Why I don't trust God, part 6: I foolishly think I know better than He does.
Because we don’t
have a clear picture of the future we have a preconceived idea of how life should go, and when it doesn't go the way in which we plan we get discouraged and we question God.
Have you ever had one of those moments when you saw something go down and said to yourself, "If I were God I would have done it differently," or something to that regard? If the answer is yes than there have been times when you thought you knew better than God. Some people doubt the goodness of God, or doubt God altogether, because they foolishly think they know more than God does or because they think they know better than God does how to handle some situations. I admit that there have been times when I have thought I knew better about a specific situation than God did, and I was upset when God followed His plan instead of mine.
Because we don't have a clear picture of the future we have a preconceived idea of how life should go, and when it doesn't go the way in which we plan we get discouraged and we question God. Some of us are single longer than we wanted to be and question God (guilty as charged). Some of us want children and can't conceive after years of trying and the adoption fell through for the tenth time and we either think God is cruel and doesn't love us or that He is somehow negligent in His duties to us.
Abram in the Bible had all but given up hope of ever having children because both he and his wife Sarah were old. When Abraham was 75 the Lord promised him that he would be the father of many nations. When Abraham was 85 and he still had not had a child he accused the Lord of failing to keep his promise, and thinking he was about to die, was about to give his inheritance to Eliezer of Damascus, his chief servant.
From the time the Lord made the promise to Abraham to the time Isaac was born to Sarah was twenty five years. Twenty five years, most of us can't bear to wait one year for something. It was tough for Abraham and Sarah and they didn't always act in the manner in which they should, but the Lord fulfilled His promise, in His time. Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time and a season for everything under heaven. From other passages we learn that God's ways are higher than ours and His time is not the same as ours. If we ask for something and say we want or need it right now, our right now is not the same as God's.
God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.
When Isaac was still a boy, the Lord wanted to challenge Abraham's faith and asked him to sacrifice his son. God knew He would send the Ram to get caught in the thickets, but Abraham didn't know that. We all think we would act a certain way in a situation but we only truly know when we are in that situation.
Jacob, Isaac' son, fell in love with Rachel and arranged with Laban, her father, to work seven years in exchange for her hand in marriage. Jacob faithfully worked for Laban for seven years, but when the time came Laban pulled a fast one and tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, Rachel's older sister. Once Jacob confronted Laban he was told that the older daughter had to marry first but that after the wedding week was over if he would agree to work another seven years he could marry Rachel. It took fourteen years for Jacob to get to the position he thought it would only take seven to get to. If God is making you wait for something you are in good company.
We all question God sometimes and think our wisdom reigns superior. Some of the time we know full well we think we know better than God on an issue, but most of the time, I think, we don't consciously realize that we are placing our own intelligence and wisdom above that of God. We often rationalize that we trust God in all things we just know that this thing could or should be done differently.
Romans 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools.
Forest Gump famously quoted his mother as saying, "Stupid is as stupid does," well thinking our limited and finite minds are smarter than an infinite and eternal God is pretty stupid. When we become educated we think we are wise. A lot of people learn their way out of faith, but true knowledge understood does not contradict God it is evidence of Him. There is often a difference between intelligence and wisdom. Worldly learning, while it can be extremely useful and beneficial, is not the end of all things and if not placed into the larger whole can give a distorted and unrealistic view of the world.
Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit and wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad. Or another way of saying it is, Intelligence is knowing those jeans do, in fact, make your wife look fat; wisdom is knowing better than to say so.
Two women, the Bible says they were prostitutes, came before King Solomon with a dispute as to whose child the infant brought before him was. One woman's child died when she accidentally laid on it during the night so she wanted to claim the other woman's child to replace her own. Solomon was intelligent enough to know which woman the baby belonged to and wise enough to know how to publicly demonstrate it in an undeniable way.
You see, Solomon knew that the true mother would do anything to save the life of her child, even if that meant she would never see the child again. Solomon called for a swordsmen to cut the baby in half and give each woman half. One woman, the woman who had lost her child, was fine with the arrangement, the other woman, however, threw herself down at Solomon's feet and begged for the infant's life to be spared, professing that she had lied and the baby belonged to the other woman. The one woman's actions demonstrated that she was the true mother of the child, even though her words said she was not. Solomon gave the child to the woman who cared, the child's real mother.
