Monday, July 20, 2009

Is Your God Neatly Packed in a Very Small Box?

How can Israel's King David write, "O Lord my God, in Thee I have taken refuge" (Psalm 7:1) and then a few psalms later he pens, "How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?" (Psalm 13:1). Was David bipolar, having bouts with manic depression or just confused?

Actually, I believe King David was quite normal. In fact, he's almost too normal for many followers of the God of the Bible. Many religious people have grabbed on to the position that the true believer should never question God. Listen to Palm 22:2, "O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer." Even Psalm 28:1 can be a bit hair-raising, "To Thee, O Lord, I call. My rock, do not be deaf to me." Why would the psalmist entertain such a thought that God would turn a deaf ear to him, a man after God's own heart? Was there something wrong with David's faith?

If I wrote these verses in a letter or an article and made it seem the words came from my own heart, many Christians would wonder if I am still walking with the Lord. But because David said these words, we are caught in a quandary. Can a man who has faith in the Lord, ever doubt God or even wonder if God hears his prayers or whether the Lord is hiding from him?

To those who claim to have faith, never question God nor are ever disappointed with your circumstances in life and are too afraid to admit your grief, I maintain your faith is robotic and untested. Your faith is packaged in a small box in which God is neatly figured out and boxed in by a fortress of Bible verses that only show one side of God. You are too afraid to look at the verses where men and women of God have questioned Him and cried out in pain to the Lord wondering if He cares. Perhaps your faith is an immature faith, well supported with Scriptures, but with only select passages and only with life experiences that you choose to look at.

If your faith in God is wrapped up in a box where God does not allow harm to come your way - miscarriages, chronic pain, job loss, relational pain - then your trust in Him is very weak. Only a faith that stands before God that is honest, real and transparent is a faith that reflects the trust of a man with a heart for God. Think of it, as you go through the Psalms and read David's continual questioning and even complaining before God often followed by his restored praise in God, remember that David is called a man after God's heart. That's right. He's an honest man. A man who can't keep silent about the evil that comes his way even though he remains faithful to God.

If David were alive today and stood in the pulpit of many churches and gave a sermon in which he asked why does God allow the unrighteous to prosper or why the Lord remains silent (Psalm 35) while wicked people contended with David, I'd be sure David would not be asked to speak again. Why? Because David and his Psalms kick out the sides of the box we try to fit God into. David's relationship with God is too real for many of us.

The King of Israel utters words we'd be too afraid to ever speak. That is why, my friend, our faith is weak and often useless in confronting the evils of this world. Instead, we have a faith that can only survive in a Bible studies, worship services and small groups where "real life" does not often take place. Real faith only becomes real on Monday morning when we are willing to admit, "Why, O Lord, do I have to work with these people?" or "Lord, how long will I live without a job and struggle financially? Don't you care for your child's needs?" Those are the words God awaits to hear because it is in the midst of these words, God comes to our hearts. He enthrones Himself on the seat of an honest spirit not upon one which a God sits that does not reflect the God of the Bible.

Take your pick: either keep God in a small box or start becoming honest with Him and let Him define who He is to you even in the face of unresolved pain.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like exactly what I wanted to hear.
Thank Dad.
Glad to know that I share views with the great King of Israel... at least as far as not keeping God in the box of propriety.
People love to tell me they think I'M wrong when I get frustrated and vent my anger.. "I must be a bitter and angry person..." .. ya... but YOU KNOW WHAT?!?! People can GO READ PSALMS and see for themselves!!
I'm not even saying that God abandoned me.. I'm just saying that I'm sick of some people and I am going to vent that out there.
It was on FACEBOOK for crying OUT LOUD!!! It's not like it's going in a book that people will read for generations to come, like..say..the BIBLE!!!

... anyway...
thanks Dad.. exactly what I needed to hear.
Love you!

Louis Lapides said...

You're welcome Chandra . . . my only daughter. I'm just speaking the truth. People need to see that the characters in the Bible are very real. And believe it or not, so is God. If not we would have to keep our true feelings hidden from Him and that is not a relationship. Thanks for your kind words. They mean a lot to me . . . coming from my daughter-in-law.
Love you too!

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!