So I’m sitting in youth group yesterday, listening to someone recite James 1 from memory. It’s a well-done affair, with only an occasional reversion to cue cards. But one verse leaps out and trips me up, and it occurs to me that it’s always done so.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)
It makes you blink, jump back, and scan it again to make sure you read it right. As if you were reading this sentence and suddenly octopus.
God gives generously to all…without finding fault?
It’s the Bible, so it can’t be a typo (despite what the skeptics say). It must be the truth. But it reveals a deep heart belief of mine, like the beam of a flashlight piercing deep into a long-forgotten basement.
I thought all God ever does is find fault.
The lesson of Matthew 14:22-33 should be rote for us by now. Peter sees Jesus walking on the water, gets out of the boat, and walks out to meet him – until he starts paying more attention to the waves instead of Jesus. That’s when he starts to sink.
Keep your eyes on Jesus, the lesson teaches us (echoed by Hebrews 12:1), and not on the wind and waves of your circumstances.
Unfortunately, we’re all still rather bad at it.
Sometimes I wonder if that’s because we don’t realize all the many forms that “looking at the waves” can take.
It’s one of those little fluffy kerfluffles of human philosophy, one that at least has the honesty to face the reality of we’re not home yet and try to make peace with it.
“Maybe it’s about the journey, not the destination”.
I say bogus.
I say the Christian life is about the destination.
(WARNING: Scripture ahead. I know some of you experience an instinct to kinda “check out” and skip Scripture because it’s too dense, too preposition-heavy, too hard to understand, it’s something you just plain don’t like, etc. DON’T. If you’ve honored me by clicking on this post, I urge you to fight that instinct. Read through the Scriptures. There are treasures waiting.)
You know what I mean.
You experience some amazing sermon or mountaintop experience and come out all fired up for the glory of God, proclaiming “God, take ALL of me! My finances, my physical location, my family, my occupation, my heart…everything is yours. I’m seeking what you want for my life!”
And then you pause and go, “Wait…what have I just done?” Your breath catches a little, as if you’ve just leaped off the edge of a fifty-foot cliff.
Because you know that’s a prayer God will answer. And you know he isn’t going to mind your comfort zone when he does. You start looking around nervously, half expecting a team of angels to appear and start packing your stuff for that move you’re hoping God won’t think of.
Some of us never make the leap. We just stand perpetually on the edge of the cliff, looking down, turning over in our minds the idea of asking God what he wants for our lives, left breathless by the knowledge of the floodgate that could open. He might have you move to Nigeria and do mission work for a year – or a half-century. He might choose not to heal your loved one of that heinous cancer. He might ask you to let go of that attractive guy/girl you can’t stop thinking about. He might ask you to walk away from a dream – or, perhaps more terrifying, to run towards it. He might tell you to forgive, or admit you were wrong, or make an annoyingly inconvenient change in your household. Or he might simply tell you to stay faithful and keep doing what you’re doing – the same exact “what” that you’ve been doing for seemingly decades.
Yep. Asking God what he wants can be a terrifying thing.
But what if it doesn’t have to be that way? What if instead, the terror reveals something about us that should not be?