Sunday, October 10, 2010

God In a Box? Not!

This morning, our pastor finished the sermon series, "Fearless," based on Max Lucado's book by the same name. This chapter/sermon describe much of my spiritual journey the past few years... "Fear of Getting God Out of the Box!"

Both Max and my pastor talk about Jesus and the transfiguration. Jesus blew away the box that Peter, James and John had him in prior to Mount Hermon. Lucado describes it as Jesus peeling back his epidermis. He quotes Thomas Howard, saying that Jesus revealed himself as, "a towering and furious figure who will not be managed." I love those word pictures of my Jesus! He will NOT be put in a box (no matter how hard I try)!

As my pastor encouraged us to let God out of the boxes we put him in--our expectations and misperceptions of Him--I wanted to try to put a name to my box. The box I securely kept God in until the past few years was, "Being good = Smooth life." In other words, "If I do everything right, checking off all my boxes of good spiritual disciplines, God will answer all my prayers the way I expect them to be answered."

Without realizing it, I had major expectations on the ways I wanted God to answer my prayers. When they didn't match up, I had a huge spiritual crisis. It took ten years and three major family crises before it erupted into a full-blown crisis of faith.

We had always had regular family issues, but, being an eternal optimist (or the queen of denial depending on how you look at it), I prayerfully stuck my head in the sand and waited for things to work themselves out. "This too shall pass," I would say. I believed that one day God would show up and life would be perfect!

When I realized that things were not passing, or if one did, a worse issue replaced it... when life on planet earth was not getting better... when my daughter's life on planet earth actually ended... when my son's problems went from typical teenage rebellion to serious addiction... when my granddaughter was placed in foster care and I had no say in the matter... I lost it! I really lost it!

My husband and others tried to encourage me by saying, "God is in control." In my rage, I said things like, "I'm sick of God being in control because He's not doing a very good job!"

I know, I can see the headlines now, "Crazy Woman on the Verge of Blasphemy Gets Struck by Lightning!" And I so deserved that! But God, in His infinite mercy, did not strike me dead. Neither did He budge and make everything go my way. What He did do was reveal a little more of himself to me. I had no choice but to get him out of the box I had worked so diligently to keep Him in. I could no longer stand on the lid of that box spouting empty words of "faith" that pointed more toward my good works than to God's faithfulness. He was out of that box and there was no getting Him back in.

Through all that, the following revelations became clear to me...
  • God is in control and I am not! (stunning, I know)
  • God is not going to answer my prayers according to my will, but according to His
  • God may allow me and those I love to get hurt or even die as He answers my prayers
  • The smooth life won't come this side of heaven. That's a bummer, I know, but this short life on earth is but a blink compared to eternity. I'd rather have a blink of discomfort and an eternity of comfort than the other way around!
These may not be major revelations to you, but they were to me. I am just thankful to know that, no matter what happens, God is with me, and nothing this life throws at me can take that away. And that is My Unswerving Hope!

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!