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The problem of creating God in our own image

By AL EARLEY

Religion columnist

After starting a new diet, a woman altered her drive to work to avoid passing her favorite bakery. She “accidentally” drove by the bakery one morning and in the window were a host of chocolates, donuts, and cheesecakes. She felt this was no accident, so she prayed, “Lord, it’s up to you. If you want me to have any of those delicious goodies, create a parking place for me directly in front of the bakery.” The mighty hand of God was with her. On the eighth time around the block, there it was! 

We like to think that practicing our faith brings us just rewards. If we follow a few rules that we are comfortable with then God will protect us from all the stuff we don’t want to experience. If we are not comfortable going to worship regularly, then God must like it that we worship on the golf course. At least we give God lip service. 

Or maybe we are comfortable worshipping God with our spiritual family, but we are not comfortable tithing. Surely God is happy we are using our money in spiritual ways to take care of the family. God surely does not want us to go lacking in anything. Doesn’t God help those who help themselves? (That is not a Biblical statement, by the way).

Time is so precious. Surely God does not expect me to go help someone who is poor because of their own bad choices when I am so busy. And, by the way, Jesus was surely a Republican/Democrat/warrior/pacifist/capitalist/socialist (you fill in the blank with your favorite descriptor of who you are!). 

Too often, we see God in our own image, and therefore God supports our politics and lifestyle. And when things are going the way we want, we are sure this is a perfect sign of God’s blessing upon us and all our choices. The only problem is that these things are not that important to God, and so when life’s challenges, trials, and tragedies get to be more than we can bear, we get mad and run away from God who has let us down. 

God does love to shower blessings upon us, and does so in such great measure that we can take our blessings for granted. But life is hard, and it is not fair. God has a special purpose for these times in our lives when we are challenged more than we like, or think we can stand. These are the times God wants us to run to him and find strength in him. These are the times God is building our relationship with him so that we will trust him with everything in our lives. 

There are so many scriptures that call us to always trust God no matter how bad our lives get. We read in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Jesus assured us that we can trust God in this life and for eternity in John 14:1, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”

It is important that we realize just how many blessings God showers down on us every day, so when life is hard and unfair we don’t get mad at God for not meeting our expectations. Make a list of the blessings God showers down on you every day. Think about the countless blessings of faith, family, provision, friends, and being an American citizen. If you can’t come up with a list of at least 30 blessings you receive every day from these then you aren’t trying hard enough. If you write this list down, you can look at it when life gets hard and is unfair, and you can remember to run into God’s arms instead of running away from God. 

Do you have a list of all the things you are thankful for?  Are you always thankful, or just when things are going well?  Do you expect God to protect you from all unpleasantness and discomfort?  Does your worship, giving and service support your answer to the previous questions? I hope you will decide today to trust God with everything.

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, visit lagrangepres.com.