought, do I really see God as beautiful? Do I see God as cool, current and relevant? Sadly enough the answer was no, I don’t! So if I as an adult don’t see God as cool, relevant and current, how can a child?

…at 12 years of age, He held preachers, lawyers and scholars in awe of His knowledge of God and truth

So I started to explore how I see God, and to think about why I see Him the way I do. In this search I found the book, See with New Eyes, by Ty Gibson. From the first chapter, “Meeting My Father,” to the last chapter, “Feel What You See,” I was challenged to examine the traditional, cultural and spiritual roots of what influences how I relate to God. I know this might not sound profound, but I read on page 13 that “love mandates freedom.” The first thought that came into my mind was, God is love, and therefore God mandates freedom. If God is love and love mandates freedom, then God’s words and commandments are not rules of restriction, but rather, rules of LIBERTY. If I could have bounced off walls and the roof at the moment of this realization, I would have. Why? Because as a teen and even as a young adult, I told God that there were aspects of the Bible that I could not resonate with. For those things I would determine how I would deal with them, because His rules did not fit into my reality. At this point, See With New Eyes became my bread and butter for the next few days. Every spare moment I had, I read.

I learned that eternal life can be experienced here on earth. Yes, you read that right. Here and now in this world—because eternal life means to “know God and Jesus Christ” (John 17:3).

I learned that eternal life can be experienced here on earth

I was also challenged to ask myself the question, am I comfortable “looking” like God? If others were to see in me the same characteristics that Christ manifested upon this earth, would I be proud of what they’d see? If not, then why not? And if not, why am I saying I am a Christian? The whole purpose of salvation is so that I can be one with Him just as He was one with the Father (John 17:21-23). Quickly, I realized that I needed to see God with new eyes. If God is not so cool and wonderful that I would want to be like Him, then I have missed the essence of who He is.

The intensity of desiring to love like God loves (1 Corinthians 13) created a pull on my heart to stop being afraid of embracing my true identity, to stop being reluctant to live biblically in a culturally relevant, cool, fresh and modern way, and to stop being shy about taking my identity to the streets—to the corporate sector, to church. And most importantly, for the children I minister to as the Adventurer Club director and Cradle Roll teacher, I believe it is my mission to present God in a new light to children ages 0 to 9.

Elaine Thompson