I’ve decided that it’s time for me to quit trying to figure God out.
Don’t misunderstand – I think it’s a very healthy part of Christian growth to ponder or meditate on the vast expanses of who God is. The deeper we get, the more we’ll realize just how shallow our understanding is. That’s valuable on many levels… (take humility as a good place to start)
But the direction I’m going is this… (and this is only one example of the varied directions my struggling little mind goes with this sort of thing…)
I have spent a lot of time pondering, for example, His grace. It’s unmerited favor, it’s lavished on me, it’s truly amazing (to borrow a song title). I know (in my head) that there is nothing I can do to earn it, because it wouldn’t be grace if I could. O.K., I get that – sort of. But…
Right alongside grace are the promises of scripture (that I’ve also spent time pondering). Promises that God blesses the righteous, He cares for His own, that He strongly supports those whose hearts are fully His. Those are motivating things to consider, so I work hard (in my own strength and in the strength of His Spirit – depends on the day) to be one of those kind of people. I don’t think there’s any wrong in that. It’s from a heart that truly desires to please and honor Him.
The problem comes when the blessing shows up. That’s when I begin to try to figure things out…
- Did God bless me because I’ve been faithful? If I cling to that idea – then it easily becomes about me and what I’m “doing for Him.” I can begin to feel like, “Of course I deserve this… afterall, I played by the rules, didn’t I?” I can see a Pharisee lurking around the corner on this one…
- Or did He bless me simply because He wanted to bless me (grace)? If I cling only to that idea – then I can lose my motivation to be the kind of person He clearly wants me to be. I start to figure that God’s gonna’ do what He wants to do anyway (it’s all about grace). I know, I know – a clear grasp of the grace of God CAN BE a very good motivator – a way to say “thanks.” We could all use a good “soaking” in that concept for a bit. But let’s talk about what is common for most of us, shall we? We humans, in our short-sightedness, most always need motivators a bit less ethereal than that.
So where do I go with all this? I have to admit, the blessing could come for either reason, at any given time. God is the one who has the prerogative to make that call… But… as I think on it a bit longer, something really glorious comes to the surface…
God is “all-everything” – follow me on this –
- Whatever God is – He is complete in it – no insufficiency exists in Him.
- If He is gracious (and He is) – then He is perfectly gracious.
- If He is a rewarder of those who seek Him (and He is) – then He is perfect in that too.
- Therefore the balance between the two (speaking from a human perspective) is no mystery to Him. It’s actually inherent in Him to operate perfectly in that place of balance.
And on it goes – no matter the apparently conflicting attributes you have in mind (justice VS mercy/love, holiness VS grace, etc.), His “all-everything” nature makes the outworking of our seeming conundrums happen perfectly, as He desires and intends.
Where does that leave me? It’s pretty simple – the truth is that He can be trusted…
After all, He is all-loving, all-wise, all-compassionate, all-just, all-righteous, all-knowing, all-present, all-fill-in-the-blank-with-your-own-favorite-attribute-of-God. Being ALL OF THAT, which is so foreign to our piddly human way of thinking, there is no doubt that He can be trusted…to do what is best… to do what is right… to do what is inherent in Him to do.
I can live with that. Actually, I can do more than live with it – I can rest in it. That’s a great place to be!