Faith is not having answers to all my questions about God. It’s more about having unanswered questions – even lots of them – and being able to live happily with the messy mystery that goes along with our friendship.
My guess is that most people tend to think that the person that sees the most miracles is the one with the “biggest faith.” Those with “Super Faith,” argue that the best Christians are the ones with the most answered prayers. These really good Christians recite the right words in their prayers, believe the right things, and get the best results. But to my mind, the most mature faith is the kind which trusts God when you don’t know what’s coming, and don’t claim to know. Faith is when we don’t know what God is going to do, but we know that he knows what he’s doing! Continue reading →
In two recent posts I suggested that we might think of the Creator as sort of like a “Traffic Engineer” who made a system that works for our maximum safety and minimum disasters. I qualified my remarks by admitting that God’s system doesn’t rule out traffic jams and accidents caused by freeway blowouts or wrecks at the hands of reckless drivers. You know I’m using this as a metaphor to describe a God who exercised his sovereign prerogative to invent us with the frightening freedom to choose. Right?
But to take it a little further, let me propose that sometimes he even sovereignly creates traffic jams ahead of us for any number of reasons. Maybe he wants to put us into an inconvenient delay that requires us to develop that dreaded quality called “patience.” (Personally, I’d rather learn it another way.) He might decide to “jam us up” so that we’ll be somewhere we wouldn’t otherwise have been in order to help someone else. I have a friend who got a flat on the highway and led the tow truck driver to Jesus!
I have no doubt that God plans certain gridlocks in order to protect us from accidents ahead or to transport us to certain divine appointments that we didn’t have on our calendars. But I am not at all convinced that he controls everything in his world in that same manner. Some things he “engineers” beforehand (as the Traffic Engineer) and at other times he does his after-the-fact providential thing where he “works in all things for the good of those who love him.”
But that’s not the same as saying he planned everything ahead of time. After we’ve been delayed by roadwork or were rear-ended by another car or experience engine trouble, he may – or may not – step in with a “Plan B” of sorts. His Plan B will at the very least tide us over until Plan Z when he takes us home. Continue reading →
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand.” Job 38:4
I left off in a previous post on “Stuck in Traffic” with a description my near apoplectic plight while stuck in an interminable San Francisco traffic jam. If I’d been driving a Sherman tank I might have been able to clear a path and get to my appointment on time. As it was, in order to keep from getting out of my tiny economy car and leaping atop the cars like they do in the movies, I was forced to stay belted repeatedly reciting “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want!”
That sinking feeling of, “What the *&%$ is going on up there?!” gives way to the point when you don’t really care what’s causing the holdup. You just want it to clear up so you get where you’re going! Nevertheless, I’m the sort that requires, if not a solution, at least some kind of explanation for what’s holding my life up. Where is God when I’m trying to get someplace, especially a place he told me to go? Continue reading →
Call for the wailing womento come; send for the most skillful of them…
Teach your daughters how to wail; teach one another a lament. Jeremiah 9
Rather than beleaguer anyone with a long string of talks on the theme of lamenting I decided to inject them here and there in small doses in order to give you a break from what might at first glance seem like a downer of a theme. Lamenting is not exactly the hot topic of the day. Book titles like Learning the Art of Lament or Weeping Worshippers wouldn’t top the charts at Amazon. If you want to get a crowd, advertise a seminar on “Successful Living” or “Ten Keys to Joy.” “How to Mourn Losses” or “Grieving God’s Way” wouldn’t garner enough sign ups to pay for the hall!
Jeremiah was not-so-fondly viewed as the nation’s buzz kill for his insistence on seeing things as they were, as opposed to as they wished them to be. He raged and wept while they pretended everything was going to be just fine.
Though no one has actually said it outright, the looks I’ve noticed on some faces when I’ve talked up this topic with friends seem to be asking the question, “What good does it do to weep about the world’s problems? It’s like crying over spilt milk, isn’t it? Shouldn’t we be talking about what we can do to improve this place?” Good point. Continue reading →
I used to think my best testimony was when I told someone that God did this miracle or another in me or around me. I supposed the best way to introduce people to God were stories of divine intervention and deliverance . While those are good, I’d say that if he always took all my suffering away I’d only have a testimony of a God who makes things better for us; not in itself a “bad” testimony, but one which has a shorter shelf life. Continue reading →
It began to seem that his blessings were more randomly than uniformly distributed than I had once believed. The “God-always-does-this-and-not-that” approach to which I had previously ascribed didn’t seem nearly as valid as it once had. I used to think that he distributed blessings at more predictable increments along our path. Now it seems like he tosses them out like dice. He doesn’t seem so nearly as “in control” as I had once believed. That’s why I call him the “Sometimes God” and claim that he’s “In control but not controlling.”
He’s the God who watched as one apostle was beheaded, and then shortly afterward, rescued another from the same fate (Acts 12). What’s up with that?! I guess if I knew a conclusive answer to that, I wouldn’t be me – I’d be him, and I’m pretty sure that’s not the case.I’m not even a very good me, let alone a good him.
Anymore it’s not often that I ask him “why” he does what he does. To the why question he usually gives me answers that all pretty much sound like “Trust me.” Over time I’ve become more content not knowing why. I don’t need all the answers as long as I know he has them. I guess I could say that I’m a bit more at ease with his decisions these days. Continue reading →
When I think about God my primary musings have to do with his character.ThoughI have a great appreciation for his capability it’s his character that makes me love him. I don’t love him because he’s omnipotent, omnipresent or omniscient. I’m glad that he can do anything, is everywhere at once, and knows everything there is to know; but what makes him so loveable to me is his character. When he says he’s going to do something, he does it. He isn’t selfish, but loves to help us whenever we let him. He has an impeccable character. It makes me happy to sing: “Holy, holy, holy – merciful and mighty…” He’s both merciful and mighty. He is capable and has character. But I love him not so much for what he can do (his might), but for what he’s like (his mercy)! Continue reading →