Monday, July 11, 2011

Faith, Presumption, and God's Will

I've been hit more than a few times by the "Christian" idea that if I would just "step out in faith" God would do great things.  I'm sure there are areas of life where I need to do that, where I need to trust Him and let go of things.  In fact, I know there are some areas.  A few come to mind as I write this.

But a problem arises when this attitude goes a little overboard.  After all, does God promise me a good and happy life if I "step out in faith?"  Where specifically for in what specific ways?  In the ways I want?  How long will it take?  And what exactly do I need to "step out" with?  What things?  Which direction?  Most of the time this amounts to presumption: the idea that if I do something and "trust" God enough, He will give me something I want.

And of course, when we do step out a few times and things go well, we think we've got it down and God is in our corner.  But when we "step out" and the doting hand of God is silent and stone-cold, suddenly it's like God has abandoned us.  Where are you, God?  Why don't you care?

Similar to this is the idea that God will give us some kind of feeling or sign for making decisions.  I'm sure God does and I know He certainly can, but should we expect it?  I know I've prayed and prayed and begged and pleaded for an "answer" or for "direction," and yet I got no secret whisper in my ear, no churn in my stomach, no fuzzy warmth or voice in my head.  Did God abandon me, or is it more likely that God does not want me to use Him as a crutch to avoid taking responsibility for my life and making decisions?  The older I get, the more I believe it is the latter.

Some think that living by faith and trying to follow God's will means that we look for special signs from God and wait for a "word" from Him.  But isn't being merely human and living by faith precisely summarized by the fact that it is God who orders our lives, and He has given us some instruction in His Word and many promises, but that ultimately we must walk in the dark, in some sense, and make our own decisions the best we can, trusting in Him for all the results?  I think so.  Needing to know all the results up front isn't faith -it is more like needing to be god.

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