The Lord began to reveal His universal love to me about two years ago. In hindsight, I think He has always been revealing it to me but I was too dull to realise. I think God must have been saying, "I'm over here stupid!" to me. lol.
I was brought up in a Word of Faith family, which is not common in the UK, as it seems to be in the USA. So I was brought up to believe, not only in hell but also in the idea that Jesus went to hell and had a fight with the devil. Add to that the idea that Jesus' death and "fight in hell" was not only to save me from hell, but also to make me rich, and you had a very conflicted girl.
As I approached my teens I found myself questioning so much I had been taught, although I always loved Jesus - it was the church I was sick of. I'm naturally quite firey and questioning, however I was living with an extremely physically abusive father, which crushed my character into a shy, victim-like persona. My faith questions rattled around in my head and I didn't have the courage to seek answers.
Halfway through high school, my father exited my life, I began to become 'me' again and the questions started tumbling out. I remember asking my grandmother why we teach Jesus went to hell to fight the devil when it is found nowhere in scripture. I was answered that this is what the "great men of God" teach. This seemed to be a standard answer; that and out of context scriptures. The problem was that all I could see was the "great men of God" getting fat off of the money of poor people and living self indulgently. Rarely was the cross ever preached, unlesss it was to reference what we could get out of it. I also was having recurring nightmares of hell and demons that were so real I could physically feel pain in my sleep.
My mother prayed with me and the dreams left, but I was still so unsatisfied. A God who HAS to burn His children forever, then wants you to be grateful if He offers to not put you in the hell-hole He made, made little sense to me. I kept studying, reading, praying etc for years.
Finally, two years ago, I was driving alone and suddenly began to weep uncontrollably. It was as though every trouble I had inside just came running out. I cried out (when I think back, it sounded like a shriek of pain) "I don't believe it! I don't believe You abandon us! I don't believe your cross was so cheap! I don't believe You died to make us rich! There has to be more than this or I have no wish to keep living." Somehow, I was perfectly safe even though I was driving in a 60mph zone. It was a surreal experience, one that has never repeated.
The only way I can describe it is that it was as though God took all the hurt, confusion, distress and hunger out, and suddenly, I just knew. I knew God loved us astronomically, because He is good, not because we're good. I nknew that real life is to follow Him. And I knew following Him meant to die with Him, live with Him, suffer with Him, reign with Him... That real, fulfilling life was to follow Him to the ends of the earth, wherever He might lead, doing all He said and loving as He loves. I think that is part of our sanctification; that Christ did it all first so that we mere mortals can follow in His footsteps, becoming more like Him as we are crucified with Christ.
I then began to laugh through weeping. It was all lies! The angry, wrathful God of hate was a lie! The cheap, selfish, unsatisfying salvation I'd been taught was a lie! I wanted to yell for happiness, then it was as though my feelings were normalised and I was aware I was driving again (still perfectly safely).
I started to devour the scriptures, seeking for confirmation of what I believed and I found my merciful Father in every page. My family/friends thought, and probably still do, that I was losing my faith. But they were wrong. I was falling in love with Jesus and could not, honestly, start "claiming God's prosperity/car/house/whatever." While searching amazon for more study material, I found a link here and here I am! I'm now praying that God will enable me to "have an answer for the faith within me", so that I can let my family know REAL good news!
Just an aside; it is common online to think all WoF christians are heretics. While I think many charlatons lead this movement, I know my own family really love God and try to be gfaithful to Him.