Ok, so before everyone starts thinking I had some existential crisis and went off the deep end, I need to explain this thought, because it’s been nagging at me a little these days.
My question isn’t “does God exist?” My question is “does the God that I am worshiping exist?”
Let me start by saying that when I became a Christian at the age of 23, I didn’t know God. Not for who He really is. I had just experienced His grace (there’s a reason we call it amazing!) and forgiveness through His son Jesus, but I didn’t really know God.
There’s a tendency for us to make God what we want Him to be and then get frustrated when He doesn’t come through for us the way that we think He should. That’s not really fair, is it? It’s easy to get mad at Him when we are viewing Him as a genie up in the clouds just waiting to grant our wishes. I mean, it is all about us, right??
Not at all. The glorious thing about Christianity is that once we accept Christ, we surrender our lives to His leading and we are to now live solely for others. It’s our job, our mission, our purpose to share our testimonies! We can’t control if people listen, we can’t control if people think we’re dumb, or brainwashed, or “judgy”, we can only plant seeds and pray to God that they grow. Whether or not we are there to see it. (But Christians, let’s remember, we aren’t here to judge the world, we are here to love each other and to share the love of Christ with those who don’t know Him. Just sayin…)
I found as I started on this journey that I had a lot to learn. So what was I doing wrong before? I was placing parameters on a limitless God! I was expecting things from Him that He never promised to me. God is faithful, He always comes through on His promises, it’s just that I didn’t know what His promises really were.
When we see God, not as a genie who is under our control, but as our benevolent creator who knows our hearts and loves us more deeply than we could ever imagine, then we begin to taste the joy that living in His purpose creates. Suddenly, suffering doesn’t seem so dark and lonely when we see that it can be used for something greater. Trust me when I say, I am familiar with physical suffering these days. Also, the mental and emotional anguish that having a young family and stage 4 cancer presents can be overwhelming and exhausting. But I want my story to produce fruit. I want people to see God’s goodness in this. I want people to see how even though there are bad days, there is always joy.
For me, peace sometimes gives way to anxiety, but God has given us tools for when that happens: His word, His Spirit, and fellowship with His body of believers.
And this is what it boils down to: God is who He is. Seems obvious, right? But let that sink in. God is who He is and we cannot change Him. You can get mad at Him, you can stomp and cry and scream about it, you can tell Christians how dumb we are for believing, but that doesn’t change God. Lucky for us, God is good. He is faithful, unchanging, and trustworthy. He wouldn’t necessarily have to be, but He is. And that is so awesome. But in our western civilization, we think that means that God should provide for us every selfish desire of our hearts, that it’s His responsibility to make sure that we’re happy and comfortable and that life is easy and smooth.
Sorry Charlie, that’s just not how it works.
When I get frustrated with God, it’s because I am lacking discipline and discernment in following Him. When I can’t see Him, it’s because I’m not seeking Him. He will give us as much of Him as we want. We are meant to know God. I personally think that’s amazing. He doesn’t owe us that, in fact, He doesn’t owe us anything, it’s our arrogance and sense of entitlement that would lead us to believe that He does.
Don’t get me wrong, I believe there is validity in the question “why would God allow this?” Because if you are a professing believer, there is nothing that will happen to you that God didn’t know about. Does that make Him cruel or sadistic? No, not at all. It makes us a valued member of a greater plan. It makes us rely on Him. And when we can work through those feelings of anger and hopelessness, we can begin to see the bigger picture.
Once I realized that the God that I had made up in my head and the one, true God were quite different, that’s when things got better on my faith journey. That’s when I became sensitive to His Spirit and that’s when I began to entertain the concept of really knowing Him. That’s when I was able to step back and look at life’s sufferings not as a curse, but as an honor.
When I make my cancer all about me, it’s a sad little story, that’s for sure. But when it’s about God, it becomes something beautiful and something useable. I don’t have to necessarily like it! Something tells me that Jesus didn’t necessarily like being up on that cross, but when there’s acceptance and a vision that looks beyond how these things affect ourselves only, then there can be peace and joy in the suffering.
Peter tells us, “So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer too…You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God.” (1 Peter 4:1-2 NLT) BOOM!! I really didn’t have to write any of all that previous babble because Peter states it so perfectly.
Allow me to paraphrase: You’re gonna suffer, but it’s not about you. Suck it up, buttercup! Can you trust God with this?
That’s up to you. I don’t know what you’re going through or what is in your past, but I believe that God wants us to use these things.
How do we get to know Him? What do we do? For one, let’s dust off our Bibles and READ! Let’s get our butts to church! And let’s get connected with other believers. Suddenly the puzzle will start to fit together and a bigger picture will be seen. Let’s do this!
I just need to say, my intention is not to convert people who have no interest in a faith-based life. If that should happen, I would love it and would celebrate with them for, well, eternity. But my interest, at least for right now, is in encouraging those people who are considering the possibility that there is a God, and also in encouraging those who have said yes but are maybe at a standstill in their journey or who are struggling with their faith. I want to be a resource in any way I can.
I’m not claiming perfection in my walk or that I have a corner on some insight that no one else has. I’m just about as normal as they come! I just like to write what’s on my heart, and well, this is it.
Buck & Mater, just for fun (: