Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Confessions of a recovering Christian fatalist

fa-ta-lism (n.)
1. the belief that all events are predetermined and therefore inevitable.
2. a submissive attitude toward events resulting from such a belief.
As a child, one of the first truths about God I actually grasped is simply, God is God and I am not.  For some reason, this just clicked with me.  As such, I've prided myself on not really ever wrestling with doubt or asking the ever popular "Why?" question of God.

"Why did God allow this to happen?"
Who cares?!  He's God, he knows everything.  He can do whatever the heck he wants to do!

My theme passage was:
Romans 9:20-2120Who are you, a mere human being, to argue with God? Should the thing that was created say to the one who created it, “Why have you made me like this?” 21When a potter makes jars out of clay, doesn’t he have a right to use the same lump of clay to make one jar for decoration and another to throw garbage into?
If there was any concept I got well, it was "Let go, and let God!"  For me, Christian maturity meant that whatever comes to you in life, you suck it up, take it and move on.  Maturity was practically equal to emotional numbness.  Don't question, don't regret, don't let it hurt.  Like the great hymn says, "whatever my lot, thou has taught me to say, 'it is well with my soul.'"

And let me tell you, this picture of God and spirituality worked great for me.  I was stable, unwavering in faith, and well-suited to deal with whatever life would throw at me.

But one thing still struck me as weird.  While I dismissed as immature those who were highly emotional in their pursuit of God, I secretly desired to be stirred in that way.  I had little feeling of personal connection to God whatsoever.

After all, for the Christian fatalist, prayer isn't really conversation.  I believe that God's will is best for me.  I obviously don't exactly know God's will for me in each situation.  So why would I want to risk asking something from God, if it might actually be asking for something that would make my life worse?!  So my prayer life pretty much consisted of: "God may your will be done in my life and our world."

Not exactly soul-stirring, relationship building stuff. (imagine if that was the extent of my conversation with Robin!)

Was this really the goal for Christian maturity?  Was this all God desired for me?

No.  Of course not.

At some point, God began to reveal to me that there was more.  The story of David and Bathsheba stuck out to me once again. Bathsheba was pregnant with a child David fathered during their affair, the one that took place as David was having her husband killed.  As a result, David was told the child would die.

What did he do?  Did he say, "It is well?"
No.  Instead we see him pray like hell.

For seven days, David does nothing but pray and cry before God on behalf of his child.  Nothing.  Not even eat.  This wasn't just giving in.  There was no sucking it up and taking the hand he was dealt.  No, David showed God everything that was in his heart.  He prayed, begging for God to change his mind.  He was so aggressive that his advisers were scared to tell him when the child died 7 days later.

But when they did, a strange thing happened.  David got up from his prayers, washed up, went and worshiped God in the (church), and then had dinner.  When asked about this change, his attitude was, "This situation is over.  Why should I not move on?"

As David was called, "a man after Gods' own heart," it seems that we can learn a lot about what God desires for us from looking at his life.  David believed that life was supposed to be lived with God, not simply deferring to Him.

He talked to God.  Plead with him.  Listened to him.  This is Christian maturity.  This is what we should strive toward.

But after the situation found its sad conclusion, he looked back on things with humble submission to God.  Though he walked with God toward the resolution of life's challenges, he ultimately trusted Him with the final outcomes.

For David, there was still, "It is well," just not before "pray like hell".

God, teach me to both walk with you and submit to you.  Let me share my heart and desires with you, while listening to yours.  Challenge me to hold to the promises you have placed in my heart and fight for them, until you show me differently.  And when you do (and not before) give me the peace to step back and accept your resolution.