I have a way of categorizing data, that is unique. At times it makes things clearer for others. Hope this works, but here goes.
We have been talking about the attributes of God lately, in Sunday School, and this Sunday’s class was about Love.
I don’t know if you have ever studied God’s attributes, but it is an interesting study. For me, I am always caught between what the Bible says about God, and what we have concluded about God (but is not written in the Bible) and that we now hold as fact, just the same, as if He has said about himself.
Be that as it may, today’s lesson was on the attribute of God’s Love.
I have lots of questions here. There have been times in my life, where I have wondered if God truly loved me, or possibly, if he did, that Love from him was so foreign, and different a concept from my idea of Love, that I would never feel his Love.
Other times, I have been crushed by his love; crying and laughing at the same time, overwhelmed by what I now guess was his presence, reassuring me. These are experiences I have longed to have repeated, but have only happened a few times in my life.
As I sat in the Sunday School Class, I realized that there is a difference between the abstract idea of “God Loving”, and of “My Feeling Loved by God”. Additionally, I realized that the real issue for me, so many times, is, “Do I trust God to love me in a way I would want to be loved, knowing what he knows about the situation, and also, my need to be loved.”
This seems to be an issue of trust. Do I trust God to act on my behalf, in a way that will result in me actually being loved, or perhaps, feeling loved, in all cases, at all times.
Really, who does not have trust issues with God? According to the Bible, this is our basic issue with Him, all the way back to Adam and Eve. He states that he is very trustworthy, yet we (and me personally) do not trust him very much, at least according to his standards of trust.
I read a book a while back called, “The Speed of Trust”. It is a business book on building trust between you and your clients, vendors and partners. It’s core lesson is, “If you have built trust, business happens much faster.” The decision to do business requires much less due-diligence, and results in more “getting the deal done”. With high trust, comes much faster commerce.
The author of the book (Stephen Covey, Jr.) showed that there are 4 parts to developing Trust.
Character, Intent, Actions, and Result.
Any one of these which is compromised, causes trust to be destroyed.
Imagine you need surgery. You will want a Surgeon who has a heart for patients (character), who’s intent is to do what is right for the patient (intent), who’s training and skills are the best that you can find (actions), and who’s result is a very high success rate (result).
Lacking any one of these leaves you wondering about the person, and in need of much due-diligence, or mitigating factors before you will agree to work with them.
Lacking the character, you know they might take shortcuts.
Lacking the intent, you know that what they do is motivated by their issues, and not ours.
Lacking the Actions, well, who wants an electrician doing major surgery. We want a doctor.
Lacking good results, well, no matter how good they are, if the patient always dies, you want a different surgeon.
Does this model work with God? I think so. With it, I may be able to discover where my “lack of trust” in him comes from. You as well. The questions that follow are only examples, and not worries of my heart, but they might strike a chord in your own heart.
Character? God’s character is unimpeachable. Kind of by definition. Still, “What do I believe about his Character?
Why make a world where people are fallen and must be saved? Is there something which can only be made through such a crucible?
Intent? Do I wonder sometimes if God is really interested in me, or mankind in general? Do I wonder if he would hurt me to save many others? Is he following his agenda for his purposes, or is his agenda aligned with the best for my life? What do I believe about his intent?
More martyrs have died in the past 100 years than all the years before this, around the world. What does this accomplish? Will I be required to die like that?
Actions? Does he only intervene at big moments in history, or does he intervene constantly on my behalf? “Do my prayers actually change anything?
We all know that the evil sometime succeed, and the good, sometimes get crushed. What is accomplished by this? A truly free world, where those who choose him can know it was choice and not some automatic, God designed system which caused them to seek him?
Results? Have the results for me (and others) shown me he loves me?
We have all, at times, wished our prayers were answered differently.
With this structure, I now have a matrix to begin looking at why so often, I do not trust God.
Is it His Character? (This is my issue. I trust his character. Do you?)
Is it his Intent? (Yes, I have questions here, not that He wants my best, but whether he is willing to sacrifice his goals for my well being. When I say that out loud like this, it sounds pretty foolish, but I have to face my own issues, right?)
Is it his Actions? (very hidden from me. I just assume much comes from Him, that could be explained by randomness or other things. This one is a real area of trust.)
Is it the Outcome? (Seems very easy to see God’s hand here now, but at times in the past, in the moment, it was very hard. )
And the result begins to show why trust is such a challenge. Much of what I know of him must be taken through trusting the of people that have reported to me his actions in the Bible. Much of my experience of him is seen in the rear view mirror of results, both there, and in my own, very blessed life.
I guess the real question for each of us is, “Am I willing to daily challenge my own trust issues, and trust what Jesus said?” , that, “When a sparrow falls, he knows. How much more does he know and care for you individually?”
This is the conundrum of God’s love.
When I trust what he says about loving me, I feel his love all the time.
When I do not trust his actions in my life, I do not feel his Love.
I need to feel his love, and to do that, I must trust that “he is good, and does good for those who love him”.
It turns out, I am my own enemy of my own happiness.
In Business, this is also true for my relationships with the people around me. When I trust them, I their actions. The odd phonecall an employee takes is nothing.
When I do not trust them, the same call has sinister overtones, and their actions raise questions in me. “Are they leaving? Is he working hard enough? What is going on?”
When these things happen, only forgiveness can restore the relationship between me and the person, and allow me to start trusting them again. To be clear, My forgiveness of them. Not the other way around.
Perhaps, then, what I / we need to do, is to forgive God? Is that all that is holding me / us back from trusting Him, and as a result, my / our own happiness?