Thursday, April 7, 2011

God trusts Himself

It occurred to me today: God trusts Himself.

That is probably a weird way to say it, and not quite exactly right.

However, God is never worried. He is never worried, because He is absolutely sovereign, meaning that He has complete power and authority over everything. Everything. In addition, He has complete wisdom and knowledge of the past, present and future. And He is perfect. His information is perfect. His judgment is perfect. His execution is perfect. He always knows what is best in the long run because, as the Bible says, He knows the end from the beginning.

So whenever God acts, He has complete confidence that He is doing the right thing, and that ultimately this act will reveal His glory for the benefit and joy of His people. Wow. I certainly do not have that confidence when I act. I question myself and second-guess myself and torture myself with "should haves" and "if onlies." This is further proof not only that I am not God, but that I am utterly unqualified to be God and should rest in the grace that He has allowed me just to be me, and just to do the job of being a child of His kingdom. I do not have to be God. I am not responsible for the universe. I am not even responsible for my kids' commute home from college.

I have a hard time trusting God, not because I don't believe in His perfect power. I believe that He is almighty. I believe that He is omniscient. I believe that He is perfect, that He never makes a mistake. I believe that He is good. I even believe that He loves me. At least, I believe He loves me when I sit down and think about it. He has left pretty undeniable evidence that He loves me. He died for my sins. He promises His love over and over in His word. He has cared for me throughout my life, and protected me from harm on many occasions. I know He loves me.

But, regardless of how true I know it to be, my faith tends to falter when it comes to the fact that God loves me and that He plans good for me.

I think, "Yeah. Tough love. He loves me with tough love. And He plans good for me, but the good ends will be a long time coming. There is a lot of suffering that I'm going to have to endure before I get to the good part."

It isn't that I don't believe. I do believe. It isn't that I am tempted to throw in the towel and give up the quest. There is no other God, I am convinced of that. He is the only true God, and He is the sovereign ruler of the universe, and there is no point in searching for some more palatable, effortless alternative.

I just don't like pain. And I am convinced that there is a great deal of pain between here and heaven. I'm scared of pain. I fall apart when I don't feel good, when I am hurting. I am really bad at suffering patiently. This probably means that I need to practice suffering until I learn to face it patiently. Augh. That's what I mean. I don't like being disciplined by God.

The Bible says that God disciplines the sons He loves, and we should rejoice that His discipline proves His love for us and our importance to Him (that is a very loose paraphrase of part of Hebrews 12).

Sometimes I just feel tired and worn out. I wish I were mature and gracious, wise and calm. But I am a slow grower. In the world of spiritual children, I think I have a learning disability. I struggle with bitterness, unforgiveness, disappointment, laziness and even despair. I don't have a lot of joy... just being real and putting that out there. If God gave report cards, my joy grade would probably be about a D+, and I might be overgenerous to say that. Jesus came that I might have life and joy, abundantly. But it seems like I feel sad more than I feel happy, defeated more than victorious.

I sit around longing for someone to treat me gently, but I don't think I have learned to treat others with gentleness. That is an attribute of God that I struggle to comprehend: God is gentle. A bruised reed He will not break, His word says. And then I think, "Ha! I'm so self-centered to think that I should be considered a bruised reed. I am probably a reed who needs some bruising."

What I need:

(1) I need to really grasp the deep and beautiful truth of what Jesus did for me at the cross and how that demonstrates His love for me. I need to do more than understand and believe this. I need to feel it in my heart. I don't know how to feel this in my heart. I can read the accounts in the Bible and reason my way through it again and again, but I need to feel it in my heart. My emotions need to experience, first-hand, the forgiveness of the Lord so that I can be loving and forgiving towards others. There are days when I do, but I can't seem to sustain a constant sense of wonder and gratitude for His love. I think there is part of me that just can't bear to feel that much, and so my emotions shut down.

(2) I need to rest in Jesus. I need to stop striving on my own to accomplish things... to clean my house (it isn't getting done), to prepare for holiday celebrations, to fellowship with my family. These things can only happen if I rest in Jesus and stop striving in angst.

(3) I need to overcome my laziness. Although there is a real and important aspect of resting in Him, there is also a need for my spirit to strive in synergy with His Spirit to accomplish His will in my life. I am not an inert machine for Him to run, I am a responsive human whom He fashioned. This is so hard for me to understand. What is my responsibility, exactly, and how do I fulfill it? I wish I knew. I wish, I wish I knew.

So much to work on.

But at the end of the day, God really does trust Himself. He made the world and everything in it. He planned, before the foundations of the earth, that Jesus would be our Savior, so obviously He knew all about why we would need a Savior. He has written all the days He ordained for me in His book, before one of them came to be. He foreknew me, predestined me, called me, and justified me, and in the end He will glorify me. These are all promises from His word, and God always keeps His promises, because He is perfectly faithful. If God trusts Himself, I can trust Him. I can trust Him because He is able to give me the faith I need to be able to do so.

Matthew 11:28 says, "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."

Really? Please?

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