I, like many parents, have learned so much from my kids about who God is, and perhaps more specifically, who we are to Him and how He views us. This morning, on our way to church, I got an unexpected lesson on trust, mistrust, questioning God, and debatable interpretation. Yep, all of that in two minutes. Kids are handy for that — the Spirit: irreplaceable.
We were discussing the issue of what paint to use on the birdhouses we were constructing. Washable paint was out; watercolors, no. “How about the paint in the closet?” someone suggested.
Four quarts of oil-based paint have been sitting in one of our closets since we moved in. “Yeah,” I said. “Those might be okay, but there’s only brown and tan.”
Instantly, a debate broke out. “Aren’t there six cans?” “No, there are four.” “There must be more than two colors if there are more than two cans of paint.”
It got very loud very quick, to the point that I couldn’t even answer there overlapping questions through all the noise (even though, I had really already answered their questions before they had asked. “There are two colors: brown and tan.”).
Admittedly, I got frustrated. “There are four cans! Two have brown paint! Two have tan paint! That’s what I said! That’s what I meant! Why can’t you just take my word for it!?!”
It wasn’t a huge explosion, and it blew over pretty quickly, but here’s the root of my frustration: I really wanted them to trust me, even though it didn’t quite make sense to them. Two of them can’t read the label. The other one hadn’t bothered. I had. Why couldn’t they just trust me? Instead, they disbelieved me and argued amongst themselves — all for nothing.
First, let me say that God’s patience with us is far greater than mine with my kids. Which is good, because we can be sooo childish sometimes — and in the very same way. There are things God has said that we don’t fully understand; things He’s done that don’t make sense. It can cause us to not trust Him. It can cause us to argue with one another about what He meant. I, myself, love to dive into issues of premil, postmil, amil, pretrib, posttrib. I wrestle with questions about hardening Pharaoh’s heart, the slaughter of the Canaanites, and why Balaam was judged harshly even though he refused to curse Israel. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with questions. The danger lies in how we act in those debates, and where we take our questions.
So, here’s the twist. Because if you think I’m about to say, “Trust Him explicitly regardless of what you do or do not understand,” that’s not so. I say ask. Don’t ask your heart. Don’t ask your mind. Ask Him. Seek His answers. Knock until He opens. I promise He won’t get frustrated. Perhaps in His heart He will say, “I know this is complicated, but I wish they would just trust me.” But He will never say, “Just shut up and take my word for it!”
Having said that, if you can bring your questions to Him with trust in your heart, it will make it easier. Just sayin’. Because here’s the thing: Even with 66 books in our bible, “we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.” (1 Cor. 13:12)
The book of Proverbs exhorts us to seek understanding diligently, like a treasure to be highly valued. I believe that the pinnacle of understanding…is understanding that you don’t have to understand. I know…that’s explicit trust, and it’s just my opinion, but it does help soften the blows.
Nevertheless, questions are great. They’re how we dive below the surface with God. Ask questions. If you don’t have any questions, find some. Trust me; they’re there. I’ve found stuff that made me literally throw my bible across the room.
Sometimes doubts, misunderstandings, distrust come because we can’t read (understand) the label (the bible). Or perhaps we know how, but haven’t taken the time go into the closet and take some inventory. Take that time. Learn to read. Ask those questions. Seek those answers.
I pray that God will bless you with many more difficult encounters with Him and the complex magnitude of who He is. It’s outlandish. It’s unpredictable. I can even be infuriating. But it’s so worth it. He’s worth it.