Our Big Problem with God

3:58 PMHeather

I'm learning the hard way that I have a big problem with God.  A problem of epic proportions.  A problem that is so huge, I can no longer ignore it.  

My big problem with God is that I don't see how big he is.  The problem isn't that he isn't coming through for me on some repeated prayers or big issues.  The problem is that I have made my problems so big that I have shrunk God down in size.  

This is the word picture that comes to mind.


That's my little fingers...acting like that Kung Fu Panda balloon at the parade is so tiny that I can squish it.

When in reality, it's enormous.

But from my perspective, I don't perceive it's size correctly.  So I can pretend that it's so little, I am bigger than it.

And that, my bloggy friends, is what I am coming to see is an epidemic in our world.  It's the core root of multiple problems in my life.  It's running rampant in the church, as well.  You see it all over social media. I hear it in conversations with even my strongest of faith filled friends. I hear it in my own reply to those who ask for prayer.

I ask.  I pray.  But I'm praying as if I have pinched God down in size and I don't grasp his big he truly is. 

Why?  Because that's exactly what I'm doing.  Somehow along the way, perhaps by familiarity or a variety of other reasons, I have lost the awe and awareness of how big God is.

The problem isn't that God is not big enough.  It's that I have enlarged my problems, I have enlarged the role of people and their approval, and I have enlarged my circumstances.  And in so doing, I have pinched God down to shrink him until he fits between my fingers.

My finite mind cannot grasp an infinite God.  

So I allow doubt and my own opinions of reality and reason to do a big job of making God tiny.  Instead of giving weight and credence to his omniscience and majesty and absolute power and control, I have given it away to those things that I can see and touch and feel.

Here's what happens next.  Here's a true sign that you might have a big problem with God, too.  

You pray and ask for prayers, as if they are last ditch efforts or hopeful wishes well beyond anyone's ability.  As if you "hope" and "wish" that such-and-such might happen...but you don't really believe it will.  As in, I wish I landed a book deal tomorrow with some major publisher and my childhood dreams of being an author came true.

Possible.  But not likely.

Or, I wish my loved one wasn't sick or struggling, but it just seems to be their lot in life.  

If only God could fix that.  

We measure God by our expectations.  We press him into our tiny boxes, with doubt and unbelief and past disappointments as our tools to do so.  

We stand quaking in our boots like the Israelite army as we hear the voice of the giants in our lives, taunting us with their plans to conquer us...to squish us like a bug.  And our prayers are fueled by our own efforts to say them loud enough or with the right words or in just the right way to convince God to help us.  If only we could get him to do what we ask.  

And as my pastor says, we approach God like a vending machine. If I put my prayer in here, then I want to get something out of it there.  Okay, God, I'd like to select A6.  Cha-ching.  Prayer said.  

Nothing.  

So we insert our coins again.  Maybe give the old machine a whack or a shake because we are just not getting what we are expecting. We aren't getting what we wanted.  Therefore, the machine must be broken.

Instead of realizing that WE are the ones broken.  We are the ones wrong in our approach.  

David was no bigger than those Israelite soldiers.  In fact, he was much smaller.  He, in and of himself, had no incredible skill or talent to wield against the mocking Goliath.  

The difference for David was not that the giant was smaller or that his own skills were so much greater.  The difference was in his perspective.

He wasn't standing far off from God, pinching him within his tiny fingers.  

He was standing right next to God, very close to him.  And he thus was quite aware of who God is and how big his God is.  He had seen his God equip him to win a battle or two against a bear or lion while tending his sheep.  He knew, from experience and intimacy with God, that his God was bigger.  

He saw Goliath as large as anyone else did.

But he saw his God like no one else did.

So who are we?  Are we the ones pinching God down within our own human perspective?  Or are we the ones to stand so close to him that we learn to believe him for who he is?  We learn to see him for as big as he is.  We grow our faith by constantly staying near our God and then, we don't approach him like a vending machine.

Instead, we approach him with a proper fear and awe.  

Because we've learned not to fear the circumstance or the person or the reality in our paths.  We've learned to fear the God of the Universe.  We've gained proper perspective on how big God is. We've fueled our prayer life and spent time in his word so that we can think the truest things about God.

The things that allow our minds to expand in faith.  Expand in belief.  Expand in proper fear of the Lord.  And then the boxes are ripped apart.  And the enormity of our God becomes matchless in regard to any small or big thing we face.

We train our minds to ponder and meditate on these types of truths about our God.

This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, the God who summons horses and chariots and armies--they lie down and then can't get up; they're snuffed out like so many candles.
Isaiah 43:16-17 (The Message)

We knock our doubts and fears off the throne and instead place God there.  Turning our eyes from the things that overwhelm us to the God who rules over all.  We discipline ourselves to keep a proper perspective, continually learning to grow our ideas about God and shrink all else.

To be mindful of the big God we serve.  The one who spoke all things into existence is the one who can throw open new opportunities for you.  The one who drowned out the evil with a flood can pour out mercy and healing and grace on your problems. The one who parted the seas to make a way of escape will surely provide an exit for your plight.  The one who defeated an enemy army of thousands through a band of doubting Israelites with a jar and a light and a horn will surely equip you to overcome.  The one who sustained his wandering people in a desert for forty years will care for your needs of today.

