Why I don't trust God, part 3: I have failed so many times.
I am sure I am not alone in this, but sometimes I think because I have failed so many times in the past that God won’t give me any more chances and there is little reason to even ask for help. At a job you can only fail at so many projects before you have effectively killed your chances of ever getting that promotion, and likely even jeopardized your chances of retaining your current position. Even the most patient people will give up on you eventually if you keep messing up every time they give you another chance.
When we give God human attributes and emotions we assume that He will look at our failures the same way other people look at them, and the way we look at other people's failures. Let's face it and be honest; we don't look kindly on failure, especially when someone fails us personally.
Sometimes we feel that even though God has forgiven us of our sins that He won't give us any more opportunities for blessings because we have shown ourselves to be unworthy of such trust. I have family members that I love dearly and have forgiven for their offenses, but I will likely never trust them with my money or car. Basically, when we don't trust God because of our failures we are saying that we don't trust ourselves and are basically counting ourselves out and not looking at ourselves the way our father in heaven looks at us. God had to work on me a lot before I started to see myself through his eyes instead of through the paradigm of my failures. While God wants us to succeed, when He looks at us, if we know Christ, He sees us through the atoning blood of Christ and we are clean.
1 John 3:1 “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!”
Lamentations 3:22 Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
Notice it doesn't say His compassion will fail when we fail, it says His compassion will never fail.
1 Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
I have always been the type of person who puts my all into everything I do, but that does not mean that I have not failed, and in fact, I fail quite often. In this world we are not judged by our effort but by successes and failures and it is difficult to not see myself as a failure because I have failed and failed so often, at so many things. I have failed so many times at so many times, so spectacularly that I am afraid sometimes afraid to try again. We are not truly a failure unless we stop trying.
Other than loosing my faith and running from and ridiculing God, the other failure that bothers me more than most is my failings in my marriage. There were a lot of problems in our marriage and I was no small part of it. Our first year was terrific and I thought Tanya and I would be together the rest of our lives, but that all changed shortly after our one year anniversary. We had been trying to have a child, without success, since we got married, and since she had a child before we met, we both knew the problem was mine. Wanting to figure out what the problem was and whether or not there was a solution that would fix it, I went to a urologist to do some tests.
The doctor called me on Tanya and my one year anniversary to give me the bad news: I would not be having a child, now or ever. I recall the doctor saying that while it wasn't "technically impossible", I would have better odds of getting hit by lightning and winning the lottery on the same day, and even then, it would only be with divine intervention on the Biblical scale.
I knew I would have to tell Tanya sooner or later, but the thought of telling her we would never have children filled me with fear and trepidation. I wrestled with it for a while and decided to wait until after our anniversary getaway that weekend to tell her, at least that way we would have a good time instead of having that bad news hanging over us. Though Tanya had told me numerous times that she would not love me any less if I could not have children, I was terrified that it wasn't true.
We spent the weekend at a theme suite bed and breakfast and it was one of the best weekends of my life. Just before we cleaned out our room to head home, I confessed the bad news to her and we sat there and cried together, holding each other tighter than we ever had. Over and over, Tanya kept telling me that she would always love me, whether or not I could give her children. I choose to believe that she truthfully meant it when she said it.
I tried to ignore it and pretend it wasn't happening, but the change in our relationship was almost instantaneous and was undeniable. Where Tanya once wanted to spend as much time with me as possible she now spent a lot of time with her sister and when we were together she didn't want to spend any time with me and was annoyed if I even tried to kiss her. It eventually got to the point where she didn't even want to hold my hand, unless we were in public or around one of our families.
I tried as hard as I could and did everything I could to make Tanya love me again, but I just couldn't bring it back and I could not get her to treat me as she once did. I still haven't stopped loving her, but I knew her love for me was decreasing daily. After a while I just gave up. I decided the love had gone out of our marriage and I was powerless to bring it back so there was no reason to continue deluding myself and there was no reason to continue trying. I gave up on Tanya the way I sometimes fear God will give up on me, despite how much I still loved her.
Around our first anniversary is also when I started to openly question the LDS Church, though I had my doubts years before we ever met, this is when I started being honest about it. When I finally completely lost my faith, Tanya did everything she could to bring me back to the LDS Church but just drove me farther away.
It got to the point where Tanya I would go through my phone, email, wallet, car and even follow me to be sure that I wasn't drinking coffee, which is something Mormons are dead set against, and she also wanted to make sure I was not speaking against the church. I have always loved coffee but somehow managed to give it up when I joined the church, but now that I no longer believed in it I had no reason to follow their rules.
I am ashamed to admit this, but I lied to Tanya about whether or not I drank coffee, and I lied a lot. Oddly enough, in the five years we were married, that is the only thing I ever lied to her about. Still, I hid other aspects of my life from her, such as who I spent time with and what I looked at online, what I read, etc. Clearing my browser would make her think I had been looking at porn sites, so instead of clearing my browser I would watch youtube videos on religion, atheism and anti-Mormon videos an one one of the university libraries where I went to school.
I hated that I felt like I had to hide things from her, but I was tired of arguing and I was tired of trying, I was tired of caring, and sometimes I was even tired of living. At the end I was hoping she would just hurry up and leave already, and when she did it about killed me, both because I still loved her as much as I did the day we wed, and because I felt like a failure in life.
It pains me to have to admit that I gave up and quit trying instead of sticking with it to the end, and I guess part of my excuse is that Tanya checked out four years before I did, but it is still an excuse, I know it and God knows it. I am also ashamed to admit that I often was not as kind and caring to Tanya as I should have been, especially in the last few months we were together. I am often afraid that God looks at me the way I look at myself, like a failure. Even worse, I sometimes fear that God looks at me the way my ex-wife looks at me, which is a terrifying thought.
