Wednesday, May 16, 2007

A Question of Trust

Can I believe God loves me and not trust Him to take care of me?

The question came as I was wrestling with whether to trust God with something important. I say I believe God loves me. I say I believe He has my best interest in mind. Yet somehow, I'm uncertain. Like a kid who is told to eat his broccoli because it's good for him, I think, yeah but it can't taste as good as cake.

Sometimes it's easy to trust God, but in other times I'm just not quite sure. I grew up afraid I would end up marrying an ugly woman. Somehow I got it into my mind that marrying a pretty woman was like eating cake instead of broccoli. That there could be a pretty woman that was also on God's approved list was unthinkable. After all, to want to marry a pretty woman is selfish. For years I wrestled, afraid to persue what I wanted and afraid to end up with what God wanted.

So we come back to the question. Can I believe God loves me and not trust Him to take care of me? Does a God who wants my best interest desire to stick me with a wife I don't want? Somehow this doesn't add up to me.

"When your son asks you for fish or for bread, do you give him a snake or a stone?" Jesus asks. "If sinful people know how to give good gifts to their children, wouldn't God who is perfect give good gifts to His children when they ask?" (See Matthew 7:9-11).

Later Paul asks, "If God was willing to give His own son to die for us, why would He refuse to give us a good gift of lesser cost?" (See Romans 8:32)

The only way I can believe God loves me and not trust Him to take care of me is to believe He's too weak to take care of me. An all powerful god who doesn't have my best interest in mind clearly does not love me. Can I look at the sacrifice of Jesus and believe God doesn't love me passionately? That He isn't willing to spare any cost to get me back?

Does God love me? Do I trust Him?

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

What Is Love?

I wanted to write something very profound about love. I wanted to write something about love that would make people rethink what they've been told about love. But, as I sit here and pontificate, I find I'm just frustrated by the subject. I mean, what does it mean to love? Really love? In the movies, I see two people who fall madly in love with each other and wonder why that never happens to me. The guy, of whom I am insanely jealous, and a gorgeous woman are drawn to each other to live happily ever after. Sure, they have some troubles along the way. The guy says something stupid, or he thinks he sees her going for someone else. But in the end, it's usually a misunderstanding that gets cleared up and the rest is smooth sailing.

Maybe love is like the Force from Star Wars. It's something you're born with. You don't get to choose whether you get it or not, it chooses you. Once you discover you have it, the world obeys your every command. If you didn't get it, then you're sorry, out-of-luck.

Maybe love is like money. If you're smart, you find ways to earn it and save it. Some people are naturals, but those who aren't can learn. If you work hard enough, you'll make it. With exception to those who just don't get it, or who are completely irresponsible and just throw it away.

What if love isn't romantic? That's often how I think of it. Does that mean there are different kinds of love? Or is romance something I have with a person I love? As a romantic, the very thought of romance being something I choose feels sacrilegious. Romance is supposed to be mysterious. Two people who are connecting with each other with an intimate unspoken language. If I choose it, I've robbed it of its magic.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye asks his wife, "Do you love me?"

"Do I love you?"

"Do you love me?" he asks again. She goes on to list all of the things she does for him. Cooking dinner, washing clothes, cleaned house, raising children and milked cows. "But do you love me?" he asks.

She searches her heart to find she does love him. And he loves her.

What if love isn't an emotion, even though I have feelings about people I love? What if love is shown more in how we choose to treat each other, what we do for each other than in the words we use? What if real love costs more than money? What if real love costs part of the soul? What if the ultimate cost of love is one's life?

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Who Am I?

Sometimes I think there are two people living in this body. One is positive thinking, ready to take on the world. The other is scared, always hiding where it's safe. I like positive Phil. He's fun to be around, people respect him and he makes a difference. Scared Phil, on the other hand, I loathe. He believes he has failed even before he tries. He believes people tolerate him. I want positive Phil to live and scared Phil to die.

So why does scared Phil keep showing up? How do I get rid of him, permanently? It's like he's handcuffed to me and I'm stuck with him until one of us has served his time. Why is positive Phil missing when I need him most? He comes, visits, then goes back to where ever he came from.

When I was a kid, I wanted my own section of the garden. Dad gave me a row and I planted what I wanted in my row. Tomatoes, bell peppers and corn. Having my own row in the garden meant I was responsible for the care of that row. I'd come home from school, go out to the garden and water my row. Every day I hoped to see one of the plants poking up out of the ground. Four or five days had passed, I had watered them as I was taught and still, there wasn't a sprout to be seen. I grew frustrated. This garden wasn't fun anymore. It was work. It wasn't long until I was giving my bike the attention my garden needed. My plants didn't grow well. They didn't produce much and what they did produce wasn't very good. I had a good crop of weeds, though. I wanted to have a good garden, but wanting didn't get me a good garden.

What if the two Phils are like my garden? What am I doing to nurture positive Phil? Or have I grown impatient because I haven't seen results after a couple of days? One thing's for sure, scared Phil grows, even when I'm not trying to grow him. Growing positive Phil is hard work. I want positive Phil to grow, but just wanting won't make it happen.