Dear God, (Are You Sure) You Don’t Mess Up

I could feel the pain radiating off of her as I moved closer, putting my arm around her slumped shoulders.

“It just doesn’t make sense,” she muttered. “Why did it have to happen this way? What’s the point of hoping; of trying at all if God already has His master plan in place?”

My mind scrambled for an answer. Surely there was an answer that could satisfy her questioning; that would help her see that God was still good, even when the world hurt so bad.

“I don’t really know,” I said.

That’s it!? That’s the best you can come up with? My own thoughts betrayed me now as insecurity and doubt flooded my mind. You’re no help at all.

I shuddered, as if trying to shake free from the lies and accusations.

I could offer no answer. Even after years of studying and growing, I still did not know why life had to hurt so much; why God allowed certain things to happen; why He made us the way that He did – fragile and vulnerable and weak.

As we kept talking, I felt the old question simmering beneath all the theology and doctrine and ‘right’ answers – ‘oh God, are you sure you don’t mess up?’

I recently heard a song that explored this same line of questioning. In an interview, artist Hunter Hayes explains that ‘we wouldn’t honestly ask this question if we weren’t already certain of the answer. We know that God doesn’t mess up. If the opposite were even remotely possible, it would be a reality far too frightening to even consider.’ (Dear God, 2018)

So we ask the question as if to remind ourselves that He doesn’t mess up; that He didn’t mess us on us or His plans.

Doubt still overwhelms us though, doesn’t it? We still have unanswered questions. There are still doors that we’ve knocked on for years that remain closed; open-ended prayers that have yet to receive their ‘amen.’

I could see her disassociating herself now; drawing back into her autonomy and retreating deep into the recesses of her own mind. Fear and pain and the lack of answers has a way of convincing us that we’re better off on our own.

She didn’t draw back out of anger though. It wasn’t even out of pride or arrogance. She wasn’t shaking her fist at God, she was shaking her fist at herself. She was humiliated.

How could she ask such accusing questions of the One she loved? How could she be hurt by the One she trusted? Who was she to question the Perfect One?

You see, we don’t ask such a question to examine the character of God. No, we ask a question like this in examination of ourselves; knowing deep down that we have not lived up to the indescribable glory and perfection of the One who made us and calls us His own and that we never will.

Maybe that’s why we become so confused and frustrated by the way God created us. He made us this way after all, didn’t he? ‘He made us fragile. He made a heart that could break. He set us on the road less travelled knowing full well that we would run away.’ (Dear God, 2018)

Why, oh why God did you make me this way? Are you sure there’s nothing wrong with me?

I wish I could offer some kind of resolution to these questions; writing with conviction about how everything happens for a reason. The thing is though, these questions and doubts are not incompatible with faith like we might think they are. We don’t have to distance ourselves from God and faith just because we’re hurting and confused.

Consider the father in Mark 9:22-24 (NIV), pleading with Jesus to heal his son.

“But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

“‘If you can’?” Jesus said. “Everything is possible for the one who believes.”

This father knew that Jesus could rescue his son. Why else would he have travelled as far as he did and fought to gain and audience with Him? He still questioned Jesus’ goodness though; he still struggled with doubt and uncertainty.

The father in this story, much like us all, found himself stuck in doubt even when in the presence of Jesus himself. In response to Jesus’ gentle rebuke, the boy’s father immediately exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Are you stuck in doubt? Do you still find yourself asking that question; wondering if there might be something wrong with you, even though you know that God doesn’t mess up?

Do you believe, yet still struggle with unbelief?

Cry out to God! He hears you and He loves you. Don’t let those questions and doubts keep you from pressing into Him; into His truth and His love that does not weaken in the presence of unbelief.

This father wrestled with unbelief, but he came running nonetheless. He ran into the arms of his Father despite the doubts and fears that tried to keep him away.

Even when you don’t understand, run to Him, your loving Father and trust that He remains true to His character and does not mess up.

The Walls Came Tumbling Down

A good portion of my middle school and high school summers were spent at Timberlake Ranch Camp.