How many times have we forgotten that God's timing is not our timing and got upset when things didn't happen when we thought they should? When we pray for something and don't get it according to the timeline we had in mind we freak out and sometimes even get angry with God because we think we know better than God and that the plan we had was or is better than the plan God has for us.
When I was in my late teens I fell madly in love with a young lady, but she wouldn't give me the time of day and she finally gave me the dreaded, "You are a nice guy and any woman would be lucky to have you, except me of course, I look at you like a brother" speech. I prayed for years that she would change her mind, and all I accomplished was a lot of wasted time and wasted opportunities because I would not seriously date anyone else because I wanted to be available when she finally changed her mind about me. Nearly twenty years later, I see that I would have been better off to have moved on right away and instead of praying for something God did not have planned for me to pray that I would know when I had met the person God had planned for me and that I would be patient if it took a long time.
I don't think I have ever consciously prayed for patience because I know how it would be achieved; by waiting an agonizingly long time for something I felt I could not live without. I think of it like the little boy that asked his elderly neighbor who used to be a weightlifter how to get muscles and the old man agreed to help him. After months of cutting and chopping wood and doing other hard labor the boy angrily approached the man and asked when he would show him how to get muscles. The old man had the boy flex his arms and told him he already had his muscles, earned by hard work. The muscles didn't come the way the boy thought, the easy way, but the old man kept his word and the boy got his muscles. Sometimes we have to be careful what we ask for.
I can't count the number of times I have been disappointed because I have tried to impose my time schedule on God. The God of the universe doesn't break a sweat because He hasn't met my deadline, and I am convinced that sometimes He makes me wait longer to teach me patience.
"Even the wisest can't see all ends."
Gandalf, Lord of the Rings
A lot of our anxiety is caused by the fact that we can't see how all things will turn out and from an incomplete set of data we come to a wildly incorrect conclusion. As Gandalf said in The Lord of the Rings, "Even the wisest can't see all ends."
Be warned, the following story has more than a few spoilers for Avengers the Infinity War, so if you haven't seen it yet and plan on seeing it you may want to skip the next three paragraphs.
In the movie, Thanos is trying to get all of the infinity stones so that he can control the universe and kill, at random, half of the universe so the survivors would have a greater chance of survival and would not have to compete for resources. Close to the beginning of the movie, Dr. Strange tells Tony Stark that if it ever came down to a choice between saving him or protecting the Eye of Agamotto, an Infinity stone with the ability to manipulate time, that he would let Stark die without a second thought.
Later in the movie Dr. Strange and Tony Stark, AKA. Iron Man, are preparing for a fight with Thanos and Dr. Strange looks at the millions of possible outcomes of the fight and says they only win in one of them. Later, when Thanos is about to kill Tony Stark, Dr. Strange offers the stone in exchange for Starks life. After Thanos leaves, Dr. Strange tells Stark that it was the only way, and after Thanos does his magic to destroy half of the universe, just before Dr. Strange dies, he tells Stark that they were in the end game.
Of course, Tony Stark was extremely upset and had no idea how allowing the villain to win would allow them to win. From Stark's perspective all was lost, but from Dr. Strange's perspective they had already won, even though he had to die for it. God knows the future and has good reasons why he does the things He does, and a good reason for when He chooses to do them.
As I said before, even the wisest can't see all ends. Well, I don't know how things will turn out for the Avengers because that is a closely guarded Marvel secret but I have some ideas. However, most, if not all of my ideas, will turn out to be wrong. Accepting the possibility that we may be wrong is the beginnings of humility.
If we were truly humble we would not think we know better than God. It is when we are full of pride we think ourselves smarter than God. "Pride leads to destruction, and arrogance to downfall." -Proverbs 16:18
If we don't have an attitude of "thy will be done" than we don't trust God and think we are smarter than God. If we are afraid of telling God that we are fine with His will then we are not fine with His will, and the only reason for us to not be fine with God's will is if we think we know better than He does.
It is not always wrong to question God and some people in the Bible questioned God, such a Habakkuk, but they approached it from a place of humility rather than a place of arrogance or pride or doubt. Habakuk did not think he knew better than God, but he was having a difficult time understanding why God would allow such suffering and why He would allow evil to prosper. Basically, Habakuk said, "God, I trust you and know you are good, but I don't understand what you are doing here, please explain it to me so that I may understand your will in all of this."
