I’ll be honest with you. Being a Christ follower hasn’t always panned out in ways I would have expected. There have been seasons in my walk with God that I have been disappointed, frustrated, confused, and even apathetic.
Because I am human. And because my finite intellect only allows me to rationalize and understand a fragment of who God is and what He is capable of. I don’t intend to keep Him in a box, but I do. I simply lack the ability to understand Him outside of measuring Him against myself.
And there in lies the problem. I have stripped Him of all mystery, omnipotence, sovereignty and glory because I have attempted to contain Him and shape Him by my limited imagination into what I know best: my own limitations.
There were two avenues that led me to this realization on Sunday. The first avenue was during the worship portion of church service. I don’t remember now, three days later, what song it was that we were singing, but there was a line in it that had to do with the forgiveness we have received. So I began to repent and ask forgiveness for various things until I heard the Lord say,
I have already forgiven you of those things. Stop repeating your requests and thinking I didn’t hear you the first time. I can’t move on with you until your forgive yourself. What’s it going to take to let go? What’s the hold up?
Huh… that was not the response I was expecting.
The hold up is me… again. It’s all my pride attempting to dictate when I have finally paid my penance. What a shameful waste of time. And what an obvious root of frustration. My pastor once defined frustration as “unmet expectation.”
Finally, dots began to connect themselves. Any frustration I had with the seeming stillness of God was simply me keeping Him at bay and then blaming Him for not answering when I called. Same song, second verse, and what a tragic tune.
The second light bulb lit up when my pastor began preaching his sermon entitled “Disappointed in Jesus.” In Luke 7: 19, John the Baptist sits in prison, awaiting a sure death, and in the midst of what seemed to be likely uncertainty, sent his disciples to ask Jesus if He really was who He claimed to be. Was He “it” or should they look for another?
John the Baptist questioned in the final moments. John the Baptist, the forerunner and literal cousin of Jesus, wavered beneath the weight of his circumstances and asked the question so few of will ever admit to: “Jesus… are you really who you say you are? If I did all that you asked, how did I end up here?”
And how did Jesus respond to His beloved?
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them” (Luke 7:22).
Typical Jesus. No direct answer. Instead, He quotes Isaiah and challenges John, and us, to recall what we have seen Him do because in His actions alone, is proof enough.
It’s no secret that I wrestle with fear, insecurity, and doubt. A lot. But why I continue to is beyond me. The only evidence I have in my life of God is His hand at work orchestrating my every day, providing for my every need, and revealing Himself clearly when I choose to look. And still, I find myself disappointed or frustrated that it didn’t pan out just how I imagined because I have days, like the rest, that are hard.
But I haven’t sat on death row before, like John. I honestly can’t imagine the disappointment or perhaps even disillusionment he may have felt as he sat there trying to rework the equation of his life’s work. How was this the sum total of his efforts?
My pastor quoted Gene Edwards, author of “The Prisoner in the 3rd Cell.” In his book, Edwards concludes,
Die, my brother John, in the presence of a God that did not live up to your expectations.
The question I walked away with was simply this: Do I believe God enough to trust that should the rest of my life bring nothing but suffering, He would walk beside me, ordaining each pain for His glory and my good?
I pray that tomorrow I answer with a resounding yes. I hope the same for you, friend.