“I can’t trust God right now.” — a 7-year-old I know
How many times have I wanted to say this? How many times have I even thought it but was too afraid to speak it?
I am reading A Praying Life by Paul Miller in which he encourages his readers to pray like little children, blurting out whatever’s on their minds—unpolished and unvarnished. There’s no double-speak like the Pharisees. God would rather hear from me, “I can’t trust You right now” than “Lord, I am trusting You” when it’s really not true. Of course, it’s always good to follow up “I can’t trust You right now; help me to trust You” like the man prayed in Mark 9:24 “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”
I am in a time in my life where things aren’t exactly how I planned them. I planned:
- To be married at 25
- Have kids at 30
- Have a thriving career in the newspaper/magazine industry
I got married at 23, almost 30 without kids, and ZERO career in the industry of choice.
The career thing often bothers me most, in some ways, more so than dealing with infertility. There should be a support group for people mourning the careers they never had or could’ve had.
My career is on the fringe as a proofreader for an ad agency and a manuscript editor. Yes, I get to do more than some people do, but at the same time, the income is unsteady. There are many fits and starts. I don’t know if and when the next job will come through. I work at the library to support these goals, but I know God is telling me to be patient, to trust Him in these uncertain times. To trust that He will provide the next job if and when he does so. It’s a scary thing to know that if your husband dies, you may not be able to support yourself.
I can’t trust God right now. But I hope He will give me grace and strength to trust in Him anyway.
[This is part III of a multi-part series on Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins.]
“I show you this painting because, as surreal as it is, the fundamental story it tells about heaven—that it is somewhere else—is the story that many people know to be the Christian story.”
The painting above isn’t the black-and-white replica that Bell has in his book but it’s pretty close and retained the same ideas.
Bell’s point in Chapter 2 is to challenge the reader’s conceptions about heaven and all that they’ve heard or think (or know) to be true. He references the parable of the rich man who wants to know how to get eternal life. According to Bell:
“When the man asks about getting ‘eternal life,’ he isn’t asking about how to go to heaven when he dies. This wasn’t a concern for the man or Jesus. This is why Jesus doesn’t tell people how to ‘go to heaven.’ It wasn’t what Jesus came to do.
Heaven, for Jesus, was deeply connected with what he called ‘this age’ and ‘the age to come.'”
Bell’s references to “this age” and “the age to come” become foundational to Love Wins:
“We might call them ‘eras’ or ‘periods of time’:
this age—the one we’re living in—and the age to come.
Another way of saying ‘life in the age to come’ in Jesus’s day was to say ‘eternal life.’ In Hebrew the phrase is olam habah.
What must I do to inherit olam habah?
and the one to come,
the one after this one.”
Bell defines ‘age’ further:
“Now, the English word ‘age’ here is the word aion in New Testament Greek. Aion has multiple meanings… One meaning of aion refers to a period of time, as in ‘The spirit of the age’ or ‘They were gone for ages.’ When we use the word ‘age’ like this, we are referring less to a precise measurement of time, like an hour or a day or a year, and more to a period or era of time. This is crucial to our understanding of the word aion, because it doesn’t mean ‘forever’ as we think of forever. When we say ‘forever,’ what we are generally referring to is something that will go on, 365-day year, never ceasing in the endless unfolding of segmented, measurable units of time, like a clock that never stops ticking. That’s not this word. The first meaning of this word aion refers to a period of time with a beginning and an end.
So according to Jesus there is this age, this aion—
the one they, and we, are living in—
and then a coming age,
also called ‘the world to come’
or simply ‘eternal life.'”
When Bell has paragraphs that meaty, they beg to be explored. Read more…
[This is a multi-part series on Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins.]
Great script. Lots of confusion. And there’s never-ending speculation about how it ends.
I suppose I should warn readers that Love Wins isn’t my first experience with Rob Bell’s books. I read Velvet Elvis upon the recommendation of a friend and loved it so much that I bought my own copy. I hope to reread Velvet Elvis again next year, but I remember wanting to give it 5 stars because it was that good.
Love Wins… not so much. But not for the reasons you’d think or the ones that have been commonly cited.
- Does Bell deny the existence of hell? Eh, kind of, not really.
- Does Bell assert that Jesus is the only way to heaven? Well… yeah.
- Is Bell a universalist? Eh… yes and no. That’s a loaded question that requires explanation and is never explained quite clearly (to me anyway).
The reason I nearly loathe Love Wins and probably will never read it again is… are you ready for this? Read more…
Today’s struggle is an attempt to focus on God above all else. This is really a daily struggle but there are days in which God specifically asks, “Will you trust Me even though I’ve allowed you to be in a place of hurt?” On those days, it is difficult to swallow my anger and pride and say, “Yes, Lord, I will choose to trust You and believe that this current place of hurt is for my good and for Your glory even though I don’t understand why I’m here.”
Sometimes we ask things of God and He does not give them to us because we are bound by the illusion that we will be happier, more satisfied, or more fulfilled if we get what we seek. Then we dismiss God as cruel and unjust for holding out on us. Perhaps God wants us to come to a place where we can say, “I’d really like [xyz] and even though I’ve desired this for a long time and You haven’t said yes to this prayer, I will give you the preeminent place in my heart.”
This Lent, I am seeking to grow closer to God, to make Him first in all things. God is radical: He doesn’t want some parts of my life; He wants all of it. And I need to submit all parts of my life including my greatest desires. And then I must say “Your will be done” and follow God, wherever His path may lead.
You say you’ll give me eyes in the moon of blindness / A river in a time of dryness /A harbour in the tempest / All the promises we make / From the cradle to the grave / When all I need is you
~ U2, “All I Want Is You” ~
The past few days have been a bit strange. I’ve gotten the sense that even though I’ve tried to turn my back on God and walk away from Him, it’s like I’m in His hand and if I run to jump off the edge, He simply cups the other hand underneath to catch me when I fall so I’m still securely within His grasp.
Rinse and repeat.
I’ve been angry, indifferent, frustrated… a variety of emotions that have me “shaking my fist at God,” so to speak. I try to say, “Look, God, don’t want You, don’t need You, go away” as He’s patiently listening, letting me think I’m escaping for a bit when I suddenly realize that He’s still there, right behind me. In a sense, it’s frustrating.
But on the other hand, rather liberating.
Because as I struggle through this spiritual depression, He’s made it very clear to me that He’s still near. In this odd time of feeling faithless and reading the Bible on and off, I’ve got the oddest assurance of salvation through Jesus Christ. (Considering that assurance of salvation is something I struggle with, this is no small feat.)
My pastor, counselor, and friends have challenged me in my faith and through this struggle, for which I am very thankful. I am still stressed and overwhelmed, but am very much getting the sense that God is here—somewhere—with me.
Thanks to all who have prayed/are praying.