Thursday, August 15, 2013

God as Scrooge?

I'm taking an evening walk last month, trying to sort some things out in my mind, and I suddenly realize I've come to believe God is stingy.

I don't know when I started believing that. I never consciously chose to. Somehow it sneaked into my heart when I wasn't looking, like a stowaway. That's how lies operate.

Now, LIFE has certainly been stingy in several areas. My family grew up without much money. My parents did their best to budget, provided properly, came through pretty well on Christmas and birthdays, but there weren't a lot of big things besides that. I struggled making friends as a teen; I usually only had one or two at a time. I relied largely on my Air Force benefits for college, and it was just barely enough. Let's not even talk about the arena of girls.

These patterns haven't really changed in my adult life. I've often lived paycheck to paycheck, breaking that cycle only in the last two years. I'm still single. I've made many friends, but it's taken a long time, and it seems that no sooner do I make one then he gets hitched and/or moves away. I work at a job that severely minimizes the time I get with my spiritual family. And I've become notorious for car troubles.

This is not whining. God has given me a degree, a job, basic needs, and a great church family. I'm in the 1%. It could be much worse.

But the disappointments are still there, still registering somewhere in my heart. Life has been hard in the relational areas. And I know God is in control of that life. What does one make of this?

That one evening, it seemed to come together to this: "God, it feels like I've had to scratch and claw and beg for every blessing you've ever given me."

I stopped walking.

Whoa. NOT a good thing to believe. Portraying God as miserly and reluctant?

It may be the message life sends sometimes, sure. But it doesn't fly. There are many possible explanations in the Bible for our troubles; it's not as simple as A leads to B leads to C. We can't decode the heart of God by examining how life has treated us. That will rarely line up with the Bible's authoritative teaching.

So I choose the truth. Out loud. Again.
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace, that he lavished on us." Ephesians 1:7-8a
"You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance." Psalm 65:9-12
"“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" Matthew 7:9-11
"They all ate and were satisfied." Matthew 14:20a, 15:37a
Riches. Lavished. Greatly. Full. Abundantly. Softening. Bounty. Overflow. Gifts. Satisfied. There's not in a word in there that paints God as a scrooge. And honestly, if all God had given us was salvation through Jesus, that alone would be far more generosity than we could ever repay.

I admit life is hard. There are theological questions everywhere about why some people's legitimate needs and heart's desires aren't met. I won't be the one to answer those questions. And I'm not using this to make a claim on what God will give me in this life. That's his alone to decide.

I simply know that there's no wiggle room in my heart for what I believe about God. Either he's fully generous as portrayed by the Bible, or he isn't. The amount of peace and power in my life will be decided by whether I stand on the truth. It's like a spiritual law. I no longer want the life of internal unrest and frustration.

Somehow, someway, despite life's frustrations, God is generous.

Just another Lie of the Week that needs annihilation.

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