Sunday, February 20, 2011

not a magic trick

for the past few months, i've struggled with the idea that faith works like a magic trick.

it's a bit like being told when you were younger that jesus would come back at an hour nobody knew, which somehow got translated into that jesus wouldn't come back if anybody in the world was thinking of his return at any particular moment. it had to be when nobody was thinking about it -- then he'd return and surprise us.

if you're like me, you used that to your advantage at moments when you weren't ready for jesus to come back. you just thought you could think about it and, with that thought, control the whole course of redemptive history.

for me, i've tried to will our referral by similar magic. i've read countless referral stories where people said, "i wasn't even thinking about getting our referral today." and, in my mind, i've believed that God has been disappointed in me for thinking so often about our referral, as if my thinking about it was a way of distrusting him. so i've tried not to think about, hoping to appease him and thus convince him to give us our referral.

every time something discouraging has happened regarding our adoption, i've thought, "God will certainly give us our referral now because i've allowed myself to be broken before him about all these setbacks. i have done all the right things -- prayed, acknowledged his sovereignty, etc. surely he will reward me with a referral." and then, of course, when the referral hasn't come, i've wondered, "did i pray enough? did i cry enough? did i do enough surrendering?"

in all of this, i've had to realize that thinking about God as a magician who is placated by concoctions of good deeds and "right" responses is so far from truth. if God is such a magician, he is not sovereign; he is, instead, completely bound to human action. but truth says God is sovereign. and while it is good for me to trust him, to pray, to be broken about our situation, none of those things can will God to action because he will act when he has willed himself to act. our referral will come at his appointed time, not when i have done enough to earn it.

my pastor said tonight that it's possible to treat God like an idol, which seems a bit strange since it seems good to idolize God. but his point, which seems relevant here, is that we idolize things not because they are worthy of our worship, but because of what they do for us. they make us feel good, give us security or affirmation, comfort us, etc. and i think that's what i'm doing when i think God is a magician -- i'm trying to set up my life around him, trying to find the right combination of deeds and actions to please him, so that he'll give me what i want. what i'm missing is the opportunity to know God as loving and sovereign, desiring to grow me and make me new through this process.

so this week, i'm trying to give up on magic tricks. what about you?


  1. dang that's good. thanks for posting. i'm also learning to love Him for who He is, not what He can do for me... ie... give me. good stuff.

  2. I love the new blog! I love the header. Confession - when I made my first phone call about adoption, I thought if I said I wanted to adopt, then I would get pregnant. Mmmm....somehow it doesn't work that way! (Thank goodness!) Thinking of you!