OK To Struggle With God, But In God

OK To Struggle With God, But In God

It is not always easy being vulnerable about struggles with myself in relating to God and what He expects of me. I wish I was super spiritual. The thing is, growing up as a Christian there were times I was made to believe that the more you matured spiritually the less you struggled with stuff. That you were impervious to temptation and unChrist-like behavior.

I wish I knew earlier that it was OK, fine, to struggle with stuff. I’m not saying that it is fine to give into temptation but that temptation and other struggles of being a Christ follower don’t make you a “lesser” Christ follower. What determines whether you’re immature or not, is your response to temptation and struggles.

I’ve been liberated to know that it is fine to have struggles with God. I mean Jonah, for example, struggle with God’s plans for the people of Nineveh and went to Tarshish (Jonah 1:2-3). Maybe that’s not the best example, what about Paul, kind of the rock star Christian right, he struggled with God because of some thorn (Romans 7:21-24).

Wait, I think I have the best example. A man asked Jesus if He could heal his son. Jesus said the son could be healed if the father believed. Wow. That simple? Sometimes not. The man’s response was that he believed but still had some hang-ups. Some issues, you know challenges, believing.

Out came his confession, “I believe but help my unbelief” (Mark 9:23-24). Awesome. This man was upfront about what His struggle to believe and rely on Jesus completely. This is liberating, especially for the times I’ve felt and feel condemned by others for not believing or having “enough faith”.

“Enough faith?” What is that? Who has the measure for that? [Click to Tweet]

How absurd that we can be the ones to determine how “enough” other people’s faith is. Ludicrous! Profanity! How dare we tell people they don’t have enough faith. How dare I tell anyone that they faith is not “strong enough”. How can I condemn others like this?

Moving on. This man was real with Jesus and Jesus had no problem with that. It is when we’re smug and try to act like we got it all together we push God’s hand away (Luke 18:10-14).

The most important thing about having struggles, whatever they are, is where we turn to. Some have challenges with some of the ways things are done in the local Church and choose to stay away. Some don’t understand how they lives have played out the way they have that they shun and hate God.

It’s OK to struggle with God, but in God [Click to Tweet]

Grapple with whatever you’re grappling with as long as you take it to God. As long as you use it to seek God more about it. As long as you go back to God, like the man in desperate need, “I believe but help my unbelief”.

God I’ve used excuses about the things I don’t understand about You, about how my unmet expectations in life, to turn from you. I’ve turned from you while, on the outside, I’ve done things that “normal” Christ followers do. Help me to always turn to you when I struggle with you. Amen.

I Am Jonah, I believe but help my unbelief…

 

[Photo Credit: jot.punkt]

My Right To Fight Back

I went to some offices that the law requires me to visit. (No, it wasn’t the police. Sorry the story is not that juicy.)

As a Christian I must be law-abiding. Right? Because it’s right and Jesus said so. In my obedience to Jesus, and the law I went to submit my documents.

After waiting for half the day I made it to the counter. As if I didn’t have a difficult time already, the person who served me did everything right. Well almost…

She asked for all the right information and the documents. The only thing she didn’t do right, as far as I was concerned, was the way she asked me for anything.

pushing back

I felt patronized by the way she asked me anything. Disrespected. I had just about endured enough ‘harassment’ and started to contemplate looking for an audience with her supervisor.

By that I mean, I was thinking about how snarky and mean I could be.

I believe people deserve great service. This includes public offices, right?

Somehow, for a change, I took a minute to carefully think about my response. My emotions were raging. My exterior was cool.

My mind was racing with the thousand things I was going to yell at the supervisor. I was intent on talking at the supervisor and the lady giving me the bad rap.

Then I knew, though I felt justified in speaking against bad service, I wasn’t justified to be as mean as I was planning to be. Jesus teaches. No, challenges me to do.

Jesus challenges me to bless those who curse me. To be kind to people who are mean to me. Not to serve the treatment I’ve received back to those who give it to me.

I’m glad I didn’t lash out, as I wanted. While I was still having the internal debate and discussions, she started asking me about my profession.

One of the documents I was submitting had the name of the youth ministry I serve in. That sparked conversation. She asked how we reached young people and commended the work we did.

