”It wasn’t so long ago that you were mired in that old stagnant life of sin. You let the world, which doesn’t know the first thing about living, tell you how to live. You filled your lungs with polluted unbelief, and then exhaled disobedience. We all did it, all of us doing what we felt like doing, when we felt like doing it, all of us in the same boat. It’s a wonder God didn’t lose his temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, he embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on his own, with no help from us! Then he picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah.” (Eph 2:1-6, The Message, emphasis added)
In 1996, Charles Templeton wrote Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith. For over twenty years, Charles Templeton was a leader in the evangelical Christianity in the US and Canada. In the 1950s, together with Billy Graham, Templeton led crusades that called tens of thousands of non-believers to faith. In 1957, he resigned from the Billy Graham ministry and abandoned his faith.
As background research for his book, The Case for Faith (Zondervan, 2000), Lee Strobel asked Templeton, “Was there one thing in particular that caused you to lose your faith in God?” Templeton responded, “It was photograph in Life Magazine… It was a picture of a black woman in North Africa. They were experiencing a devastating drought. And she was holding her dead baby in her arms and looking up to heaven with the most forlorn expression.” Templeton confronted Strobel, “Is it possible to believe that there is a loving or caring Creator when all this woman needed was rain?”
I get Templeton’s point. In addition to the cruelty and abuses that make-up news stories every evening, incidents throughout the Bible prompt me to scratch my head also. In Genesis, Abram and Lot enter the Canaan Valley, together. Lot chooses the richest lands for himself disrespecting Abram (i.e., God’s chosen one) and leaving him the poorest lands to farm. In Job, God permits Satan to afflict Job with painful boils from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head. Taking broken pottery to scrape puss from his open sores, Job’s rebukes his wife saying, “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:7-10) Habakkuk questions God’s fairness using the “more wicked” Chaldeans to punish sinful Israel. (Hab 1:12-13) For 20+ years after being “anointed king”, David had to dodge Saul’s spears and outrun Saul’s army before he became “ruling king”. (2 Sam 2-5) In his New Testament biography of Jesus, Matthew recaps the lesson the Vineyard Laborers saying, “So the last will be first and the first will be last.” (Mt 20:1-16) None of this seems fair to me!
God is God. “Trust starts out as a choice to lean into God instead of ourselves, and it continues as we remind ourselves of WHAT is true, and that HE is true.” Source unknown. God’s actions belie purpose.
“For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.” (Col 3:25)
“Trust in the Lord with your whole heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and he will direct your paths. (Prov 3:5-6)
Dance Blindfolded — “I learned to swing dance about a year before becoming a believer and one of the ways my partner and I would practice was for me to be blindfolded. I had a tendency to anticipate the moves that he would lead as opposed to letting him lead me and I was unintentionally hijacking his lead–very often. The blindfold made me wait, listen, and not anticipate. He was able to lead me through combinations I would have never been able to imagine (he was a much more experienced dancer than me). …As I disciplined myself to walk with the Lord, I would reflect on my experience with dancing blindfolded and it gave me great courage to trust Him through things unseen.” –Source Unknown
Holy Stubbornness — Maybe nobody understands the concept of “clinging” like the tourist who discovered his harness wasn’t attached to the frame of his hang glider. He, literally, had to hang-on to the glider frame for dear life for his harrowing two-minute flight. Trusting is clinging! It is “holy stubbornness” that clings to God’s fairness, goodness and sovereignty no matter how we feel, just as the hang glider stubbornly clung to the frame of his glider. –Source Unknown
Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him [with blindfolded, holy stubbornness],
and he will make your paths straight. (Prov 3:5-6, emphasis added)