God told Habakkuk the He would do amazing things, things Habakuk would not believe if told. Still Habakkuk questioned God because of all of the horrible things that were happening and because the wicked were prospering. When Habakkuk questioned God answered, but not in the way expected. God said that Jerusalem would be destroyed by Babylon and those who fought against it would be destroyed but those who did not would be brought into captivity.
When God answered Habakkuk’s question He urged everyone to be patient and ultimately trust in Him. ''Behold, as for the proud one, his soul is not right within him; but the righteous will live by his faith”- Habakkuk 2:4.
We can see many good things that have happened because of the invasion, things that Habakkuk could not see such as the spreading of the Jewish people and the creation of synagogues made the spreading of the gospel easier after Jesus came. When the apostles were sharing the good news their first stop in a region was often the synagogue.
"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face." - Job 13:5
Job was just minding his own business and living according to what God had told him to do when the Lord allowed the devil to take everything from him. Job still trusted God, thought everyone he knew urged him to do the opposite, but even though he trusted God he still argued his case to God. "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face." - Job 13:5
There have even been a few people who argued respectfully with God and got what they wanted, thought they are the exception rather than the rule. When Moses went up to the mountain to get God's law the people decided that he had died since he had been gone so long and made a golden cow to worship. God was understandably angry with these foolish people after doing so many miracles to free them from captivity and they not only turned their back on Him, they made themselves a new god. Some of the Israelites even wanted to go back to Egypt because they were afraid that Moses just took them out into the wilderness so they could die or so he could rule them.
God told Moses that He was going to destroy the children of Israel but Moses pleaded with God to turn from His wrath and to remember His promises to Abraham Isaac and Jacob. God turned from His wrath, but when Moses returned to the camp he was a bit unhinged and threw the stone tablets, breaking them in pieces becoming the first person to break all ten commandments at the same time. Moses was also the first person to download data onto a tablet from the cloud. Anyhow, after Moses broke the tablets he burned the golden calf in the fire and ground it to pieces, mixed it with water and made the people drink it.
When Abraham learned that Sodom was to be destroyed he pled with God to spare the city if he could find fifty righteous people, but eventually the number was whittled down to ten. Abraham argued back and forth with God, and while Sodom was not spared, Lot, Abraham's nephew, and his family were spared the destruction of the city.
Another story from the Bible where a person argued successfully with God was Hezekiah the great king of Israel. Hezekiah had done much to return the people to God after his father had led them to idolatry and ruin, but he made some poor choices as well. When Isaiah came to Hezekiah and told him that he was to die and that he needed to get his house in order he wept, prayed and begged God to allow him to live longer. God granted Hezekiah's request and allowed him to live fifteen more years.
Most of the time when we argue with God we don't get what we ask for, partially because we are approaching it from a place of pride instead of a place of humility, but also because what we are asking for is not in God's will. In order to truly believe that God is all He says He is and smarter than us we have to accept His word as final when He denies our request or gives us something other than what we wanted.
In the past I have thought that if I were God I would have prevented all the wars, all the murders, all the suffering and, all of the rape, all of the child abuse, all the diseases, natural disasters and all other methods of death, destruction and torment, but any time I think I would have done things differently I am basically saying I am smarter than God or that I know better than God does. Sometimes I think about what I would do if I were God and than I think of some of my less flattering character traits and I realize what a horrible God I would be and I am glad that I am not, as I am sure everyone else is as well.
Napoleon Dynamite Bus
Pocatello Regional Transit was my first bus driving job. The bus I am posing next to is the bus used in the movie Napoleon Dynamite.
I drove for PRT for 5 years before moving to Nebraska and driving a tour bus.
I drove a bus for nearly twelve years and on the top of my list of places I hated to drive in was Chicago, Illinois. On one of my many, many trips to Chicago I had just been cut of by a taxi cab for about the thirtieth time in the space of about a block and I was furious. Chicago cabbies drive so horribly that it is miraculous that they don't have an astronomical death rate. I think it is mostly due to the fact that everyone assumes the cabs are going to do something incredibly stupid and dangerous that there are not more cab related accidents. Anyhow, on that particular day I almost made a hood ornament out of a cab as a 45 foot tour bus can't stop on a dime and I thought to myself, "If I were God I would immediately and irrevocably send every single taxi cab driver to the lowest depths of hell!" and the scary thing is, at the time I actually meant it and if I'd had the power of God I would have done it without a second thought. Thinking back on it I am ashamed of myself. There are a lot of things that secure a person's spot in hell, but I doubt poor driving is one of them.
