Monday, November 5, 2007

Does God Ever Step Outside His Will?

I can hear it now. Blasphemy! How can you utter such words? Are you still a Christian, Louis? You've been in the ministry for over three decades. How could you?

Exactly my point. I've been in the ministry for almost half my life and I've seen it all. I've seen the best and I've witnessed the worst.

So once again, we ask, does God ever make mistakes? Are you ever truly disappointed with the way your life turned out . . . even though you believe you are in God's will?

To not admit we toy with this question is dishonest. We dare not tell anyone. We're afraid of what others might say. We fear the wrath of God. Yet deep in the recesses of our souls, my question reverberates with yours. Admit it.

It's a mental game, isn't it? Here are the rules. No matter what God allows in your life . . . no matter how bad your life ends up . . . and no matter how miserable you are, God is always right-His will is perfect-and you're always wrong to question Him.

Read the Word of God. Psalm 19:7 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. Matthew 5:48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Sure, you can play around with the Hebrew and Greek so that they refer to God's completeness. Still . . . He is perfect. His will is always correct. . . right?

So stop thinking. Cease all your questioning and get on with your life. Stop complaining.

I can buy that response if I was an atheist. Ultimately I would be responsible for everything that occurs in my life, right? So who's your Daddy? No one. Not God. It's all me. It's life. It's circumstances. Stuff happens! The universe is indifferent to your happiness.

But I am not an atheist.

Here's our dilemma. We have to live in an imperfect universe; fractured people struggling with illness, undeserved suffering and financial woes surround us. Then I am supposed to say, "God's never wrong." Yet deep in my soul, there's this nagging question: Can I really stand behind God as I watch this mother bury her 14-year-old daughter killed in a senseless car accident?

For Christians it can be a one-way conversation. God allows bad stuff to take place and I cannot question Him. Something is not right with this picture.

I know all the prescriptions Christians write out for my disbelief: God allows suffering to accomplish His will, to mold our spiritual character, because of sin and disobedience, since we live in a cursed world and to ultimately give Himself glory when He delivers us . . . if He does.

I guess you can't do much better than these explanations. If you say all disappointment and suffering is our fault and all the blessings belong to God. That’s a cop out. It's circular reasoning. Here's the argument: God is perfect. Whatever He does is perfect. Imperfection is all around us and impacts our lives. Therefore, anything imperfect cannot be from God.

God is off the hook. We are left alone trying to figure this out. Very alone and scared. Yet I wonder if the problem is not really God but the way Christians represent God.

Christians feel they have to defend God so He always looks righteous and perfect. This is where we get into trouble. Does God need us to defend Him? If He allows cancer into the life of an infant, are you going to try to make up some cockamamie explanation because you must run in and save God from embarrassment? I stopped doing that a long time ago.

I was a pastor for many years. I reached a point where I looked at all the hurt and disappointment and could no longer try to explain God to people. He has to get His own defense attorney . . . Himself. I'd rather live with mysteries in the universe rather than offer someone a cliché about tragedies that come into their lives.

Perhaps the best explanation for those times when we wonder if God has stepped over His own boundary line is, "I really don't know why you're going through this horrific time." Rather than take the risk of saying something stupid and superficial, this is the better approach.

No, I do not believe God makes mistakes. But I don't believe it is up to us to front God with a reason or explanation for our suffering. Regardless of the insights offered to Job by his three friends, it was only when Job himself went toe-to-toe with the Lord that the patriarch received his answer. God's response was not too pretty, but at least it came from the Lord Himself. It's a lot better than a bunch of Biblical speculators starting each sentence with "Maybe God is trying to . . . or Maybe He is teaching you . . . When we remove the "maybes' from our spiritual vocabulary and wait on God to hear His voice, then we're cooking.

It's not that God makes mistakes; it's when we try to explain or defend Him we make Him look like He doesn't know what He's doing.

I would love to hear what you have to say. Maybe . . .

1 comment:

Annette Beason said...

You have to have your own relationship with God to get those kind of answers. And sometimes that's the best answer you can give someone.