I’m noticing that in the tough times, particularly the times when God falls silent or refuses to answer as I’m expecting, it’s easy to turn Him into nothing more than superstition. I suppose I’ve always done this, and I also supposed I’m not alone, but the words for this have finally come.
It’s a bit more sophisticated than eeny-meeny, but not by much. It’s more like flipping a Holy coin and expecting God to guide its landing. You know you’ve been there:
Ok God, you say. Whatever Scripture I open the Bible to…whatever song comes on the radio next….whatever commercial pops up…if the car starts…if it’s not raining…if this certain outfit of my clothing is clean…if the phone rings in the next three minutes…make it four…five….if I win this game of solitaire or this hand of euchre or this board of minesweeper…if traffic is light…if I have exact change…et cetera…ad nauseum…into infinity.
Yet we’re so deluded that we think this is somehow different than blowing on a pair of dice in Vegas or crossing our fingers. I know I’m that deluded sometimes. I catch myself turning God into superstition without conscious effort, without even thinking about it.
And that shames me.
So why do we do this? It’s because we know we’re out of control, but we’re only barely willing to admit it. We want something we can hold on to, something we can trust in, something to ease our minds…so we look for God. And somewhere, somehow, we came to the theology that God is talking to us all the time if we’re only willing to open our eyes and see that He is so.
Over and over, the Bible reveals the stories of men and women used by God, faithful and unfaithful, righteous and unrighteous, Jew and Gentile, redeemed and wandering…God uses people. Over and over, we read about the conversations between these individuals and God. In some cases, we are privy to the individual’s private thoughts and prayers and statements to God. We know that since the beginning of time, people have talked to Him. We have talked to Him. We know that since the beginning of time, God has talked back.
But He’s no chatterbox.
Name one person in the Bible who God constantly spoke to. Who He sent signs for every second of the day. There is not one. Not even for His own Son did He do this. Jesus, too, went through periods of wondering, questioning if God would answer.
He prayed in the garden just before Judas betrayed Him. What was the content of that prayer? We see it! “Father, if it is possible….” That’s it. Not “Show me some sign that you are taking this away…that it will get better…that this isn’t really the plan…that I’ll be fine….etc.” Did He then carry His cross to Skull Hill, looking left and right for a flower amongst weeds, a dew drop, a rainbow, a broken stick with an arrow, a rock, a missing sandal, or any of the other million tiny things we expect God sends to guide us? Did Christ walk to the cross with TWO burdens – that of His mission and Messiahship…AND that of awaiting a sign from God?
By no means!
But we do. We might, MIGHT, be bold enough to walk straight into the darkness, confident that God is speaking to us or will once we get there. But the whole way, we’re watching every which direction for His answer…and we find it where we want. We ascribe meanings to so many things, just for the peace of mind it gives us when we realize we are out of control. We do not run our own lives, not once we have given them up to the Father.
It’s tough, I know. We want so desperately to hear from God. And don’t get me wrong – I have heard from Him plenty of times, and I’m not going to be the one to sit here and tell you that He doesn’t answer. He answers boldly! Gently, quietly, occasionally with a loud boom…but only in His time and in His way. He can (and does) use both the small and the large, the expected and the unexpected, to answer us. That is His loving nature, for which I am ever thankful.
Still I know there are times by sheer coincidence that something beautiful happens, and it is no answer. It is only a gift. A beautiful expression of His majesty, not meant to guide or direct or answer me, but to remind me of His Presence and glory. To remind me to stop, let go, and praise His wonder.
So why, then, in tough times, do I trade Him in for a god of superstition, for that god of coincidence that just so happens to coincide with my desire? I can’t delude myself into thinking it is any more than that because, as games of chance go, I’m always willing to change the rules by which God will talk to me when it doesn’t turn out my way.
If I win this next game of solitaire…ok that one doesn’t count because it was obviously dealt wrong. So the next one. Well, that one seems fishy, too. Ok, this is it. I mean it this time! If I win this next game, then…I meant the NEXT next one. Obviously, You knew that, God, right? WHY AREN’T YOU ANSWERING ME?
Then I end up with exactly what I sought – a god who answered through sheer chance when I changed the rules and my belief enough to make that god agree with me, then waited patiently for the powers of the universe to come together and make it happen.
What I don’t get…is God’s honest answer.
This is only one of the many ways I shape God in my image, creating Him just as I want Him to be so that I am always right, and He is always wise to agree with me. It’s a significant barrier to the loving, open relationship He calls me to, and it is an area that requires sincere effort on my part to notice, halt, repent, and form something new.
THAT excites me. And many times, it is in the realization that He hasn’t truly spoken yet…that He decides to speak. Then, my heart dances and peace buzzes through me gently, and I know…TRULY know…what He says, what He is doing, where my trust and faith lay, and just how much this Beautiful God loves me.