Do You Want to Know God, Or His Game?

Are You Getting to Know God, Or His Game?

{This is a big question that requires much more than a blog post. Here today, I will simply examine one molecule on one piece of ice that sits at the tip top of the iceberg. A question like this deserves a book, of which I’m sure there are many.}

I’ve caught myself asking “Why?” a lot lately. After a decision here, a decision there, an event here and a disappointment there, my knee-jerk reaction has been to look toward the sky and ask God, “Why?” Why did this happen? Why do I feel this way? Why couldn’t this have worked out? Or, why did this person do this or that? It’s endless and relentless and I’m surprised God hasn’t put some sort of divine muzzle on me already. But I guess that’s not really how God works.

Instead, He is gentle with us. He sees us (as a friend’s blog reminded me recently). He loves us. He cares for us. At least, these are the things I tell other people. These are things I write on my blog and make readers think I understand and know with everything in me. But the truth is, I think I often doubt God’s love and His ways more than I care to admit, even to myself. You see, in all of this recent asking of “Why?”, I’ve realized that my chief goal has not been to understand God; it has been to understand what God is up to, to understand His game, as if He has a game, and He is playing it.

Deep down I think weird and dark things like this: If I can know why something happened, then I can know what God is up to. And if I know what God is up to, then I can know what’s coming next. And that means, I can predict what leads God to do or allow certain things in my life. And then, jackpot! I can decipher what I need to do in order to get what I want from God.

If you are so pure-of-heart, and this isn’t resonating with you yet, then think of it this way. When you are in a relationship with someone, in order to feel close to them and to grow to love them, you must get to know them. In order to get to know them, you spend time with them. You ask them questions. You allow them to get to know you, too. What you do not do is camp out behind a tree and watch them from a distance through a set of binoculars calculating their every move.

-Susan buys coke from soda machine

-Susan opens can of coke

-Susan takes two sips of coke

-Susan says “hello” to coworker who passes by

What have you learned about Susan from your little detective work? Susan was thirsty or tired or bored and so she drank a coke. What have you learned about her character? Do you feel closer to her now that you learned that she drank a coke this afternoon? Are you now on a path to a loving relationship? NO. Why? Because you were simply interested in her behavior, rather than who she was. In order to love someone, you must want to know who that someone is, aside from his or her behavior.

Sometimes when I’m being a whiny, why-asker, what I’m actually doing is watching God  from behind a tree with my binoculars. I’m not actually interested in getting to know who He is; I’m more interested in knowing what He’s going to do next, and what that means for me and my life and the things I want.

I think I would stomp my foot and demand “Why?!” less often if I trusted who God was. I’m never going to fully know why anyways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Not until I am an immortal being who lives above and outside of time and can see from beginning to end. Not until then, which will be never. So while I’m here, maybe it’s more worth my time to get to know the immortal being who lives above and outside of time. To get to know and trust Him and to just finally put the binoculars down. He may already be much closer than I think.

He’s Not the One That Got Away

The One that Got Away

This phrase has been running around my head lately: He’s not the one that got away. Did you catch that “not” I slid in there? I thought about it one night when I was cooking and listening to the Civil Wars. Their song “The One that Got Away” came on and got me thinking. The song talks about forbidden love, saying “I wish you were the one that got away” and what it’s like to not be able to let go of that person. As I peeled my carrots and listened, I realized I’m fortunate that I’ve never been in a relationship like the one the song describes, wishing that person had gotten away. Then, this truth struck me: No one in my life did get away, at least, not in the sense this phrase entails.

Saying “he’s the one that got away” is like saying “he’s the one I should have been with and then something went wrong and got us off track.” I’ve wondered this before of course, and I’m assuming most of us have when a relationship ends. Did I miss something? Was that a mistake to let him go? Did I do enough to keep him around? Will he be the one that got away?

These questions can make you absolutely nuts. And they don’t apply only to relationships. We ask it about everything. I remember taking forever to decide where I was going to go for graduate school. I was choosing between two schools that were basically exactly the same, just located in different cities. And when I finally chose, I immediately wondered if the one I didn’t choose would be the school that got away. If not going there meant missing out on God’s blessings and will for my life.

Maybe you’ve wondered if that was the job opportunity that got away or the move that got away or the apartment that got away. Whatever it is, I stand here today (because who knows how I will feel about this tomorrow) and can confidently say to you, it’s not. He’s not. She’s not. Whatever it is, if it is no longer a part of your life or an option for you, it didn’t get away; it went away.

In the Bible, we are taught about seasons in life and God’s sovereignty in the same scripture: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

The best way to attempt to overrule God’s timing and plan is to say that something in our lives got away, as if it were a mistake or an accident. I think we can really mean it when we say this. I know I have. I have felt so ridden and full of regret I was certain I had made a wrong decision. I was certain he/it was the one that got away and that I had derailed myself too far this time. But never has this thought brought me peace and never has it propelled me forward, and this is how I’ve grown so convinced that he, it and they did not get away. Because even in stating that, we stray. Even in wondering and questioning the past, we got lost in it.

The people and opportunities in our lives didn’t get away; they went away because it was time for them to. Our job now is to keep our gaze forward. The light, as they say, is at the end of the tunnel.

What Do I Know for Sure? (After One Year of Asking Difficult Questions)

I believe in questions. I say this a lot; I’ll say it again: a life unquestioned is not a life worth living for me. Even the hard the questions. The one your mind reactionally tried to discard so you can’t think about this. Those. Those are the questions I tried to ask myself this year in my Mondays of posing difficult questions series.

My final question of the year goes back to the one I began with: What do you know for sure? I’ve realized this is what I was getting at all along. I wanted to figure out if we, as Christians, could know certain things for sure and if so, what were those things?

One thing I knew already but am now strangely more comfortable with: When it comes to faith, there are aspects I’ll never know for sure. All of this questioning, wondering, guessing, making up answers that ultimately aren’t satisfying and I have to delete and start over. All of that has made me more OK with not knowing everything. When I asked if we were humans or dancers, for example, that’s one I really want the answer to but I don’t have it yet. Also, the praying for your future spouse thing that many had an opinion on–still gets me.  But I’m not up in a wad about these questions like I was before this series. Why not? Because I finally asked them. The effect of simply taking a difficult question out of my head and finally placing it on the table has spurred conversations, some on this blog and a lot in my real life, that made me see others are asking the same thing. And, better yet, they have completely different perspectives than I that shed light on at least a corner of the answer to these questions. I’ve learned to relax and breathe easy about the hard questions that don’t have answers because I’m not the only one searching for them. The quest is not up to just me.

Quenching my need to succeed and make good grades, I am walking away from this series with a specific list of things I do know for sure. For example, as sobering as this is, I am certain most people settle in some way or another in their lives and I am certain this is OK and even a necessity. (As a commenter pointed out to me, settling is very much a first-world word and “problem” anyways.) The other stuff I became certain of this year falls under one sentence: God is sovereign. I am certain of his sovereignty in areas I can’t say I was certain before. He was sovereign in the garden. He is sovereign in poverty. He is sovereign in our weakness and inability to accurately portray who He is during our stints on earth. I don’t use His sovereignty as a blanket response to some of these difficult questions but as a genuine explanation I hadn’t understood before.

This year I have learned much and unlearned more. Unlearning is humbling. It’s forced me to see that my opinions are not steadfast and often not even true. If I stick to them, I’ll get in big trouble. This won’t stop me from creating them. I’m human and, therefore, need to know some things are for sure. That desire is in all of us and begging us to ask difficult, confusing and scary questions. It’s what we were made to do because somewhere, maybe not here, there are answers.