Trying To See God Eye to Eye

Recently, I heard a line in a song that gave me pause.  In fact, I chose that song for today's Song of the Day.  The entire thing is excellent, and boy, can I relate to the message.  And while I'd love to go line by line and give you my thoughts, I'd rather focus on this one phrase:  "I pull you down, so we are eye to eye."  Even after hearing it several times, that phrase still creates an uneasiness within me.  Something deep inside of me cringes, and I'll explain why.

Have you ever tried to understand what God was doing in your life?  Have you ever tried to make sense of His work, timing or plans?  I'm afraid I make a habit of doing this.  It's my nature.  I like to be in the know.  I feel I need to know what's going on.  I want to be prepared.  I need to make plans.  So, I try to make sense of what God is doing (or not doing), and in the end, I find myself discouraged, frustrated and confused.  Why?  Because God's ways don't make sense.  I'll give you an example.

Despite the limited funds and extra expenses at Christmas, there were a couple of people who were desperately in need, and I felt led to help them.  With peace in my mind and joy in my heart, I made a financial contribution to each of these people, confident that God would take care of me and bless me for my generosity.  I wasn't giving to get something in return.  I was honestly giving from a loving and compassionate heart, but I had faith that God would take care of the rest.  He didn't. . .well, at least not in the way I had anticipated.  Before I realized what was happening, the bank account overdrafted.  With two more days until payday, I honestly didn't know what to think, and unfortunately, my first response was anger.

"Seriously, Lord?  This is how you treat your children?  I gave out of the goodness of my heart.  I was trying to help others.  I was hoping to spread cheer and encouragement to those who were about to give up on you for good.  And how do you repay me?  You allow my account to overdraft, which means now I have all these extra fees to contend with."

The tantrum didn't last long though that's not to say that it didn't last longer than it should have.  But I was honest.  I didn't understand how the Lord could allow that to happen, and even now, I don't have an answer.  It seems cruel.  It feels like I was being punished for doing good.  For the moment, I was convinced that the whole "cast your bread upon the water" proverb was nothing but a fairy tale.

The problem, however, isn't what God did or didn't do.  It's what I did.  I tried to make sense of His ways.  I tried to bring Him down to my level so that we could see eye to eye, but the fact of the matter is that He is not on my level.  He is the Most High.  His ways are so far above my ways that I can't understand them no matter how hard I try.  His thoughts are above my thoughts, and even though I long to comprehend what He's doing, I can't.  And as much as I'd like to know why God works things out the way He does, the King of the World doesn't owe me an explanation.

For some reason, the line in that song gave me a clear picture of what I was doing when I tried to put God in a box and expected Him to work the way I see fit.  If I'm bringing Him down to my level and putting Him in my charge, then He's not a God who can really do anything for me.  I need someone who is above all the chaos and noise.  I need someone who has the vantage point to see things clearly when I cannot.  I need someone who knows all, sees all and understands all.  I need God to be the Most High, even if that means I don't know what He's doing.

So often, we think we want to see eye to eye with God, but if we think about it long enough, we'll realize that that's not what we want at all because doing so will only bring Him down to our level.  If we feel like we're stuck in the mud of life, what good would it do to bring Him down to get stuck in it with us?  I know it's frustrating to see God working in ways opposite of what we're expecting, and it can be challenging to remember that He is working all things for our good, but we must trust that He sees what we can't see and understands what we can't possibly understand.  He is the Most High, and from that vantage point, He alone knows what's best for us.

Will you trust Him today, or will you insist on trying to see eye to eye?

O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen. - Romans 11:33-36

When the Clock Strikes Midnight

Some days I feel like Cinderella.  No, I'm not dressed in rags, slaving away in the home of my wicked stepmother. And neither am I looking for a handsome prince (I've already found him).  No, it's something else, but to explain it, allow me to refresh your memory of the fairy tale.

Cinderella desperately wanted to go to the ball, but she had nothing to wear and no way to reach the castle.  In her darkest hour, her fairy godmother appeared and made her wishes come true.  With a flick of the wand, Cinderella's rags became a gorgeous ballgown, complete with glass slippers.  A nearby pumpkin became her coach, and a variety of animals served as her footmen and driver.  It seemed impossible yet magnificent; however, there was a catch--the fairy's spell would only last until midnight.

So, Cinderella goes to the ball and meets the prince.  They fall in love at once, and for a little while, Cinderella forgets her past.  As far as she's concerned, things have changed, and they'll never be the same again.  Everything was perfect, and her dreams had finally come true.  But, at the stroke of midnight, just as the godmother had warned, everything fell apart.  The gown was reduced to rags.  The coach broke down into a rotting pumpkin.  The footmen and driver regained their animal forms.  And Cinderella was left standing in the dust of shattered hopes and dreams.

