Can You Be a Realist and Still Have Faith?

Public domain image from www.public-domain-image.comI saw a friend ask this question on my Facebook feed recently.

We all desire. Victory, deliverance, breakthrough, blessing, healing, hearts’ desires. It’s a tricky high-wire, for no matter what some say, the Christian life is not all about these things. George Herbert wrote,

To be in both worlds full
Is more than God was, who was hungry here.

Is a servant is greater than his master? The Bible doesn’t stutter: not every prayer will be granted in this life. And that is both curse and privilege. We simply must start there. If you can’t accept that word, your life will be a shattering staccato of foiled expectations.

However.

I’ve also learned not to put limits on God’s generosity. He is scandalously generous. Sometimes the church, in frustration with the masses grasping for “prosperity” and deaf to all else, races to the other extreme and throws cold water on blessing of any kind. You’ve probably absorbed this yourself. Just observe your reaction if I write the phrase “bold prayer”. You instantly pull up and worry: Is this right? Respectful? Scriptural? It’s understandable hesitation.

But God does answer prayer. The Bible speaks of many such times, holds them out  rather excitedly. God reveals himself through “yes” as well as “no”.

So…where is this generosity? Our experiences don’t match up to that awesome power  – yet. “This is reality,” we want to say. “God doesn’t do that stuff anymore.”

I certainly want to believe. What is reality if God is your God?

But regardless of how many stories we hear about provisions and breakthroughs, something in our hearts has a hard time with faith. Some of us are fed up with hope; others are just down-to-earth by nature. We feel stuck between reality and faith, between hope and surrender. “If I’m going to undertake a long season of prayer,” we say, “then I want to know I’m grounded in reality.”

You could have been friends with Abraham.

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Singles Training #5: How to View God

mountain-climbing-768813_960_720“But God…you’re just so boring.”

The confession was guilty, but honest.

I was in the waning years of my teens, struggling with loneliness, and had stumbled upon an article telling me to “find my ultimate satisfaction in God”. The author just dropped that little gem in front of me and then…finis. End of article. Walked away without telling me how to do it, how to find pleasure in a God I couldn’t see or hear.

As if it’s a piece of cake or something.

Relationship with the unseen is hard. I don’t wake up every morning and have a crisis of belief over whether my best friend exists. I’ve seen him, I’ve heard from him, and even though we don’t get to hang out as much as we’d like, I know – easily, simply, without a doubt – that he loves me as a brother.

It isn’t like that with God. He’s intangible. Elusive. He tends to speak with a still, small voice. Sometimes it takes hour of prayer, Scripture, and meditation to hear him.

I certainly believed in God through Scripture, saw him as a master and a savior. But intimacy? Delight? That’s another level. Especially when I felt I was disappointing him, that our relationship was mostly expectations. When the Psalmist spoke of “eternal pleasures at his right hand” (Psalm 16:11), I felt guilty. Like when you sing the lyrics “O How He Loves” and secretly groan, “It’s a beautiful song, but I have NO idea what he’s talking about.”

Who wants to be pressured into a relationship?

Especially with human fulfillment so seemingly close at hand, so simple to drink from. Home and hearth and sex and babies seemed way more tantalizing. Everyone else seemed to be getting such a kick out of it. Looking back I can see the illusion, how tense and spotty it really was, but at the time, I remained blind. God seemed like the manipulative mother, sabotaging her son’s life so he’d stay home.

So I spent years resenting the very God who wanted to fill me. I accepted a grievous lie, one which I believe many Christian singles have embraced deep down.

“God can’t really fill me like a mate can.”

If you don’t think you’ve embraced this lie, tell me your reaction if I told you you’d be single the rest of your life. How do you feel? Do you have something else to fall back on?

I didn’t.

I’m embarrassed about it now. But I didn’t.

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