Picture yourself sitting in one of those desks on Art's show and he asked the same question of you. What would you answer? What does God look like to you? How do we begin to answer that question? Does the way you live your life match what you say God looks like? Craig Groeschel's book, The Christian Athiest, addresses the fact that a lot of us have correct answers about God, but live as though those answers aren't really what we believe.
Don't you think we all fall into that category to some degree or another. I can preach a heck of a sermon on faith, but the truth is I am struggling with believing God is ever going to get me out of this financial downward spiral I have been experiencing. I can teach about God's faithfulness in response to a "cheerful giver", but wonder if God sees my giving, because I see such little return. Life has a way of keeping tension between belief and experience. Which is the most important? Does experience trump doctrine or belief? That is a good, honest question.
Let me give one word of caution about something that causes us to shift from trusting what we believe about God to defining Him by our personal experience. We must remember that God's timing is not our timing. We have a tendency to draw a "time line" in the sand and say, "if God doesn't answer by such and such a time, then we assume He is not going to answer. We then chock one up to the unfaithfulness of God and our belief in God drops a notch or two. That is almost like giving God an ultimatum. "You answer by then or we are going to write you off." We may not say that, but in our mind His reputation is certainly tarnished. Two of three things develop out of this kind of approach; putting a time line on God's answers.
- There is a tendency for that time line to shrink with each different circumstance, until we develop a vending machine mentality. I inserted the prayer, where's my answer?
- We develop a demanding attitude toward God, as though He owes us, after all, He is lucky to have us as believers. This destroys any intimacy we have developed with God and causes us to view Him as our supply only.
- Instead of looking for the answers to come, we start looking for the deadline to come so we can say, "I knew He would come through for me!" Time lines foster doubt instead of building faith.
- We simply become impatient with God, with faith and hope.
This is a tough journey we are on. We must have a firm belief in an unchanging God that is not subject to our time frame. Let's help each keep things in perspective. Let's JOIN THE JOURNEY together.