Sometimes when I think about the blessings of God I feel that I have to live up to a specific set of expectations before I will be loved, before I will be saved and before I will be blessed, but that is just not the case. Pastor John Piper said, "If any part of your right standing with God is law-keeping than Christ died in vain." That is a strong statement, and one that Paul the Apostle would completely agree with. If we have to save ourselves than there was no need for Jesus to die on the cross.
Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Possibly more than any verse in the Bible, Romans 5:8 shows that we are not saved or forgiven by anything we have done as Christ died for us and forgave us while we were still sinners, not after we changed and followed all the rules.
Revelation 3:8 I know your works. Because you have limited strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name, look, I have placed before you an open door that no one is able to close.
I am not sure why I often feel like I need to earn grace, other than how low I sometimes view my self-worth, but I know I can't earn it and it is given as an unmerited free gift, and indeed, grace that is not free isn't grace at all but a deserved reward.
Have you ever heard one of those commercials offering a “free gift” with your purchase or contribution of only $29.99? Well, that is not a free gift but rather a reward. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines free as, “not costing or charging anything” and it defines gift as, “something voluntarily transferred by one person to another without compensation.” It also defines grace as the, “unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.” There is no logical way that what the Bible says about grace can be construed as something you have to earn. It is not by grace that your boss gives you a paycheck every week, it is because you are being compensated for your time and effort on their behalf. Grace is when you get something you don't deserve, can't afford and could never hope to repay. It is by grace we are forgiven of our sin debt because it was paid by Jesus on the Cross.
Isaiah 64:6 All of us have become like one who is unclean. All our right and good works are like dirty pieces of cloth. And all of us dry up like a leaf. Our sins take us away like the wind.
If we were to earn our own salvation by our works than we might as well give up and resign ourselves to hell, but we are once we know Christ we are judged by His merits instead of ours, and our sins, failures and shortcomings are forgiven.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
Some people mistakenly think that if we are save by grace that we can continue on as we were, but as a natural result of being saved by grace, grace transforms us and we become a new person. If I continue to do the old things that I did before than I am not a new man at all, just a hypocrite.
1 Corinthians15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.
As I mentioned in past episodes, I often fall into the error of thinking of God as a man, and when I do, I expect human actions and reactions. When you fail a person you typically can't expect them to keep giving you opportunities and you could say that if you are not living up to their expectations than you can't trust them to always have your best interests in mind. Typically, people look out for themselves first and give others opportunities only if it also benefits them, with a few altruistic exceptions. God is not like that at all and always wants what is best for us even when we don't want it and even though we never deserve it. I sometimes hear people say they want God to give them what they deserve. Not me, I don’t want to go to hell, which is what all of us deserve. God doesn’t want to give us what we deserve as evidenced by him taking what we deserve and offering us what he deserves. Jesus had to be treated like a filthy sinner so I could be treated like a son.
Do you really think God will fail to offer you an opportunity He already planned on giving you because you failed in the past? God knew you would fail before He ever gave you the previous chances and still planned for your future.
Isaiah 43:18 So don’t remember what happened in earlier times. Don’t think about what happened a long time ago.
If you stop accepting the grace of God because you have failed in the past than you are saying that His grace isn't sufficient for you, like you have to earn it. If you think you have to earn grace than you think you are in charge of your own salvation, and to think you can save yourself is to diminish the power of God.
The Bible is full of people who failed, some of them multiple times, sometimes spectacularly, and God still used them and blessed them. Jonah failed by running from his assignment to preach to the Ninevites, and again by hoping they wouldn't repent. Moses failed the first few attempts at freeing Israel, and even failed before that, he failed by taking matters into his own hands and murdering an Egyptian. Elijah ran and hit out in the wilderness. Peter failed by denying the Lord three times and again by abandoning the work and going back to his fishing business. Samson failed by lying about where his power came from instead of giving proper credit to God. One thing that all of these people have in common is after they failed, God gave them another chance.
Deuteronomy 31:8 The LORD is the one who is going ahead of you. He will be with you. He won’t abandon you or leave you. So don’t be afraid or terrified.Psalm 37:23-24 The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand.
We, as humans, are imperfect and will always fail, but when we fail God doesn't give up on us or cast us down.
Romans 8:37-39 “In all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death or life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
If none of that can separate us from the love of God than neither can our failures, so long as we know Christ and accept his marvelous and matchless sacrifice. Think of the greatest love you can and multiply that by infinity and that is God's love.
Nehemiah 9:17 “But you are a forgiving God, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love…”
John 15:13 “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
You won't want to miss next weeks episode titled "I don't trust God because I am afraid He won't give me what I need and because I am afraid He will" because I will be discussing those times when we are afraid to ask God for what we really need because we are not sure we want it or are afraid that we can't handle it.
Some of you may not have been raised Christian and was never taught about Jesus and wonder how to give you heart to God. All that is required to give your heart to God is to acknowledge that you are a sinner, ask God for forgiveness, accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior and ask him to come into your heart. If you have never given your heart to God will you pray this prayer?
"Dear God, I know I’m a sinner, and I ask for your forgiveness. I believe Jesus Christ is Your Son. I believe that He died for my sin and that you raised Him to life. I want to trust Him as my Savior and follow Him as Lord, from this day forward. Guide my life and help me to do your will. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen."
If you have any questions about the Bible, Jesus Christ or his work, please go to the contact page and send me a message.