Sunday, April 11, 2010

Why Can't I Believe Now?

By the time I entered seminary I was tired of being alone, but there didn't seem to be any hope of change. Four hundred miles from home and away from almost everyone I knew, what chance was there that I was going to meet the girl of my dreams? One day when I was feeling especially lonely, the thought came to mind that if I didn't know who or where my future wife was, God certainly knew. So I decided right there to pray for her, that God in His providence would take care of her and some day guide her to me in His own time. The result of my prayer was a greater sense of peace and confidence that God would meet my need. Little did I realize that I was standing literally over my wife while I was praying. She lived in the apartment beneath me. We still laugh about the way God was bringing us so close to one another. We celebrate our thirty-fourth anniversary this year.
Looking back on that experience, I'm struck by how much God enabled me to rely on Him in faith. I had complete confidence that I would be married some day and that God was certain to bring my lovely wife into my life. No question about it. Now, however, I am faced with a new challenge, and I am a bit mystified at myself.
These days, my need is not for a wife but for growth in our fledgling church plant. We have a solid core, but we need serious growth in order for our new church to survive and thrive. We pray for growth and work toward that goal constantly. But as I pray and listen to myself, I've noticed something and it troubles me. I pray, but I don't seem to believe as easily that God will provide new church members as much as He could provide a wife.
What's the problem? If I could believe that God would send me a wife, why can't I believe now?
The answer is a lesson about unbelief. When I prayed about my future wife, I was willing to accept God's Word and His promises so completely that I would not allow myself to entertain doubt. There was never a "What if this doesn't work?" in my mind. Why? Because I knew two things: 1. That the situation was totally out of my control, and 2. that I had done all I could do about it. But when I prayed about our church the circumstances were quite different. As pastor, I still felt like there was something I could do, or rather that I had not done, so that I was not really trusting in God.
I've had to come back to the basics and realize afresh that our church is still God's work, not mine, and He is perfectly capable of taking care of it. The real issue is not His ability -much less His faithfulness - but my obedience and complete reliance on Him. If the church is His, He knows where the members are, now and in the future. If I have been completely obedient to Him, I have no reason to doubt that He will hear and answer our prayer and bless His church. I should be able to trust Him to take care of those people where ever they are, and to guide them to us in His own time. Someday I will learn about our church what I learned about meeting my wife: that I did all that worrying for nothing. When I found it so hard to believe, God was still faithful.

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