This story resonates with me in that sometimes I feel like a significant transformation has taken place in me.  The timid, anxious, doubting girl is gone, and in her place stands a beautiful princess, complete with grace, poise and faith.  For a little while, it looks like my spiritual dreams have come true--not that I've arrived, mind you, but for once, I feel like I'm making progress.  For a while, it seems like my faith has finally taken root and begun to grow.  All those hours spent in prayer and Bible study are finally paying off.  The transformation is magnificent, and the changes seem so permanent that I fool myself into thinking that things will never be the same as they were.  The poor Cinderella is gone!

Ah, but then the clock strikes midnight.  Crisis comes.  Trials arrive.  And suddenly, everything around me crumbles.  My beautiful gown of faith is reduced to rags of worry and fear.  In an instant, it's as if nothing had ever changed at all, and I feel like I'm back where I started.  Never making progress.  Never moving forward.  Always stuck in one spiritual existence while longing for another.

Do you ever feel that way?  Do you find yourself doing all the right things for spiritual growth yet seeming to be stuck in your childish ways?  It's discouraging, isn't it?  The truth is, it's downright disheartening!  I find myself thinking, What's the point?  Why bother?  But, praise the Lord, God recently opened my eyes to a beautiful truth.

You see, I've had it in my mind that I've been failing the same test over and over and over again, which indicates a lack of spiritual growth.  But I don't think that's the case at all.  It's not that I'm not learning; it's that the tests are becoming more challenging.  When I started out, my faith tests were on the level of 2+2, but now, after some growth, the Lord feels I'm ready for something more challenging, like long division (yikes!).  It's a bit like playing a video game.  For the most part, games have levels. As you progress in the game, the levels get more and more difficult.  It doesn't mean you haven't learned anything or acquired skill at the game, it only means that you're facing more challenging obstacles.  Does that make sense?

For me, it's such a relief because it gives me hope that I'm not stuck in a spiritual rut.  I'm not a lost cause!  No, I haven't arrived, and I have MANY lessons left to learn, but fortunately, I have a very wise and patient Teacher.  He knows what I need and what lessons I need to learn, and He will give me the strength to master them in time.  And rest assured He will do the same for you.  We are making progress, imperfect though it may be.  But progress is progress.  Just ask Cinderella.  Though everything else in her fairy tale existence disappeared, her glass slippers remained, and it was through one of those slippers that her dreams became a reality.

Hold onto that glass slipper of imperfect progress and cling to it as your hope and promise that God is not through with you yet.

My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. - James 1:2-4

In His Likeness

On Christmas Eve, Jason and I went with his family to see the new Star Wars movie, Rogue One.  It was a superb film, but I will warn you, don't get attached to anyone.  Anyway, the movie is set during the time between Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith and Episode 4: A New Hope.  In the last few moments of the movie, there is a clip of Princess Leia receiving the top secret information about the Death Star.  At first, you only see her from behind, which is understandable because the actress who played that part forty years ago is. . .well. . .forty years older.  Surprisingly, though, at the last second, she turns around and says a few words.  The camera focuses on her face, and my first question was, "How did they do that?"  It was the same actress, or was it?

We had a lively discussion about this at lunch after the movie.  Some were of the opinion that CGI was used to make the actress look like the original Princess Leia.  Others felt that perhaps the clip was one that had been filmed all those years ago and not used in the initial film in 1977.  Some quick online research informed us that it was neither.  The part was played by another actress, and when looking at her profile picture, the girl looks nothing like the original actress.  But I promise you, she looked like a twin in the movie.  It was crazy!

In my devotions this morning, I was reading about how much Christ longs to form us into His image, how He works on us relentlessly to make us more like Him.  Immediately, the Leia confusion came to my mind.  Somehow, the film studio took a girl who doesn't look much at all like the original actress and made everyone think it was Princess Leia.  I'm sure they spent many hours making her look the part.  Jesus does the same with us, and He won't be satisfied until His work is complete.  He longs for others to look at us and say, "Wait a minute!  Is that Jesus?"

As we close out this year and embark on another, keep in mind that God is doing a work in us, and only He knows what will be required to make us more like Him.  It may mean some time in the fire.  It may involve some long, dark valleys.  It may even include lots of joys and victories.  I don't know, but I urge you to keep this in mind as you face the new year.  Whatever God allows to come into your life has a purpose.  Everything He does is part of His plan to make us more like Him.  So while the journey may be difficult, the destination is definitely worth it.

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: - Philippians 1:6