12/10/2006

How Do You Stop a Man From Exploding: Chapter 4...

Are you still with me? Good. Just imagine if I would have posted this as one entry…

When we last left the search, I had concluded that, after asking all kinds of things about my destiny (“What is destiny?”, “Is it possible to know mine?”, “Could I even handle knowing it?”), I had been asking the wrong questions (or maybe pursuing the wrong answer) the whole time. I didn’t really want to know my destiny. But, throughout all the time I spent thinking, reading, researching, and writing on the topic, the things that I learned acted as a kind of mirror. They allowed me to see something in myself, something I lack, that I had never really noticed before.

I don’t trust God.

That’s the punch line. Here’s the joke:

As I was in the process of thinking through all of this stuff about destiny, a couple of things happened which made my thinking take a hard left.

I’ve said before that I’ve been reading Donald Miller’s book, Searching For God Knows What. It’s not uncommon for me to be confronted with new, thought provoking and sometimes convicting ideas when I read Miller. But, a couple of weeks ago I read something that made me stop. In Chapter nine, page 137, Miller writes:

“…I know how very long it has taken me to trust completely in Christ and to understand the ramifications of my relationship with him.”

Upon my initial reading of this, I must admit that it kind of blended in with the rest of the text. But, about a day or two later, for some reason, the statement popped back into my mind. The more that I thought about it the more that it bothered me.

For the better part of the last twelve years I would characterize myself as having been quite a cynical person. I know, after many talks with some of my most trusted friends and mentors (and a lot of time), that this is a result of my feelings of fear associated with intimacy, vulnerability, and abandonment that I have as a result of my Dad leaving our home, and for the most part our lives, when I was fourteen. What do you do when the person you trust the most in your life decides that they would rather not deal with the hassle of being in a relationship with you full-time anymore? As good of an answer as you just came up with, try to deal with that question with a fourteen-year-old mind.

I’ve said before that I believe trust to be the currency of relationships. Deep, healthy, lasting relationships are costly and, as such, require trust. Trust, much like a plant, takes time to grow. Therefore, in order for any relationship to have trust, you have to water it with time. Most people begin new relationships by offering a kind of trust “start up kit”. For instance, on a scale of one to ten (10 being total trust. 1 being an absence of it.) most people, at the beginning of a relationship, offer up a five level of trust. This trust, with time, can grow deeper if we want it to. It can only be taken away if someone in whom you place it doesn’t meet your expectations of what you think someone at their trust level should be doing.

This is the logical, and normal, way that relationships should work. It isn’t, however, how my relationships work.

For me, because of my past hurt, everyone starts out at about a 2 or a 3. (I’m saying this, knowing that it’s something that’s broken in me.) It takes quite a bit of time for me to trust someone. Not to mention what it would require for me to completely trust them. For me, trust is an arduous process; one that I have to work at.

But, for some reason, I think it shouldn’t be that way with God. For some reason, I‘ve always operated under the broken philosophy that trust with God should be immediately and completely given. As a result of this, whenever I’ve had trouble trusting God; putting my “faith” in Him as church talk would say, I’ve beaten myself up. “How could I be so immature?” Or the more recent, “How could a pastor have trouble trusting God?” These are questions that have lived in my mind for years. Add to this my propensity for comparing myself to my colleagues and you have a killer recipe for guilt.

Why would I think that trust in people should be doled out over time, but trust in God should be given 100% up front? This is what was bumping around inside my brain when I talked to Bethany.

As we sat in the worship center after one of our Friday night services, we discussed our upcoming Middle School Christmas Dinner. So far, we’d only had ten students sign up and we were a week away. I told her that unless we doubled in sign-ups that Sunday, I was going to cancel the event. Bethany told me that she didn’t think that we were going to get ten more sign-ups. She thought we were going to get twenty. “Wow”, I said. “I wish that I had the gift of faith that you have.” That’s when everything that I had been thinking about for the past couple of weeks snapped back into play.

A little while ago, I had my staff take a spiritual gifts test. The interesting thing about taking one of these tests is that you’re tempted to take it so that you end up with the gifts that you want, rather than being honest and seeing which gifts you actually have. I was surprised at some of the results of my copy of the test. However, it wasn’t until my conversation with Bethany that I began to think about what I wasn’t gifted with.

A new question rang through my mind. Is it necessary for a pastor to have the gift of faith? And, if so, could you pray to receive a spiritual gift that you hadn’t been given?

You see; this is where my search had led. This is the punch line. What is faith but trusting God?

I realized that I don’t trust God completely. Don’t get me wrong, I trust God sometimes, just not all of the time. I think it’s because I’m afraid that God is going to let me down like my dad did. But that’s not God. The strange thing about it is that, even though He didn’t have to, God has proven himself to me time and time again. And yet, I’m still afraid to let go of all of my chips and actually trust that God will see me through.

Donald Miller says that we serve a relational God. Our God is deeply longing to walk with us as a partner in our lives. I’m not sure if my understanding of relationship should change when concerning God or people. But I am sure of this: I’m tired of holding back. I’m tired of a kind of cautious, cynical faith that will give God a little expecting Him to show a return before trusting Him with a lot. That’s a backwards faith. And I’m tired of it.

Lord, I’m ready to go all in. But I do declare that I’m scared. Help me to have the strength to trust you with all that I have. Help me have a brand new kind of faith, a kind that gives you everything, even when I don’t think I can. Help me to lean on your strength. Help me to leave my destiny in Your hands…

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