One month ago, I entered a voting booth and closed the curtain behind me to cast my vote for the next president of our country. I took my pen, found the name I was looking for and colored in a little circle. My single vote was cast in the privacy of that booth. As I placed my ballot face down in the ballot counting machine, I trusted that my choice would be recorded.
Our heart is like that voting booth: Every day, we have choices about what we believe and who we put our trust in. Back in the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam and Eve a choice. He put a tree in the garden that was forbidden. Some may ask, “Why would God put that tree there if He knew that Adam and Eve’s free will would cause Humanity’s train wreck?”
The answer is simple: Without choice, there is no relationship. If my husband was hardwired to love me and do everything I wanted and needed like a robot, I wouldn’t feel loved and cherished. (I can hear some women saying, Are you kidding?? That sounds a–mazing!) My husband loves me and serves me out of his free will and because he chooses to, I am deeply blessed by his love. He could choose to put himself first. He could choose to put his needs first. He could choose to put his ambitions and hobbies first. But he consistently shows me by his words and actions that he puts me first, to the best of his ability. And as a result, I feel deeply loved and cherished. Why would God the Father be any different? He doesn’t want robots; He wants children. So there must always be a choice – a vote.
Let me unpack this for you. In my life, I am often faced with challenges that look bleak. In my journey with Jesus, I have come to realize that those challenges are opportunities for me to vote for the One I place my trust in. I can go into the Secret Place of God’s presence in prayer, close the curtain behind me and cast my vote for the Truth.
Let’s say I am looking at a challenge with one of my children. Let’s say that I am concerned about the choices that they are making in their lives or about circumstances that they are facing from which I am helpless to rescue them. I can either allow fear and anxiety to overwhelm me or I can make the choice to entrust my child once again into the care and correction of my Heavenly Father. I can look at the current state of affairs and become overwhelmed by panic or I can look into the promises contained in God’s Word and “vote” for that. The privacy of my inner thought life is like the voting booth. Everything is decided in the seclusion of my mind. And every time I allow thoughts to determine my feelings or actions, I have put the pen to paper and cast my vote.
God is blessed when we see the circumstances, we feel the fear, we are aware of the negative possible outcomes, yet we still come to Him in the inner place of our heart and choose to believe in Who He is, what He says He is going to do in our lives, and who He says we are to him.
Circumstances – especially the dreadful kind – tempt us to vote against God. We cry out to the heavens: Where are You? Why aren’t you doing something about this? Why are You taking so long to answer my prayers? Why did You let this happen?
All of those unanswerable questions seem to demand an answer. But when we cast our ‘vote’ for the Truth and place all of our trust in the man Jesus Christ to be our Savior and Protector in the face of diabolical opposition to that belief and trust, we have entered into the love for our Father that He commends.
Hebrews 11 (Phillips)
1-3 Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see. It was this kind of faith that won their reputation for the saints of old. And it is after all only by faith that our minds accept as fact that the whole scheme of time and space was created by God’s command—that the world which we can see has come into being through principles which are invisible.
11-12 It was by faith that even Sarah gained the physical vitality to become a mother despite her great age, and she gave birth to a child when far beyond the normal years of child-bearing. She could do this because she believed that the one who had given the promise was utterly trustworthy.
It may be years – it may be decades – before we see how God used a seemingly unanswered prayer in a certain way. But I can guarantee you that if you continue to keep your trust in Jesus, keep choosing to believe in the goodness of God and in His faithfulness, you will come through this. You will see his goodness. You will experience His faithfulness.
Hebrews 11:6: And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
And we must always remember that sometimes, the work that God is doing in the circumstance is about His relationship with us rather than giving us the answer we think we need. That’s not an easy pill to swallow, because many of us would be quite content having a God that was more like a vending machine than a holy, omniscient God Who rules all things. We would like a buddy who agrees with us all the time. We would like a Santa Claus who, even though we were bad this year, still gives us everything on our prayer list.
I have been through some horrifying pain in my life and I know others who have been through worse. And those of us who did not let go of God even when we were angry with Him or were teetering on the brink of losing hope, are thriving in relationship. I know more about God’s patience today because of the times that my circumstances brought a sinful response out of me. When I came face-to-face with my inner brat yet still found God loving me and leading me out of immature selfishness, I realized an acceptance that I couldn’t have known if my life was one big Easy Button.
So what do you do when every emotion and every brain cell are railing against the goodness of God? How do you handle your doubt and unbelief? Have you excommunicated yourself from God’s forgiveness? Have you crossed the line when your words and actions have voted God out of office?
No. You can always return. Return with humility and gut-level honesty. Don’t play games and try to put a spin on your sin. Your doubt and unbelief most likely came out of the fact that you didn’t get what you wanted or thought you needed. It is coming out of your pain. Tell God all of the truth. Don’t hold back your thoughts, concerns, anger, fear and hopelessness. And then ask the Lord to heal you and restore you. He knows how broken you are. He knows what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask the Lord to draw you close and strengthen you in this trial. Your relationship with Jesus is going to a deeper level and you are going to see a side of the Father’s love and care that you would not have known any other way.
Dear Lord Jesus, you know what it’s like to us. You took on human flesh and came into the world with all of the limitations that we experience. Therefore, you have compassion on our weakness and you understand our frailties. Please, Lord, come to us now as the Good Shepherd Who leaves the 99 sheep that are content in the field to find the wandering, bleating sheep in the bush. We’re caught in a circumstance that we can’t control. We feel stuck in this trap of hopelessness and fear. Please come to us and rescue every part of us. Give us the awareness of Your closeness and tender care while You are doing a work in us. We need to know You and to see You in this challenge. You are faithful and you cannot fail. Give us a fresh grace to choose You and trust in Your goodness and love. Amen.
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