Our Best Life Now?
March 7, 2018
By Mike Ivaska
“If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” - 1 Corinthians 15:19 NIV
If you know me very well, you know that I’m not good at trusting God. One of my wife’s most constant, loving, constructive criticisms of me is that I just don’t trust God. And she’s right. I am the poster boy for proving that there is a huge difference between knowing a lot of theology, or a lot of Bible, and actually trusting God. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a believer. I trust God for my salvation. But do I trust him for five minutes from now? That, strangely, is a tougher question. But I think it might be that way for more people than just me.
If you were at worship with us on Sunday, you remember that I chose to go way off script with my sermon. (In Pentecostal circles we call that being “spiritual”.) The long and the short of it was that I had planned much of the application of my sermon around the idea of passing along the faith to our kids. When I stood up to preach and realized that nobody with kids, other than the pastors, were actually even at church, my heart sunk and I scrapped the sermon. Now, this reveals a couple of things about me and they’re all bad. For starters, I envisioned my sermon too narrowly and with too specific an audience in mind (a rookie mistake). When the people I had developed the sermon around weren’t there to hear it, the sermon became pointless, at least in my mind. And that leads to my second failure on Sunday. I let the ups and downs of life and ministry tweak my cool . But I think, among my own silly fleshiness, God used the time. I confessed, hopefully somewhat clearly, that like Abram and Sarai I am guilty of creating my own “Ishamels” in life and ministry. I have tried to manipulate people, or circumstances, instead of trusting God. It has never worked, and has always produced some kind of “Ishmael,” some kind of unintended complicating consequence. Often it has led to hurt feelings in myself or someone else. It’s never been good, though God has used my failures for his own good many times (something he promises to do, my the way).
This all led to a conversation between Nichole and I after church. The Lauren Daigle song, “I Will Trust in You,” came on. If you don’t know it, google the lyrics and give them a read. Part of the song goes like this:
When You don't move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don't part the waters
I wish I could walk through
When You don't give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You
I will trust in You
The topic of trusting God came up, and I asked Nichole what it meant to trust God, to really trust God, along the lines of this song. Usually when we tell each other, or ourselves, to “trust God,” we mean trust God to do something in this life. But what if God choose not to grant us “health, wealth, and happiness” in this life? What if the cancer doesn’t get healed, the job doesn’t pan out, and the raise doesn’t come? What if our eyes really are supposed to be on God, and on heaven, and on the return of our Savior, rather than on God showing up at the “eleventh hour” to give us a new Lamborghini?
As I told a Roman Catholic friend yesterday, I’m not sure most American Pentecostals have an algorithm for that. I think it sounds like unbelief to many people. But if the apostle Paul is our model, then our unbelief is the anxiety, fear, and anger that accompanies this knowledge that things might not go our way. Confessing that the future, this side of eternity, is uncertain might actually be one of the most difficult, but most “adult” forms of faith. . .assuming, of course, that this confession is accompanied by trust.
“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears,then you also will appear with him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 NIV