It turns out she was also a Christ follower. Which, was also a reminder… Christ followers can sometimes be out of character and be mean also. If I had exploded the way I felt like then I would’ve done what she was doing…

There I was, for a moment, caught up between what God wants of me and what my feelings wanted. This was a reminder of how rouge my feelings can be and what God wants. I remembered, I am Jonah.

Have you had similar experiences? What was your response?

[image by Steve Snodgrass | cc]

Making Sense Of… | Jonah Notes #01

Jonah notes is about highlighting anything noteworthy fitting into the I Am Jonah theme. This is the first (hopefully of many) of summaries of things worth noting.

The series will focus on things that we need to grapple with, in search for alignment with what God expects of me, of us, as Christ followers.

juniper tree

The Meaning Of Christian Community

This was a post by Joel J. Miller, author of Lifted by Angels. His post, “What does ‘Christian’ community mean?” raises the question of how we are to be part of the community of believers.

What is the place for our preferences in light of the community? He asks: “But what can community actually mean if the individual is ultimate?”

Check out his post here

The Perfect Way To Do Church

Related to Joel’s post, Carlos Whittaker says, “I found the secret… THE PERFECT WAY to do church…” Carlos is a worship leader and has served in a large Church and varied contexts.

Carlos raises a point, which I feel we need to attention to. He makes what I think is the ultimate and most important point but I won’t spoil it for you. Check out the post.

The Pig Prayer

The legend, Jon Acuff, author of Stuff Christians Like, asks, “I read the Bible and scoff in dismay at people who cared more about their pigs than the healing of two demon possessed men. “How could they be so blind?”

He closes his post, by stating how torn apart He is between what God wants and how he wrestles. Oh, and the title of his post? “The Pig Prayer“.

On I Am Jonah

The most shared post was “Why I Am Jonah” which introduced the blog, journal, whatever you want to call it. It gave a general “why” for this blog, explaining the rift that sometimes exists between God’s desire for us and hour desires.

Someone Else’s Skateboard” was a glimpse into the reality of temptation, which some Christians will not give.

Similar to themes of Carlos and Joel’s post, incidentally I wrote before I saw the posts was “The Church: Loving Her While Hating Her Practices“. The post touched on the challenge of separating what the Church from her practices.

Outro

It is comforting to see how real others are about their faith and things they’re grappling with. From understanding the true meaning of community and the church to trying to really follow God.

My prayer: God help me to be a part and be the Church as you’ve intended. Help me know what it means to die to myself for the sake of community when I need to. Give me more courage to hold on to your desire and love for others and not my preferences or desires. Amen.

[image by cogdogblog | cc]

Someone Else’s Skateboard

I recently travelled. I like travelling. If travelling by air my favorite parts of travel is taking off and landing. I don’t know why but they just feel ‘adventurous’. Ask no further questions…

When I’m away from where I live I’m also on the lookout for things that are different and unique to places. I collect weird signs. Sometimes I am that guy who watches people going about whatever they’re about.

At other times I’m that guy who smiles at you or greets you if he catches you staring at you. (I haven’t worked up the courage to offer hugs yet ;-).

Where was I? Oh, another thing I like about travelling is the airport. I like the feeling of going somewhere and the busy hum.

I like the luggage pickup, only if my luggage doesn’t take long to come out.

Something unusual happened on this trip.

skateboard

There it was, a skateboard. Now this is the heart of this post. Yes, a skateboard. Maybe not.

For one second I had the thought what if I picked it up? I don’t think anyone who checks in a skateboard that way really means to get it.

After all, the first skateboard I owned was a friend’s who shared it with all the kids on the blog. Did I pick it up? No.

What shocked me was that I was actually having that conversation with myself. And not only that, it was just downright wrong.

A reality: I was tempted. That is the truth. I entertained the thought of taking ownership, aka stealing, and someone else’s skateboard. I hope you read it right: I was tempted…

I know that God wants of me and I know what God would have me do in such instances but I was tempted. There is a part of me that sometimes whispers, “What about… What if…”.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire ~ James 1:14 (ESV)

I am tempted. I will not lie and claim that I am never tempted. I am tempted and sometimes more often and intense than I’d like.

I Am Jonah.