Honestly, I wish God were more like a candy machine. I pay with obedience, prayer, sacrifice or money. He delivers my selection.
While it’s an appealing thought, I don’t believe that’s what my Father is like–anymore. The sad thing is that I used to. And it took me way too long to trade lies for truth.
This Lenten season I have the opportunity to partner with Robyn as she confronts the lie of a treat dispenser God.
Our getting up at 7:45 to read the Bible and pray routine is killing her. She’s practicing faithfulness and integrity though not entirely without a touch of attitude. In return, she’d appreciate it if God would show up with a soul hug or at the very least to take her tiredness away. So far He hasn’t really come through and it begs the question, Where is He? Sleeping on the job while she is busy reading the Bible?
I wondered the same thing during my young adult years. I don’t remember how I came to believe in a candy dispensing God. I think I heard some of those TV evangelists my mom always watched declaring confidently that if we pray for things we want long enough and hard enough, we can be confident God will dispense what we ask for. I probably misinterpreted their point but kids will do that to make up a story in which they feel secure, loved and in control.
I had my first big opportunity to test the efficacy of prayer+faith= control and the stakes were high—life and death. My aunt and uncle were in a horrific auto accident and both were critically injured. So I immediately started praying. Like a broken record I cried out to God day after day anticipating a miracle. Three weeks later, my aunt died and after a grueling 16 months in a vegetative state, my uncle eventually succumbed to pneumonia. His funeral represented two deaths in my life—his and my childlike understanding of God. That’s when the battle began…
Much like the person who deposits their money,
chooses their candy code,
waits expectantly for the machine spiral to twirl a few times and drop the candy only to be disappointed by mechanical failure,
I banged it
and said bad things to it
and wrote an IOW and taped it to the machine complaining it was stolen.
This machine owes me I reasoned.
I was just plain disappointed and disillusioned that my candy was withheld.
Stuck fighting the candy machine for at least a decade—maybe closer to two– that was me.
My belief about God’s love for me and sovereignty in my life was totally messed up. I thought that if He loved me, He would do what I ask. I would be in the driver’s seat of my own destiny inserting my token gestures—prayer, money, service, sacrifice and obedience. I would say “Jump” and He would say “How High”.
I can’t say there was a moment of clarity but rather a gradual shift in my perspective
as I heard God’s word spoken into my life faithfully week after week and year after year,
as I entered into accountability relationships,
as I lamented my complaints to God in prayer.
At some point I realized that God didn’t owe me proof of His love. That He had already proved it once and for all on the cross. And because of His resurrection, he can be trusted.
Finally I understood that it wasn’t Him who needed to change something, it was me.
I began to trust rather than demand.
To embrace the mystery of His sovereign, incomprehensible plans for my life and sometimes even appreciate and anticipate His surprises.
Now it’s my turn walk beside Robyn on that path of discovery about God these 40+ days of Lent.
What a journey we are taking together……