I didn't always doubt love.
Once, I trusted easily. Too easily, it seemed.
That was before God let my heart break, before I knew the reality of loss, that choking, heart-wrenching physical pain of chosen vulnerability shattered, crushed, left for dead.
That was before I learned about God's sovereignty, His uncompromising, inevitable comforting ways that are higher than mine.
The story is not an easy one to tell. I was younger then, not so cynical as I am now. I don't want to think of myself as cynical, but I know that I am. Back then, it was a chosen cynicism, confirmed through minor experience that turned out to be my own misunderstanding of the situation. Now, praying for exceptions to what has become the rule of my experience yields little but disappointment.
Tuesday's post surprised me as I was writing it. When I began writing, I thought I was just frustrated with God for being God again. By the time I finished, the realization that I'm still aching for His love - in spite of everything I've been through with Him! - left me bemused, disillusioned.
I'm embarrassed to admit it. Embarrassed that He still looks like you-didn't-bring-K-back to me, embarrassed that He still seems only like God-who-takes-away to me, embarrassed to admit my non-thankfulness because I don't trust His giving. I half-laugh at my concept of Him - "God, the Indian Giver."
Pain changes things. Not always for the better; not always for the worse. My initial suffering (my health problems, work issues, dropping out of school) was minor compared to the soul-questions I have asked - no, screamed at - the God of the universe. See, I get that He is that. The God of the universe. That He is I Am. That He is higher than I.
What I don't understand in the deep of me is His care for me. I don't understand that from anyone. Not after once accepting, believing, trusting it, and having it crushed by the very person who once offered it.
I know God is not a man. I know God is Love itself - Himself.
I was good at Geometry. I loved having the solutions to my problems pre-defined. Just plug in the right postulate (this is this, then this must be that, now that must be this) and you can understand the problem. Similarly, there is much about God I can accept as fact, build a doctrine, craft my system of belief.
But in relationship with Him, the postulates only go so far. Because relationships are not pre-defined. They are not solution-driven. They are often a morass of miscommunications, misunderstandings, misconceptions - and emotions gone haywire over much of the above. Since my heart broke, simply "doing the right thing" when it comes to God has become nearly impossible.
I wonder if I have enough faith; then I wonder if the faith I have is misplaced. Is faith for something like moving mountains, or in Someone, the Person of Jesus Christ? And what does having faith in Him mean for accepting love in relationship with God?
Sometimes, I think if I just made up my mind to believe it, it would become real to me. But I know from long experience - that's not the way it works for me. I'm not really sure it's the way it works for God:
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. (Jn. 1:12-13)
You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. (Jn. 15:16)
The Psalmist speaks often of waiting on the Lord. I can make up my mind about what I'm going to do in regard to Him, ask Him for help, and wait for His response - if it doesn't come in my time, does that mean He has abandoned me, does it mean He doesn't love me or care about me? I don't believe it does - I clutch at His faithful, knowing He is stronger than I, that for all my struggle to comprehend faith that is solid evidence of the unseen, He yet holds my heart in His hand.
I am so afraid He will allow it to be broken again, and I know I do not yet comprehend His perfect love that casts out fear.
I fear God. I reverence and often rejoice in His higher ways, His immutability, His God-prerogative. Yet, this holy fear often caves to very human fear, the kind that has me hunkered into my corner trying to protect myself from being hurt again by Him, by others.
I am so out of control. I have often heard that trust is a command, but I wonder perhaps if it isn't more of a plea: "Trust Me. I am so good, if you will just believe Me..." He is not so helpless - He could force His hand, MAKE me trust Him. Just like He could MAKE my life go perfectly as I wish.
In both cases, though, relationship would be broken. In the first, His will would dominate and destroy - where my transformation through deeper knowledge of Him would serve better to strengthen mutual love. In the latter, my wishes would control, and God who is I Am would be subject to the whims of someone who doesn't see what He sees, no matter how much foresight the fruit from that tree gave to me. There would be no unity of thought, no oneness, no submission that fosters trust.
The strongest faith, I believe, is faith that does stand in the face of my why, that is solid in spite of my fears, faith that carries my heart beyond my shattered conception of God into the reality of Him and His real love. Twila Paris sings, "This is the faith, patience to wait when there is nothing clear..."
Wait when I decide to listen and He doesn't say anything. Wait when I ask Him for help and make up my mind to do better and fail miserably. Wait when His love for me doesn't appear to be the love I want.
Piper doesn't trust us for the "no" yet. Oh, when she's scared and wants to cuddle, she's all over us. But when we tell her "no" she doesn't yet understand that we have reasons we can't explain for our "no." She can't see what we see, hasn't seen what we've seen. She breaks relationship with her "stop eet, stop eet, stoppp eet!!!" and runs to hide from us.
She looks a lot like me relating to God sometimes.
Only I assume that even His "yes" will eventually become "no," so even the good gets rejected, and I am afraid to accept what He gives. The bad lesson pain too often teaches.
Years ago, when I chose to love at God's request and direction, I stepped out believing that God was capable of completely healing my heart, even if He never fulfilled all my wishes.
I would ask why the healing takes so long. I know the answer lies in His care for me.
He is incredibly patient, isn't He?
I learned this week that autumn leaves don't simply fall off trees. The trees must actually throw the leaves off, for the risk of blooming too soon and being killed during a warm winter spell would be too great if they remained.
He knows when my time to bloom will be. He knows how much of Him I can handle now, what must be shed from my soul for me to rest in His love.
This is what trust is about, I think; living as He created me to live, believing He will do what is best to sustain the life I now live in the flesh by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
*This photo of mine got featured over at High Calling Blogs today! So exciting!
*Need an earlyish Christmas idea? Check out these images for prints - available for a limited time only!
(Image © SXC)