God is good and doesn't send us to hell because we are a terrible driver, or for any of the other petty reasons we think other people should go to hell for, though knowingly hurting people with your vehicle either through negligence, intoxication or intentionally using your vehicle as a weapon likely makes a person a good candidate as a new resident of the hot place.
While I am on the subject of taxi cabs, I heard a joke a while back where a preacher and a taxi cab driver went to heaven at the same time and the cabbie was given the best of everything and the preacher was given the standard package. The preacher complained about it, mentioning that he had spent his entire life in the service of God, so Saint. Peter said, "We judged based on the results. While you preached everyone slept, but while he drove everyone prayed." Of course, there is no scriptural justification for this type of setup in heaven, but than again, it is just a joke.
There are all sorts of things in which we think we are smarter than God, and some of those things are the rules God gives us. God gives us rules for society and when we make alternate rules we think we know better than God. To almost every rule God gave us in the Bible someone has come up with an alternate rule. Have you ever noticed that regardless of the rule or law, be it from God, society or work, there are always at least a few people who think they are the exception to the rule.
There has been a lot of talk lately about alternate facts and alternate truths, but something is either a fact or it isn't and something is either true or it is a lie, which I hope to dedicate an entire episode to in the future. If we make alternate rules to those God has given us than we either don't trust God, think we are smarter, or willingly disregard God's rules in open rebellion against Him.
There are all sorts of alternate rules in society, especially lately. People think that God's laws are outdated and no longer relevant, and many of the people who change or negate God's rules claim to be Christian and claim to be doing a good job at it. Those people who are trying to change or go around God's rules are like the intern who is lucky to just be there yet thinks he or she is smarter than the owner of the company and wishes to change rules that have been in place in the company for hundreds of years. "The company would run better if we would do such and such. Some of the safety rules are just so outdated, " they say and, "what does it matter if we aren't hurting anyone."
When we try to change the laws or God, go around the rules, or get rid of the rules, we are saying in a big way that we are smarter than God. Some people openly and proudly proclaim their superior wisdom and knowledge to the "outdated" God. Other people are not so bold and deny that they think they claim they are smarter than God but think they are all the same.
When God gives us rules they are not suggestions like the pirates code, those of you who have seen the Pirates of the Caribbean know what I am talking about, but perhaps I should explain for those of you who haven't seen the movie. In the first movie, The Curse of the Black Pearl, Elizabeth Swan, the governor's daughter, is captured by pirates and before they can harm her she says, "Parlay" which means they can't harm her and have to take her to their captain. After meeting Captain Barbosa and negotiating with him Swan says that he has to honor his agreement because of the pirates code.
In response, Captain Barbosa says that in order for the pirate's code to apply she must be a pirate, which she is not, and than said that the pirate's code was more of a guideline than actual rules. God's rules are rules and not mere guidelines, but sometimes society goes farther than making them guidelines and says they don't apply at all and are not relevant. Often, people think they know more than God and they throw out God's rules for rules of their own making, rules that are more politically correct.
I recently read an opinion piece that made the claim that it isn't enough to love the sinner, we also must love all of the activities we or the Bible considers to be sin if they are an integral part of the person's identity in order to truly love the person. Please don't get me wrong; I am not saying that all sins are equal, but I have to wonder what they would say about a person who identifies as a white supremacist, as a rapist or as a serial killer and that one of those traits were an integral part of his or her identity. Would they still say that we had to love those behaviors in order to love the person?
Other times we think we are smarter than God because He put us into a place or a circumstance and when He later wants to move us we question His judgement and think our wisdom reigns supreme and that our plan to stay put is better than God's plan to move us. Just because God put you in a place or a situation doesn't mean that He wants you to stay there forever. Some of the places or events God leads us to are just stepping stones and if we don't have the faith to follow into the unknown than we will miss out on the great things God has planned for us.
We say that we trust God but are afraid to give up our safety blanket. We have all known children who would refuse to give up their comfort and security item, be it a blanket or other item such as a stuffed animal, and when we refuse to give up our security item and trust God that is the adult equivalent of a child clinging to the safety blanket for dear life.
As I mentioned earlier, I drove a bus for nearly twelve years and due to a multitude of circumstances and events that came about through that I have no doubt that God wanted me to drive a bus, however, when the time came to move on I was a bit hesitant. Now, even after not driving a bus for almost three years and knowing that I made the right decision, I insisted on maintaining my commercial drivers license, just in case. Just in case what I am not sure, but just in case.
