I get nervous when I ask God for visible, tangible things.
I know I’m not supposed to feel this way, but I’m scared that if I ask for something fairly simple, and it doesn’t happen, then I will begin to doubt the existence of God.
I’m scared I will hear the mocking whisper that I hate more than any other sound in the world:
Honestly Fabs – which is more likely:
that there is an omnipotent, omnipresent God who controls all things and loves you more than anyone in the world and will withhold nothing good from you, but – gosh – to give you this one (really simple and tiny) thing, would be just not good and so He has to restrain Himself…
Or, is it maybe (just maybe) possible that there’s no one up there at all?
I’m terrified that unanswered prayers will translate to me as evidence that there is no God.
Because once upon a time, with an 8-year-old version of myself, that’s exactly what happened:
First, let me point out the obvious: I was a weird paranoid kid. And I couldn’t spell.
Second, let me translate that note: I thought I was going to die (probably because I’d discovered some sort of government secret or something). And before I died – I wanted to be sure there was a God. (pretty logical so far…)
The sign I needed from God wasn’t anything extravagant. I simply wanted Him to move Nosey Bear (my favorite stuffed animal) to a different location in my bedroom. Nothing big, nothing flashy.
To that little girl, it made sense that God would have the power & motive to move Nosey Bear. So, the options were clear: either God would perform my Nosey-Bear-Miracle, or God wasn’t real.
God didn’t move my Nosey Bear.
Now – almost 25 years later – I wrestle with the deep fear that maybe I am still that weird little girl – banking my reality on things as crazy as government conspiracies. All I want is a Nosey Bear miracle to remind me that this whole thing is not made up, but if I ask for one and it doesn’t happen what will happen to my faith? Will it crumble in the face of doubt?
But faith doesn’t come through levitating teddy bears.
It comes from hearing, and hearing comes from the Word of God.
I was reminded of that this morning as I read Ephesians.
Because the church of Ephesus had no shortage of spirits floating around who were happy to provide Nosey-Bear-Miracles. They dealt with a spiritual realm where they saw stuff like that go down every single day.
If that’s what you want out of a god – you can get it from any number of places. There are not shortage of powers and principalities and people who will work a Nosey-Bear-Miracle if that’s all it takes to secure your allegiance.
Guys – our problem is not that we expect too much out of our gods. We expect to little. We will worship anyone who can demonstrate any semblance of power or authority.
But moving Nosey Bear doesn’t make you worthy of worship.
Being God makes you worthy of worship.
The God we worship chose us before the foundation of the world (when, btw – He was the only one around, since every other spiritual and physical being had to be created by Him).
By His power, His people heard the word of His Gospel and believed.
By His power, He sealed us with His Spirit and continues to transform us to make us holy and blameless (without reducing us to action figures, maintaining soul and personality and heart.)
At the end of the day: I can pick Nosey Bear up and put him on my bed. But who – but God – can deliver people from death? Who – but God – can hold the hearts of men in His hand and turn them where He wills them to go?
God didn’t move my Nosey Bear, but He did make this atheist skeptic a minister of the Gospel.
God didn’t move my Nosey Bear, but He did call me back from darkness when I was done with Him and His church and this life.
God didn’t move my Nosey Bear, but whatever miracle He is working in me makes me cry with joy when I look at how crazy great He is.
God didn’t move my Nosey Bear, but He did raise Christ from the dead and place Him in the heavenly places, ”far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”