If you go to a church where the teaching is sound then you will know some great truths about God. You will be able to articulate something of his love, his mercy, his grace, his sovereignty and his immense kindness and provision towards humans in general and you in particular. And amen to that! What a privilege to know such amazing facts.
However, if you are like many other Christians, these facts don't always make it from your head to your heart. They certainly don't always make that 7 inch drop in my life...
Yes, the doctrine of God's sovereignty is exciting but when a job is lost, a relative dies, accidents happen, then a deep sense of life feeling out of control creeps in. And, if we're honest, it doesn't always need to be something that major to engender those feelings ... a bad day at work can do it. Or kids that just wont obey the curfew or do their homework.
It's easy to sing of God's love on a Sunday. But when human relationships fall apart, illness hits, stress piles up, money-worries bite, it's not always easy to feel loved. Or even to believe whole-heartedly that his love is real and unconditional ... It's hard to believe that God can actually accept us, the messy sinners that we are.
All too often we lack confidence in God's character and promises. And that has an impact on our behaviour. When we're unconvinced that God loves us unconditionally, we're much more likely to think that others are judging us and be concerned about their opinions. When we wonder if God has dropped the ball and let something outside of his plan happen to us we can feel anger towards him, which comes out as anger towards others. When we allow ourselves to think that we have to prove ourselves to God because he can't possibly accept us as we are, we become driven and overly concerned with the need to be right or to have others think well of us.
Of course, the flipside is true too. And I was struck, while reading Tim Chester's The Ordinary Hero earlier this week, what liberation is found in being utterly convinced of God's nature. In that book, Tim reminds us of 5 great facts (p42):
- If you're confident that God loves you, then you'll love other people
- If you're confident that God's accepted you, then you'll accept other people
- If you're confident that God died for you, then you'll lay down your life for other people
- If you're confident that God loved you while you were still his enemy, then you'll not complain when other people let you down
- If you're confident that God's gracious to you, then you'll be gracious to other people
Doesn't that sound great?
So this week, why not let your prayer and pursuit be this: Lord, please increase my confidence in you. And, little by little, we can look forward to enjoying the fruit of answered prayer.
This blog post was originally posted on The Good Book Blog on February 13th 2013.