A few months ago I received a letter from the state telling me that I had to renew my DOT physical or my license would be downgraded to a regular operator license. Though I no longer needed the CDL I planned on renewing the physical to keep my license but I had been so busy that I forgot. When I was driving commercially my employer would schedule me a visit to renew the physical and would not only pay for it but would also have me do it on company time, but now that I wasn't driving commercially it was up to me and it got forgotten.
About a week ago I received another letter from the state, this time informing me that my license had beed downgraded and that I could no longer legally drive a commercial vehicle. Even though I could not think of a single compelling reason why I needed to maintain my CDL, I was instantly hit with a wave or regret and fear and even broke out into a cold sweat because of worry. Logically I knew if I ever wanted to drive commercially again I could get another CDL, but fear overtook me. "What if?" I asked. What if what? Was I really asking what if God let me down and I had to do it all on my own? I think I was. Shame on me!
I have compelling reasons to believe that God wanted me to move to Missouri and move on from bus driving, and if I keep trying to go back to what was before than I am not trusting God, I am trusting myself. I don't want to be like Lot's wife, continually looking back to where God has taken me from instead of toward where He is leading me toward.
In a movie called A Long Way Down, which in my opinion is a phenomenal movie, four strangers meet by chance on the rooftop of a tall building when they all pick the same night to commit suicide. Relax, no one killed themselves, but each of the four did make three new friends. Later the four go on a vacation together and one of the four, a lady namedMaureen, wants to bail on the vacation and on the group and return to her old life when a young man named J.J reminds her that her old life wasn't that good, especially since it made her want to end it all.
We as humans sometimes have the overwhelming desire to run back to what was "comfortable" and familiar and other times we want run to something new, thinking it will solve our problems. Sometimes we desperately want to run when God wants us to stay right where we are, and when we don't immediately see the reason behind it we get impatient and complain or consider ditching God's plan and substituting one of our own in its stead.
In the Bible a man named Gideon was approached by an angel and was called "mighty man of valor." At that point do you know what Gideon had done to earn that title? Not a single thing. Gideon, by the way, is the only person the Bible calls mighty warrior or mighty man of valor; not even the great king David earned that title. God knew what He was going to do through Gideon and gave him the title based on that, not what he had done on his own.
Gideon was chosen to defeat the Midianites and when he was gathering his army God told him that he had too many men. Gideon wound up taking on the Midian army with a force of only 300, and they won the battle by shouting and throwing their clay jars on the ground during the night, which caused the Midianites to flee. Gideon trusted God, but what if he hadn't?
I no longer remember the name of the story or who wrote it, but I once heard a story of a Marine company that had been sent to the enemy camp and the major was told to have his men at the ready at the ridge overlooking the camp at 05:00 but to wait until precisely 05:10 to enter the camp. When the troops showed up at 04:58 and the major saw that the enemy was sleeping he decided that if he waited one of his men might accidentally make a sound and they would loose the element of surprise so he ordered his men into the camp while he remained on the ridge.
The marines bravely went into the enemy camp and did what marines do best but at exactly 05:00 heavy artillery opened fire from somewhere on the other side of the camp killing the enemy and the marines alike. The major was horrified but there was nothing he could do. When the artillery stopped the major looked at his watch and it was exactly 05:10 Realizing he had sent his men to their death the major cried, "I didn't know what the general knew."
God knows what we don't and doesn't tell us to do or not to do things just because, He always has a good reason and when we fail to listen there are always consequences, often disastrous.
Some people like to tell God what to do, but telling God what to do is the spiritual equivalent of being a backseat driver who doesn't actually know how to drive. Those bumper stickers that read, "God is my pilot" are quite popular but if God is actually your pilot than you should stop trying to tell him how to fly the plane. We have all seen examples of how people pilot their own lives without God, and if we are honest, some of those examples are from our own personal decisions, activities, actions and thoughts.
When you don't trust God's timing, when you don't trust God's rules, when you choose your plan over God's plan, when you put God on the back burner to secular reasoning you think you are smarter than God. Galatians 6:7 says, "Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows."
God loves each and every one of us and wants us to return to Him, but He will not force us and if we choose to go somewhere other than heaven he will not drag us there crying and screaming any more than a parent would force feed their child ice cream.