We all have spiritual amnesia.  We forget how big and great and mighty our God is.  And we are thus laid low by our circumstances that seem so huge.

Our big problem with God is not that our God isn't big enough to intersect our lives and reach in and turn things around and calm the storms and make a way and take care of us and bring us to freedom.

Our big problem with God is that we pray to him with words like, "if you could just...." As in only do this thing.... Or, we pray to him making demands and giving suggestions.  Instead of believing him big enough to know how to figure it out.  We ask others to pray, with a bit of timidity in the request.  As in, it wouldn't hurt to try. Instead of a true faith and boldness that God is moved by our approach to him and he has it all figured out.   

Oh, yes, I am seeing myself for how I really am.  I am the girl who is pinching God down in size because I'm standing too far back.  I need to draw closer.  I need to push through the crowds and know that with a mere touch of the edge of his cloak, Jesus can fix what on one else has been able to fix.  

I read Luke 8:40-56 this morning, and I was so struck by the story of the women who had bled for twelve years.

For twelve years, she had bled out.  And the Scripture tells us that no one could fix it.  But yet she chose to believe that if she could just encounter the slightest touch of Jesus than his power could change things.

And it did.  

So I asked myself.  Where am I bleeding out in life?  Where am I feeling as if I am being drained and no one can fix it?  How much faith do I have in just a touch of Jesus?  Do I see him for the Powerful Almighty One that he is?  Confident in his touch, that the littlest encounter with a mighty God can fix what no one else can? Or does my unbelief think I need more, and I therefore approach him in prayers with a pleading, desperate and doubtful tone?

Because the truth of this story in Luke tells us this.  The slightest touch of Jesus can change my life.  It can cure what ails me. My Jesus can fix what no one else can.

He proved that on a cross two thousand years ago.

He proved it again with an empty tomb.  

Not even death can hold my Jesus back.

Yet, my own doubt holds me back.

If I could see God for who he really is, then I would know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has got whatever bothers me.  God is weaving a beautiful tapestry with every bit of my experiences and struggles.  He is writing a wonderful book, day after day, adding new chapters and plot lines.  And the ending is sure.  The ending is secure.  The ending is victorious and beyond a happy ever after.

If I believed God for who he really is and if I believed every word in the Bible, then I would be in awe of the truths about him.  I would approach him with a reverance and a holy fear and a humility and a surrender.  Instead of entitlement and demands to do things my way, as if what I have figured out is as good as it gets.  

If I believed God is as big as he really is, then I would hold fast to that truth that nothing is bigger than him.  And when frustrations and struggles came my way, I'd be able to tell them who's boss.  

Just like David told Goliath.  

What have I to fear?  The God of the Israelites is on my side.  And then, I wouldn't flee in fear and shake in despair.  

I'd instead pin all my hopes rightly so on the God capable of conquering the biggest foe. 

At whatever I'm up against, I'd shout out like David, "You come against me with sword and spear and javalin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands!" (1 Samuel 17:45-46)

Oh yes, I have a big problem with God.  And it's all on my end. This is a startling realization.  But I'm afraid I've allowed my years in the church and my familiarity with Scripture to make me callous to the absolute awe I should have for my God.

I've taken him for granted. Thus shrinking him down.

Nothing drives this point home like the epiphany I had during worship yesterday while singing The Great I Am.  The lyrics say that the demons have to run and flee...at the mention of the name King of Majesty, there is no power in hell or any who can stand before the power and the presence of the Great I am.

BOOM!

Last week, I blogged about Luke 8 and the story of the demon possessed man.

The man fell at Jesus' feet on first sight of him.  The demons within him screamed out, "What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God?"

If the enemies of God fall at his feet and cannot stand against him, then who are we, as followers of Jesus, to not do likewise? Who are we to not be in awe and surrendered to his mighty plans for our lives?  Who are we to approach him with a doubtful and repetitious plea to give us our desired results?  Instead of falling at his feet, in awe and trembling at the magnitude and majesty of his identity and saying, "Lord, what do you want with me?"

No matter what we face, God has a plan.  No matter what lays us low with defeat and trembling and anger and fear, God is bigger. No matter who opposes us or what comes against us, God is the victor.  He is the Alpha and Omega.  The Beginning and the End. Omniscient.  Omnipotent.  Almighty.  Sovereign.  Loving. Faithful. And True.

And we can indeed trust him with our lives.  

So here I am. Accutely aware of my own doubts and unbelief that have shrunk God in my view.  Of my own demands and choice to fear the approval of man and my own insecurities more than I fear God.  I have made people big.  I have made circumstances big.  I have fed my fears instead of my faith.

And it's time to stop.  It's time to grow my faith and my understanding and perspective of him.  And know that He delights when I do so.  I am learning to ask him to help me fear him properly and see things from his perspective.  Well aware of the greatness of the God who has a plan for my future.

And continually learning how small I am and how much I can trust him.

So grow big in my life, Lord Jesus!  Shrink my doubts.  Empower me with your Spirit.

The God who measures oceans within his hands.

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