Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sheep C: Faith Temper Tantrum

I’ve suffered more than a few “slings and arrows of outrageous misfortune” lately—again. (And thank you, Shakespeare, for such an apt turn of phrase). I know I’m whining, but life just does not seem to let up with the slams recently.

I try to console myself by comparing my lot in life with others who, admittedly, have it worse than me. I think the hardest thing may be that I am just not used to being trashed by life, having led a charmed one for decades until it all caved two years ago. (Whew! Even I recognize the heights of whining here). Really, all the comparison game has done for me recently is to cause me to actually look more closely at others’ pain, add it on to mine, and just wail to God, “Why, on earth, did you set things up this way?” I mean, honestly, would you allow all this meanness in the world if you were in charge? I'm just sayin'...
So, this causes a little crisis of faith with me. I start by thinking about how hard my little life seems to me (which is “very” right now) and then thinking about how hard someone in, oh, say, Rwanda, must think theirs is. It is enough to make me question everything. If God is love, then what is all this about, anyway?
I’m really honest with God, about this. I don’t even try to put these feelings in that room in my spirit where I don’t let Him see—He knows about this, so I’m not talking behind His back. I may as well tell you about it, too.

God actually appears to be quite fine with my stomping around, questioning Him and all. He just continues do his “higher ways” thing, just like He’s, well, GOD or something.
But I must admit that troubles cause me to ponder things I never allowed myself to ponder.

I move from just thinking God isn’t paying attention to thinking that He has made some mistake about all things turning to good for us. And then I move right along to the ultimate: Is there even really anyone “up there?” Are we just making all this up as we go along? It sure does not make sense that God would create something only to have it in such a fine mess—so, maybe “he” didn’t—maybe this whole universe is just creaking along on its own and we’re all duped into some cheery afterlife fantasy by our need to cope or, worse yet, by some conspiracy (who, though?) using religion as control of the masses—you know, Sheep Herding…keeping us acting better because of some carrot of heaven balanced by the stick of hell.
But, then, I snap back, really secure in my knowing God, so I don’t stay an atheist very long. And that leads me back full circle, pondering God but this time with a tinge of “uh-oh.” Is He upset at my faith wanderings/wonderings? Nope, I don’t think so, and I thank Him that he gave us some stories in His book just to allay these fears:

  • There's Elijah, who mightily out-maneuvered the priests of Baal and single-handedly burned up that soaking wet wood (well God actaully did) then slaying all the Baal priests as they stood in astonishment. He was so mighty in his faith in God. But what happened when Jezebel showed a little chagrin? Elijah, who had been so mighty in the Lord, ran and hid! From one woman! I love it that God not only did not smite him, He came and just said, “What are you doing here?!” and fed him and provided water. He knew how weak Elijah was. (Look at 1 Kings 18 and 19 for this story).

  • John the Baptist was such a strong figure: “Make way for the Lord!!” Standing up to everyone, including Herod (taking him on for shenanigans with his brother’s wife). But, then John went to jail. And what did he do? He sent one of his guys to Jesus to ask if he could have made a mistake (and I paraphrase rather loosely here): “I’m down here in jail because of you…please tell me I haven’t made the biggest mistake of my life, because this jail is not so good, and my future doesn’t look so good, and I need to really know…” Again, Jesus patiently instructed the runner to return and tell John, and, again I paraphrase loosely, “It’s okay, John, just think about all these miracles and calm down…” (To see the real words of Jesus, read Matthew 11).

  • And, then, there was that whole Peter fiasco in the 22nd chapter of Luke. You know, the Rock on which the church was to built? The one who denied even known the Lord at the first stumble?

So, I have good company in my wonderings, and I’m really not afraid of offending God, given the examples He chose to leave in His Word for me.

But it feels good to be open about it with you, and the writing about it causes me to analyze and examine. That little exercise of remembering how frail the mighty men of God in the Bible were has reminded me of His presence in my life and helped my attitude already.
Thanks! Sheep C