While I’ve never been too good with heights, I have gotten a lot better over the years. When I was younger though, I was absolutely terrified of heights, which is why I very distinctly remember the day that our cabin spent the afternoon at the ropes course.

I was fine with sitting off on the side watching everyone else suspend at what seemed like great, great heights (in hindsight, I guess they weren’t really that high), but my cabin leader wasn’t about to let that happen.

Next thing I knew I was being strapped into a harness as I fearfully (and probably tearfully) looked up and down this massive rock wall that I was supposed to scale.

Yeah, right.

We’ll just say that it took me for-e-ver and leave it at that.

When I think back on that moment as I looked up and down that wall, I remember feeling so tiny; almost helpless.

Perhaps this was how Joshua felt as he approached the looming wall of Jericho.

The challenge before him seemed so massive up against the very simple, almost humorously meek instructions he had been given.

The rock wall I faced seemed massive while the encouragement and instruction my cabin leader gave seemed almost too simple – just one step after the other.

That was it!?

“March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. On the sevenths day, march around the city seven times…when you hear a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up…” (Joshua 6:3-5).

Just one step after the other.

The mundane and routine nature of these instructions given to Joshua lacked any and all zeal or passion. They simply had to take a walk.

Where was the challenge in that?

Better yet, where was the awesome story that he would get to tell all of his buddies afterwards?

These instructions not only lacked excitement and challenge, but they also lacked any means by which to gain personal glory or recognition for Joshua and his people.

In fact, their job was almost embarrassing it was so simple.

Perhaps the mundane nature of God’s instructions for His people served two very important purposes –

  1. To point His people to the true source of their zeal and passion; and
  2. To place 100% of the glory for this victory at the feet of Jesus Christ.

Romans 12:11 tells us to never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Our zeal should never come from what we are capable of doing on our own but rather from the knowledge that He has never failed us and He won’t start now.

We simply have to serve the Lord, taking one step after the other, and He will do the rest.

When the task at hand seems too big for the meek instructions given, our zeal should not falter. If grounded and rooted deep in the knowledge that we serve a God who cannot fail, our zeal will forever burn within our souls, lighting our passions with an all-consuming fire.

Even when our steps of submission, one after the other, seem fruitless, we can march forth in the confidence that God does not waste our obedience.

This concept goes far beyond a mere rock wall at summer camp though.

We all have some pretty serious walls that we are facing, don’t we?

Perfectionism.

Expectations. 

Comparisons.

Discontentment.

Pride.

Frenzy and Busyness.

These are all walls that I have faced and some that I am currently facing today.

My perfectionism, for example has caused me to believe that I simply cannot afford to make a mistake.

This is something that I struggle with in many facets of my life, including work, service, ministry, and relationships.

I often find myself daily dealing with ‘paralysis by analysis,’ which in turn creates a very busy and almost panicked lifestyle.

We all have walls, and though “days one through six” might be painful, routine, and seemingly fruitless, we can still place one foot in front of the other in full confidence that God still stands.

Even if you find yourself still looking up and down your wall, remember that you are always in the hands of God.

When these walls remain resolute in our lives as we obediently and prayerfully seek to change our behaviors, instead of turning inward and wondering what is wrong with us, we should instead praise God!

Praise Him for putting walls in your life that cause you to fall to your knees.

And as we praise Him, remember the walls that He has destroyed in the past.

Look back and remember all the trials He has guided you through with His loving, gentle hands and believe that you will see Him do it again!

When those walls do fall though and the destructive behaviors that have for the longest time kept your from God’s passion and dream for your life fade away, it is very important that you follow God’s instructions found in Joshua 6:18.

But keep away from the devoted things, so that you will not bring about your own destruction by taking any of them. Otherwise you will make the camp of Israel liable to destruction and bring trouble on it.

When God destroys our walls on “day seven,” no remnant can remain.

This means that after “seven days” of surrender and obedience to Christ when my wall of perfectionism is finally destroyed, I cannot continue holding onto those old behaviors.

I will be tempted as I’m sure the Israelites were tempted to take the gold and silver for their own, but their devotion and complete surrender to the Lord was necessary in the total destruction of the city, which in turn gave passageway to the Promised Land.

