April 17, 2013

Trusting God in the dark…

In the study of theology, one soon finds a history of disagreement about the very basics of God. Who is He? What is His purpose? How does He interact with man? Or does He? More pointed are the discussions about Jesus Christ, His person, nature and work. Some declare He is fully God and fully man in one person with two natures. While this is the only description that fits with all that Scripture reveals about Him, disagreement is sharp. It swings from one extreme to another, even to say Jesus did not exist, only the idea of Jesus, and we are saved by the idea of Him and not by any actual, historical person or event.

The seminary courses I am taking inform me of these views, but indirectly through the writings of those who discuss them and point out how they do not fit with the revelation recorded in the Bible, or the historical and archeological records. These written accounts are gracious and extremely illuminating, yet it is easy to see the battles that prompted them have been fierce.

Obviously, such struggles are important. What we believe has eternal consequences. Certainly how we understand God also affects the way we live now. The Christian church needs to identify and reject false teaching. We need to answer questions for ourselves as well as for others who are seeking God. What frustrates me are those battles over that which cannot be proved, discovered or verified. Instead, some theologians speculate with personal opinion or flawed reasoning, leading to silly spats that dishonor God and turn the study of theology into a gray area spattered with ego.

Without being too harsh on those who fall into this, I must say that trusting God without a full revelation of what He is doing is a difficult challenge. For instance, He is all-powerful so why does He allow senseless human actions? Case in point: the recent bombings in Boston. Why are children maimed and killed? We can ask the questions, but heaven in silent and many wonder how God can be trusted in the face of this event or others like it.

Today’s devotional verse is in the middle of a chapter that rebukes Israel for disobedience, then compares them to God’s servant who does obey, pointing to Jesus Christ, the only One who fully obeyed God. It says…
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God. (Isaiah 50:10)
I am reminded of my dear mother. When anything happened that she could not understand, she would speculated different scenarios until she found something, anything, that made sense to her and that became the “reason” for the event. This verse does not suggest that. Instead, it says when we are in the dark without anything to help us understand, we are to trust God and rely on Him. This means relying on Him, not for answers, but trusting Him even if He never tells us anything. Faith is knowing what we cannot see, but knowing what? Hebrews offers two verses to explain.
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…. And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. (Hebrews 11:1, 6)
What can I trust that I cannot see but that God exists and that He rewards those who seek Him? This is not seeking answers, but seeking Him. He may never make sense of the darkness, but when I draw near to Him, the answers are not nearly as important as being close to Him. Intimacy is a child cuddled on his father’s lap, not a child hearing the reasons why everything happens.

This is what is missing in the ‘theologians’ who must have answers and, if they cannot find them, speculate and rely on human reasoning (which has been flawed by sin also). Instead of simply trusting God in the dark, they do what the very next verse in Isaiah says…
Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches that you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment. (Isaiah 50:11)
Faith is trusting in God, not because I know everything about what He is doing, but because He has revealed enough about Himself to me that I can trust Him in the dark or in the light. This revelation comes through the Word of God and through the person of Jesus Christ.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. (Hebrews 1:1–2)
Faith is not about knowing everything there is to know, a desire that involves my ego, but faith is knowing and trusting the One who knows everything, and letting Him decide what needs to be revealed. I can curl up close to Him and honor Him even in the mysterious — rather than speculate in an attempt to satisfy any insistence on answers from my sinful nature that refuses to trust Him unless I have them.

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