Friday, August 27, 2010

The Goodness of God

Last weekend I spent a lot of time thinking about one of the issues I have with God at the moment, which has really made me question His goodness.

It started last November when I read this verse in Psalm 121:

“The Lord will keep you from all harm -- he will watch over your life.” (Psalm 121:7 NIV)

In light of some of the things that have happened in my life, the first thought that crossed my mind when I read that verse -- and which I shared with my pastor -- was “what a load of crap!” (Again, my goal here is to be completely transparent with you, so that was my honest reaction. Gratefully, my pastor is not judgmental!)

I can’t tell you how angry that verse made me! And while my pastor explained to me that I needed to put it into context (i.e. remember who the Psalms were written for, and what was taking place in the world at that point in time), it still really made me mad. It also made me really start questioning not only the goodness of God, but if “He” was “the God” I wanted to follow and the One in Whom I wanted to believe. As a result of all my questioning, I completely lost my ability to trust Him.

Can I be honest with you? Even though I’ve believed in God since childhood, during the past 10 months, as I’ve gotten a clearer picture of what has taken place in my life, I’m still not in a place where I’m ready to trust Him 100%. The good news is that none of this comes as a surprise to Him, as He knows my thoughts before I think them, and my words before I say them. ☺

I wish I could tell you that I don’t challenge God to “prove” Himself to me, but that would be a lie. Instead, for the last couple of weeks, I have literally asked Him to reveal Himself -- and His goodness -- to me every single day. And while He has faithfully done so, even now I still cannot yet worship Him as He deserves. However, I am hopeful that one day in the not-too-distant-future I will be able to do so once again!

Have a blessed weekend ...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Empty on the Inside

In an effort to be as transparent as possible, and with the desire to encourage others through my own experiences, I have to be honest with you: I’m really struggling with my faith right now – all the way around.

First of all, I’m struggling physically with a painful issue that I’ve been dealing with off and on for several years now, and which has really kicked into high gear recently. Unfortunately, it is something that cannot be cured by a physician, but instead, falls under the category of Paul’s prayer:

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NIV)

However, if I’m honest with myself -- and with you -- I’m not finding His grace to be sufficient at all right now.

Secondly, as you may have read in my very first blog, back in June I finally discovered what the core struggle of my faith was really about. And while I cannot yet share the details of my struggle, another big challenge I’m having is trying to find my “delight in God.”

I recently read this quote in John Piper’s book, “When I Don’t Desire God”:

"We must delight in God. And only God can change our hearts so that we delight in God."

Unfortunately, I’m not finding any delight in God. Instead, I’m finding myself really being challenged by this quote from Randy Alcorn:

"The almighty God who created us is the same holy God who condemned us as sinners and the same loving God who went to extraordinary lengths that we might go to Heaven."

Ironically, before I ever read that statement, I wrote this in an email to someone earlier this year:

“God created us for Himself, but doesn't need us; Wants to be in relationship with us but won't force it; Wants us to worship Him and have faith in Him, yet will destroy us if we don't believe; Is perfect yet cannot be in relationship with us (even though He created us), without the need to create and send Christ to earth.”

Seriously? You created us; condemned us, and then sent your Son to die for us? What’s up with that?!!

And yet, although I am not finding His grace sufficient, and am unable to find my delight in Him, He continues to be faithful to me through answered prayer.

Last week, in an effort to (hopefully) recreate the intimate relationship He and I have shared in the past, I asked God to show Himself to me through His creation because until a couple of years ago, it was the one way in which I was really able to celebrate His glory.

So, in answer to my prayer, over the past several days He has provided the most amazing cloud formations I’ve ever seen; some absolutely fabulous thunder storms; several rainbows; a double rainbow, and then this afternoon He sent this doe and her fawn to my backyard.

Yet even through all of this, I’m still finding myself unable to worship Him as He deserves to be worshiped.

Truth be told, I miss the close relationship we’ve shared. I miss being in awe of His creation. I miss having a heart of true worship. I miss the simplicity of taking Him at His word no matter what my human mind may tell me.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9 ESV)

But most importantly I miss being able to accept, without question, the fact that …

“Our God is in heaven. He does what he pleases.” (Psalm 115:3 NCV)

So for now, I find myself feeling incredibly empty on the inside. And while I know that we’re not supposed to trust our feelings, as the creative, emotional human being that He made me to be, those feelings are a very strong part of who I am and Whose I am.

Until next time …

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Catching Up

As I continue to recover from the place of complete burnout, exhaustion and crankiness I've been in for the last few weeks, I wish I had some brilliant revelations to share with you, but I don't!

However, I did read this quote the other day (in a book by John Piper), in which he talks about the importance of asking others to pray for us. While I love what he says, I'm also saddened to say that it also represents my heart right now:

"We should to confess to them [others] our struggles, and we should ask them to pray that we would be 'healed' from our half-hearted love for Jesus."

So as I continue to struggle with my complete inability to understand what God is doing in my life right now -- except keep me off-balance -- I would ask you to pray for me, that I can love Him with my whole heart and truly trust that He is, indeed, in control!

Thanks ...