Playing God

I have been praying for a while to get past a challenge in my life.  Things are hard right now.  And I think I’ve been doing everything right.  But they aren’t getting any easier.

It’s created this wall between me and God, a little bit.  Now, not it.  I have created this wall between God and me.  I’ve been going through the motions: praying, reading scripture, worshipping.  But this wall makes it all less fruitful.   Not very rewarding.  It’s easy to see how people would just stop doing them when they get nothing out of them.  It’s easy to see how I could stop doing them if I continued to not get much out of them.

God helped me realize something, yesterday.

This wall is really about idolatry.  It’s about a lack of faith in what God really is.

Resenting God for not removing this thorn from my side is really doubting his loving nature.  It’s really saying “God, I don’t trust you that you’ll do what is best for me.”

Feeling that God can’t use all circumstances for His glory, that God is somehow incapeable of changing this situation even though he wants to is doubting his incredible power. 

Believing that I know better than God, that he just really doesn’t understand what He’s doing to me, this is doubting his endless wisdom.

I think one of the dilemnas for some of the amazing people in my life is that they are wise enough to know that I am not mature enough to hear any of these things from them.  It’s hard, when somebody is hurting to say “Have more faith.”

Many times that would be cruel and innapropriate.

But it’s not in my case.  I’m not exactly sure about all the details of just how to do it, but I do know that this is what I need to do.

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jeffsdeepthoughts

The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

5 thoughts on “Playing God”

  1. Augh! Yes. I know exactly what you mean. But also, I’ve recently been struggling with when to throw in the towel and say, Okay, God. Clearly you’re done using me in this situation, and you’re not going to answer this prayer the way I had hoped or maybe anticipated. Your will be done. I’m out.

    (Prepare for an email on this, I think . . . )

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  2. Hi Jeff,
    Thanks for your post–it’s hard to admit when we are in the dry times. You mentioned idolatry, but I couldn’t figure out what you felt you were worshiping instead of God–could you elaborate a little?

    I think the various flavors of prosperity gospel have made it hard for us to remember what God really has promised. Instead of “God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life” we actually find “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Jesus did promise an abundant life to those that follow him, but abundant is a interesting word–it’s not necessarily positive stuff.

    — Vance

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  3. I came across this post while looking for another one that I remember leaving a comment on. I still haven’t found that one, but I read this one, and… well, I just have too much to say to even attempt leaving a comment. (I will anyway.) Or maybe it’s just one of those weird illlusions we fall under sometimes that makes us think we are very much more like a person than we really are. It’s at times like this I both bless and curse the internet for showing me people with whom I think I could have a meaningful and close friendship, and yet cannot in reality for a variety of reasons.

    Mother Gavrilia Papayanni, this old Greek woman (no longer with us, she died in 1992) who is one of my mentors (thru a biography about her) addresses the issue you’re expressing in this post from a number of angles, and what I would have to say are the sorts of things her life said to me and which I’ve accepted into my situation. These are many, but only one concept, a brief one, is what I can share in response to these paragraphs of yours…

    Resenting God for not removing this thorn from my side is really doubting his loving nature. It’s really saying “God, I don’t trust you that you’ll do what is best for me.”

    Feeling that God can’t use all circumstances for His glory, that God is somehow incapeable of changing this situation even though he wants to is doubting his incredible power.

    Believing that I know better than God, that he just really doesn’t understand what He’s doing to me, this is doubting his endless wisdom.

    HERE is my “brief comment” to the above.

    Just say YES to whatever God is placing in your path (in your life, your family relationships, your friendships, your church life, your job, your inspirations, sometimes even your shortcomings and doubts) and let Him reveal His will to you in what happens. This can be very daring, incredibly risky. It can even seem to cause loss. It certainly will involve a lot of personal inconvenience, even pain, and sometimes even death (even physical death, but often just the death of another one of our illusions). On the other hand, it will often place us in the exact spot where opportunity appears, where doors open that we never suspected were there. All this constitutes the mental and volitional discipline of saying daily to God, “Yes, Lord, I trust You completely not to drop me, as slippery as I can be sometimes. Yes, Lord, I am Yours, and I trust you to save me.”

    That being said, it’s time to have a late, very late breakfast. Hope you find this comment, and hope it may touch you somehow, as I wish I were there next to you, to touch you wordlessly with a firm hand on your shoulder. Whatever caused you to write this post back in November may have passed into history, or it may still be a thorn in your flesh pricking you daily. But if its anything at all like mine, it makes me feel sometimes that it is I myself who am the thorn in my own flesh, and that only by ceasing to exist (not committing suicide, but just ceasing to exist, there’s a difference) will the thorn be out, once and for all.

    Go with God, Jeff, and remember me, Romanós the sinner, to the Father.

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  4. Thank you, so much for your kindness and counsel. Your insight came it a really valuable time. I continue to have some struggles with this stuff. And in fact, your comment came at a much-needed time.
    It caused me to re-read the post where I begin to wrestle with what I should be doing; the comments prior to yours which contained some helpful insights; and of course your own additions to this topic.
    In addition to the overwheliming kindness and gentleness of your response, your thoughts really helped me to high light the idea that there is a difference between saying “No” to God and enthusastically saying “Yes” to God.
    I have been refraining from saying “No” to God. And that’s a step in the right direction, I suppose.
    But what I should be saying is “Yes!” enthusastically even when I don’t see where it’s going.
    So, again, thank you.

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