Monthly Archives: December 2016

On Faith

I watched “The Santa Clause” over Christmas. At one point in the film, two people discussed when they stopped believing in Santa Claus. In both cases they did so because they didn’t receive the one gift they wanted most.

How often do people give up their faith in God, because he doesn’t give them the one thing they prayed for? I admit I’ve struggled at times, because God seemed cold and distant. I have railed against him when I felt I deserved something, but he refused to deliver.

Still do, even when I look back and realize his refusals were ultimately a good thing. I ask for selfish things. Shallow things, when what he wants is for me to grow in my faith, and to help others grow in theirs. Whether or not I can afford the latest computer technology doesn’t further his kingdom. Nor does he help me escape my guilt and the consequences for when I screw up.

As much as I want to run away from my responsibilities, he always tells me hold the course. And he’s always telling me to wait — to be patient. Ugh.

I can be as shallow and selfish as anyone. I beg God to allow me to be selfish, to live a shallow life. How easy it would be to treat God like Santa Claus. To in the end quit believing in him, because I don’t get what I want all the time.

Doing so weakens what little faith I already have.

To wallow in the times when God refused my desires, I ignore all the times when he delivered – extravagantly. The times of him showering his blessings on me far outweigh and outnumber the times when he shook his head and told me no.

I sometimes refuse to see his negative responses as a blessing. Take Christmas day 2016. We had planned on going to our aunt and uncle’s house sixty miles away. Dave, Tom and I all came down with a cold, so we decided not to go. Did God decide to make us miserable on a holiday, or did he have another reason?

The entire state of North Dakota was under a blizzard warning all day with – projected – over a foot of snowfall and 35-50mph winds (gusting up to 60mph). The highway department started closing the interstate and highways at 5:30pm. If we hadn’t come down with a cold, we would have either been on the road at that time, or ended up having to stay at our aunt’s house until the roads cleared. That alone could take a day or two. And that’s assuming we didn’t get into an accident either on our way there, or on our return home.

Oftentimes, our blessings and curses could simply be a matter of how we choose to look at them.

If we choose to look at God as our eternal Santa Claus, we will only find disappointment, and foment a desire to quit believing in him when he tells us no. If we choose to see him as our heavenly Father who has our best interest in mind, then when he refuses us – like when our earthly parents refused to give us everything we wanted – we can, and should, be grateful. To feel blessed in all circumstances, not only when everything goes the way we want and expect.

The Not So Big Blue Marble

earthriseThe single worst event to happen to our culture is showing the first picture of Earth from space.

I know what you’re thinking: “Huh? How can a single, awe-inspiring picture from space damage our culture? That picture shows the epitome of human determination, creativity, and risk-taking. It heralded countless technological advances that we now take for granted.”

All true, but as with everything, there is a down side.

When we see pictures of Earth taken by satellites and astronauts, on Google Earth and the map apps on our phones, our perspective of the size of our world has altered, irrevocably.

It’s not the vast, massive world that could never be tamed or disrespected. We instead see it as that little blue marble floating in a sea of sparkling black.

As such, we have elevated our own size, increasing our arrogance with the belief that because we can see any part of our planet with a click of the mouse, we can control it.

Yet we can’t predict the weather with more than a 30% accuracy from one day to the next. We’ll never stop a volcano from erupting, a tornado or hurricane, an earthquake or tsunami. Or as Tennessee sadly shows, we can’t stop all wildfires. We either have to get out of the way (if we have time) or pray that nature will intervene on itself.

We’ve lost our humility, and in some ways we think of ourselves as greater than or equal to God.

And part of that arrogance and self-delusion came from seeing a picture of our planet from space – making it appear thousands of times smaller than it really is.