It's so amazing to me how different each and every one of us are in our walks with God, and yet how similar an experience it can be at the same time. We all have the same strengths and weaknesses in regard to life and sin, but we also specialize, as it were. We all struggle with the basics; pride, coveting, lust, idolatry, etc.; but we also all have our own little pitfalls and strong points. How varied yet the same is the human experience. I, for instance, am not burdened by an overwhelming need to gamble. Neither do I struggle with drink or drugs, nor have I ever been accused of being haughty, arrogant, or narcissistic. Boy do I struggle with fear, though. Not to mention lust, laziness, gluttony, and probably idolatry.
I find interesting the things that God teaches us and things we all struggle with, like trusting him. I do think some of that is simply due to us being unable to physically interact with him. Most people can't just sit down at a table and chat with him over coffee. How many of our fears would be assuaged if we could ask him questions and have him answer clearly? I recently heard part of a sermon where the guy was saying how much greater our gift of faith to him is now, versus the time when we finally see how it all makes sense. The idea being that it's more weighty when he have to trust without knowing it all. We so easily forget that God's end goal is to glorify himself, and the best way for that is for us to reflect him - to be our shiniest.
C.S. Lewis, whom I love dearly for his many apt words, wrote on several occasions of how God was working to turn us from one thing into another. He said that we were like tin soldiers who were being transformed into real boys, that we were houses that he was turning into mansions. At any given moment, we see only that wall he's knocking down, or moving pipes, or any number of things, knowing only that it hurts, things are changing, and they don't often look like they're changing for the better. I cannot imagine any house being renovated and liking much of the experience along the way. But the results... This is how we find ourselves. We are told that God plans for us great things, but it's hard to believe that, and not simply because of what he's doing now, but what he's done to us in the past, as well as the things he hasn't done. How many times do we just want him to slap some duct tape on some part of our life and call it good, and he knows the plumbing is altogether shot and needs replacing altogether?
Taking the analogy further, I can also see how we might distrust that he really wants us, that he could possibly love us in the condition we are in. And if he's going around knocking holes in things, we would naturally feel worse about ourselves and think even more that he doesn't care for us. Of course, it's all well and good to look at such a situation dispassionately, but it's so amazingly difficult to believe when we're going through it ourselves.
I wonder why it is that we don't trust God. It's been there from the beginning though, that, at least, we know. Mankind's very first sin occurred when Satan asked if God really said that, and implied that he had lied to us. Our first sin was distrust and pride, thinking we knew better than he the way things should be. Though why that is, I do not know. Why would one of our very first actions be to distrust the very one who made us? You can see it fairly blatantly in children who are very self-willed when you tell them not to do something, or that something is dangerous. "Don't touch it, it's hot." "Touch."
I have been an odd duck, I've noticed. Maybe it's because I got saved at age three, but I've always been the person to not only obey directions, but to learn from the mistakes of others so as not to make them myself. I tend to have a very clinical view of things. It has given me an interesting outlook on how we approach God. Specifically, I often find my thinking at odds with christians who are all about emotions. Emotions are important, but I see so many believers these days needing to "feel" God, to feel his "presence". The problem lies in allowing emotion to lead, rather than inform and aid. The truth is, it doesn't matter how I feel, it only matters whether it is true, whether it is something that God wants me to do.
Our culture is one of, "truth is what I feel", but that's a load of crap. There have been several key moments in my life where God prompted me to do something that I really, really didn't want to do, but I sucked it up, asked him to help me, and eventually managed to do those things. It doesn't matter what we like, it doesn't matter. We focus so much on feeling God's love that we forget that he is God. He created us, he owns us, and he is the boss of us. Yes, it is absolutely better to do something he said because you love him, because you feel his love and want to please him, but we must act either way. He even said so: "To obey is better than sacrifice." This, of course, presumes we are obeying out of the correct motives. Jesus had the harshest things to say for the leaders and priests who seemed to follow all the rules, but weren't actually obeying.
I have had to do many things in my life without, or in spite of, emotions. I have had to come to the same conclusion time and again in my darkest moments, which is the same as the apostles after many people abandoned Jesus. Basically, where else am I going to go? He's God. I can do nothing about that, and it is utter madness to try. Try and run away? I don't think so. At best, you end up like Jonah. At worst, you run straight into hell. God is good, and has told us so. I must believe him, even when I really, really don't. Now I just have to learn how...