One thing I love about God is that He keeps blowing up the box I try to contain Him in.
Just in the last few months, He has challenged my idea of Him, tested my trust, and brought my faith to a new level.
I think my default picture of God as a Father is one who is loving and proud and caring but who is not always around. I believe in God’s power and I know He is capable of the impossible. But somehow, without even realizing it, I separate myself from that power and assume He would not actually do those things. So I believe that God could do anything, but apparently not that He necessarily would. It turns out this a very small container.
This default assumption of mine appears to be the root of many of my reactions. Especially the attitude I adopt when God asks me to do something. After the initial denial and tantrum, my reaction is usually: “Right. Well then, I will get on that” along with the fear of being alone in it. And fear of God’s disappoint when I fail. (Of course, all of this is ridiculous and ungrounded). It is like I assume, after the wonderful moment together when He gives me the task, He leaves to go do other important things, leaving me to the work He gave me to do. (Where do I get these ideas?)
A short while ago, God blessed my mom with a house. The old house had become a source of worry and God was challenging her to leave it behind. So, she had been planning to move and was working toward that goal, but financially and practically, it seemed impossible any time soon. I new God would work something out, but I never imagined it would be like this. He gave her a house. And it is all she needs and even ever wanted!
I was completely blown away by God’s goodness. How could it be that He would arrange it in this way? Of course, I knew He could do these things but never expected Him to! God blew up my box again. But in my heart, I expected a catch. I didn’t want to but I doubted the blessing and God’s goodness. And then, some time later, it seemed that the catch did come. I won’t get into details, but something came up that could have prevented my mom from moving into what had seemed earlier as an obvious blessing. And I was wrecked. It surprised me how wrecked I was. I thought I had a stronger trust in God than that. But as I was crying out to God, being honest with Him about how He felt cruel and unfair, He showed me a bit of understanding. I may trust Him with a my own life, but it is much harder to trust Him with the people I love most. I doubted His goodness. I believe that God’s love is far beyond my understanding. But somehow I overlooked that the same is true of His goodness. God’s goodness does not play by our rules of fairness or standards or entitlements. He is good because He wants to be good, not because He wants something in return. So then, why do I always think that way? God’s goodness doesn’t come with a catch. So I did my best to trust Him, even if the situation did not make sense. But then, God gave us another miracle. The problem dissolved and my mom could move in! And this time, the box was blown and a stronger foundation was unearthed.
Sometimes, things are just good.
And then, there is another layer to this.
A thought dropped on me while singing Good Good Father at church last week. You know how in John’s gospel he refers to himself as ‘the disciple Jesus loved’? It seems that people often joke about it since it seems like a prideful thing to say. And at the end of the gospel, he is like ‘oh yeah, and by the way, the disciple Jesus loved? That’s me.’
But what if it wasn’t pride? What if John’s identity was so wrapped up in this truth that he was the one loved by Jesus? What if this was his identity? So much so that his name really was a kind of ‘by the way’ sort of thing. So in that way, it isn’t pride at all. It seemed that John might have struggled with pride in his early years following Jesus, but he probably wrote the Gospel at the end of his life. And it is so consistent with how John writes about love in his letters!
I decided that I want to be this way. To be so grounded in the love of Jesus. The love of a good Father. I want to have my identity so wrapped up in being a ‘disciple Jesus loves’ and the ‘loved daughter of the Father’ that I forget my own name.