How do you think of God? Is He more fatherly, or kingly? Does he rule from a distance, or with his hands all intricately inside? Does he walk beside you, looking over your shoulder, or does he look down from above? Is he the engineer or the artist?
The bible-thunker would say all of the above. He is God, and he can be anything he wants to be. But what do we focus on instinctively? What is your initial thought of God?
Mine? The disapproving dad. The frustrated coach. I see God as the coach constantly watching his team fail him no matter what he says. Why? Because I know I fail him. I look at my sins and the things God has given me and my overall lack of faithfulness. I look and the insignificant hands and wonder why God continues to trust Him. Because, if I was Him, I would have benched me in the first second of the first quarter.
But I’m not, so there’s that.
I know I don’t understand God’s will, and many times I don’t ask to. I know He has the best plan, and I don’t need to know the whole thing to be obedient. I most just ask for Him to assure me that this is His plan, that He sincerely is in control. As long as He is and not some idiot, not unlike myself, it will be ok.
This doesn’t really sound like a healthy relationship to have. I’m no psychologist, but it is probably not. A lot of people have a joyous relationship with God. It’s built and reflects peaceful times, giving them something to hold on to in the middle of the storm. I don’t know why, but mine is built on the struggle with God, knowing that he will win. I live in my brokenness, in the thirst of dependency for grace. Our relationship is built on rant-filled arguments and prayers that end in disgust and anger more than tears of joy. I think that’s why I identify spiritually more with “How Much A Dollar Cost” by Kendrick Lamar than “First” by Lauren Daigle. Because I see myself in this broken heap than I do beautifully offering what I have to God.
In short, I look at our relationship in the spectacles of how far I am from God versus how close He is to me. It sounds selfish, almost woe is me. I don’t use it to beat myself up, but this is where I find myself. So what does that all mean? It means, my first look at the world shows me a broken one. The first thing I see in myself aren’t my strengths, but my weaknesses. And in my weakness, He is strong, right? Then He’s gotta be super strong, because I’ve lost count of my weaknesses. I’ve lost track of all of my selfishness, arrogance, and pride.
Speaking of selfishness, I’ve used the word “I” 22 times already. See what I mean?
Here’s the thing. At the end of the day, I am not a good person,. All of my best intentions are stained with sinful lusts and passions that I am still slave to. As I try to reflect Christ, the mirror I use is shattered, broken, and missing pieces. And that’s okay.
Because, at the end of the day, God is the ultimate good. It is through Him alone that I can ever look good, even remotely. By His grace, he hasn’t yanked my pathetic excuse for a life out of the game. And I know it has to be in his plans. Why? Because, no matter how many times I doubt it, I know He is still God. And He’s got this under control. He has all of my broken pieces and has put me back together with his tedious hands. He zoomed in on the defeated condition of my heart, and repairs it, no matter how many times I throw it to the ground destroying it again. He looks at all of my pain, and knows it comes from a place of sincerity, of sorrow. Because He knows just as I do that I fail Him. He has the best picture of how much I’ve failed Him, and He knows that I really don’t want to.
So He gives me these talents, and tells me to be faithful. Yet he knows, that I am the wicked and lazy servant, burying them in the ground again and again. And the crazy thing is that He loves me any way. When I surrender to Him, offering my life to him once again, he takes it, treasuring all of the bruises and pieces missing from it. By no means does this meet any of the Old Testament requirements of a sacrifice, but it is all I have to give Him. Even my best things are less than garbage in the face of perfection.
So we will continue to dance this dance. I will break something, going to Him in anger and frustration that He gave it to me to begin with. I tell Him to stop giving me things, and He won’t, because at the end of the day, God has more hope for me than I have for myself.
And if that’s not grace, then I don’t know what is.