God has a sure path to get you from where you are right now to His passion and His dream for your life.

There will be some walls along the way, but remain faithful.

Trust that God will work through the mundane days, even when they might seem fruitless.

And when “day seven” finally does arrive and you see redemption play out before your very eyes, surrender entirely.

Hold nothing back. Let those destructive behaviors and habits go, whatever they may be – perfectionism, doubt, constant need for control, sarcasm, busyness, solitude, pride, etc.

Whatever behavior it might be, surrender it completely to God, devoting all that remains to Him and His glory and watch as your walls come tumbling down.

 

Some of the ideas for this blog post came from a sermon I listened to a couple weeks ago by Pastor Jeff at New Life Church. Check out this link if you’d like to listen to the sermon – http://mynewlifechurch.com/series/playlist/

Bridging the Gap

I remember watching this video for the first time. I had to have been a freshman or sophomore in high school and I remember one line in particular really stood out to me. It didn’t stick in my memory because I related to it, but rather because I couldn’t relate to it.

You are never too much, and you are always enough.

Too much? Enough?

Up until then I had never felt as if I were too much and had for the most part always felt like I had a lot to offer.

However, several years later, one too many heartaches and a few too many tears brought with them an awareness; a painful awareness of my own seemingly problematic complexity.

One too many minutes of looking in the mirror, a few too many numbers on the scale under my feet, and several crushing rejections told me I had plenty of room for improvement to be considered enough.

I finally understood that line as the lies seeped into the depths of my psyche.

                I am too much to handle.

                I am not enough.

Somehow you can feel both of these lies at the same time even though they are opposite of each other, but that’s how the devil crafts his deceits – to defy logic and resonate in our hearts rather than our minds because the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

What’s the first thing we say when given encouragement or advice as we’re faced with trying times?

“I know, I know…” (eye roll included)

We know the truth.

I knew I was cherished by God. I knew my beauty was found in His Spirit rather than my outward appearance. I knew because of Him I had worth. I knew He understood the depths of my complexity and loved me all the same.

This was logic.

This was head knowledge.

We find these truths in the Bible and repeat them to ourselves over and over again hoping that they will eventually find their way to our hearts.

However, rather than embedding themselves deeper and deeper into our hearts and minds, the repetition serves as a numbing agent, causing us to lose touch of the freedom these truths offer.

The 12″ gap between the mind and heart is overwhelmingly immense, but we try nonetheless to bridge the gap and always end up with an abundance of knowledge and a waning spirit.

I wish I could say that there is a point where our hearts might fully believe the truths we pound into our minds, but unfortunately that won’t happen this side of heaven.

For now, we only know in part…(1 Corinthians 13:12).

We don’t know the fullness of these truths because we are still human beings; our hearts are still deceitful and will always lead us astray.

We only know the freedom these truths offer in a limited sense; restricted by our finite minds. There is a day though where we will be able to inhale the fullness of God in entirety and feel our hearts pulse with living, breathing truth.

One day.

Until then, rather than dwelling on all that we are not, we should focus in on all that God is and all that eternity has to offer us.

Our identity; our worth does not lie within our own ‘enough-ness.’

Our worth lies just beyond our reach.

Our worth lies at the edge of the parted waters (Exodus 14:21-22).

Under the looming walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:15-20).

In the shadow of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45-50).

At the doorsteps of Nineveh (Jonah 1-4).

At the foot of the bloodied cross.

Our worth lies where our own ability ends.

Our worth lies where Jesus Christ begins.

I can’t tell you anything more than you already know my friend.

You know the truth.

God’s love for you is more beautiful, more powerful, and more satisfying than anything this world has to offer.

So when you’re feeling as if you are too much and want to hold back, don’t.

When you are overwhelmed by your own failure and inability, look up.

Go ahead.

Allow the power of Jesus Christ to bridge the gap.

“Dare to be a little more of your honest to goodness, daring, real, raw, messy, imperfect, complete, and wholly loved by God self.” –Anonymous