What I Didn't Understand
I've loved Jesus for a long time now. Next summer it will be ten years since that summer when I realized I wanted to know him. I spent all of high school being a church girl and attended a Christian college where I majored in Biblical studies. So that's why it seems so odd to me that I would struggle lately with believing the Bible. So elementary.
And yet, its true. The past 6 months or so have been a challenging little season for us and even though I love God as much as ever, I've come to find out that I didn't emerge from it all without some wounds. Namely, my child-like trust in God's word.
I read something in a book by C.S. Lewis (A Grief Observed) that so perfectly explained what I have been feeling. He said, "My idea of God is not a divine idea. It has to be shattered time after time. He shatters it Himself. He is the great iconoclast." Because that's just it. It's not that I don't trust and love God anymore, its that I don't know how to understand him anymore. My ideas were shattered. I thought I was headed in one direction; I found myself suddenly facing the other way. I was expecting one thing; I got another.
I had spent a lot of time reading scriptures and praying them back to God. I was literally claiming the promises that I read and calling upon him to be true to all the things he said about himself. Why wouldn't he, right? If only I had faith, if only I would call upon him, he will heal and deliver and rescue! And not only that, but things began to happen when I prayed. I started finding connections in the scriptures I would read, crazy similarities in what others were praying for us, real signs of things beginning to change... I took it all as confirmation that God was accepting our prayers and ready to act in our behalf.
But then he didn't.
So, what was I supposed to believe about all those verses then? All those declarations and expectations. Honestly, I felt a little like a fool. Like the devil was having the time of his life laughing at me in my shocked disappointment. I kept reading the Bible, nearly the first thing I read was Psalm 34:5- "Those who look to him are radiant. Their faces are never covered with shame." Okay, Lord. I'm not a fool; I'm not ashamed. But I'm completely confused.
I continued to cling to scripture. If my "idea" of God has been shattered, then I needed to rebuild. But, how? How am I supposed to accept and understand these verses that don't make sense anymore? When I read my Bible, I heard a nagging voice in the back of my mind.
He will send from heaven and save me. Sometimes.
He has delivered me from every trouble. But not really.
He will never permit the righteous to be moved. Except when he does.
I know we're promised trouble on earth, I know this world is not our home, I know that trials produce perseverance. But then why all those verses about he will heal, he does save? I was wanting nothing less than a completely biblical understanding of trials and God's intervention in our suffering, so I just didn't know how to handle the declarations about God that didn't seem to be true all of the time.
So this morning I prayed (again), Lord, I just feel conflicted when I read these invincible Psalms that declare how you protect and deliver your people.
And I thought of Annika.
My sweet little daughter, Annika. If she were to declare things about my love for her, what kind of things might she say about me?
You stop doing dishes to dance with me.
You give me chocolate, just because you love me.
You clean my playroom when I forget to do it.
You let me make mistakes without spanking me.
You hold me when I cry.
You cuddle me in the rocking chair when I'm lonely.
The idea is, all of these things are true about me and my relationship with her. But that doesn't mean that they are to be understood as absolutes, and that if I didn't express my love for her in that way in a specific moment, that it suddenly negates the "trueness" of that thing.
Sometimes I don't stop what I'm doing when she wants to play, because I'm loving her in a different way by folding her laundry, cooking her meals, cleaning the house. Sometimes I clean her playroom when she forgets to do it herself, but sometimes I confiscate the toys (as is the deal) because I'm trying to teach her about responsibility. Sometimes I give attention to her tears, sometimes I insist she stop crying. Sometimes I give grace, sometimes I give justice, sometimes I step back and do nothing at all.
When David says, "He will send from heaven and save me!" He is saying My God is a God who saves. When he declares that God rescues and provides for him, he is calling God a Rescuer and a Provider.
Just because I don't always drop what I'm doing to play dinosaurs or dance to Stevie Wonder doesn't mean that I'm not the kind of Mom who does that. I am that kind of Mom. It's true. She can declare it!
There is nothing in God's word that isn't true all of the time. He may not always heal, but he is always a Healer. He may not always rescue me out of my troubles, but he is a Rescuer. I can still rejoice in that.
For I am the Lord, I do not change.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
He is the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.