The D Word: Part II

Posted on September 13, 2012

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And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Hebrews 11:6

          When I made the varsity softball team, I got worse.

It was a sport I had played my whole life and that I loved.  Nothing quite compares to the feeling of a crisp spring day and the crack of a ball on the bat.  I was thrilled to be on the varsity, but the problem was… I didn’t get any playing time.  Even in practices, I never got time in the field. While the starters fielded grounders, played scrimmages, and ran drills, the benchers would practice in the gym, or hit off the hitting machine, or field fly balls thrown by the assistant coach.  I tried not to care, because it was a team of crack players and we won games. I was just happy to be a part of it!

I’ll never forget the day I finally got some playing time… in left field (before this season, I had played second base).  I jogged out excitedly and I could practically hear the hum in my ears from the nervous energy coursing through my body.  One inning later, the batter hit me an easy fly ball.

And I dropped it.

Needless to say, I was never put in the game again.  My confidence was shot and I was devastated.  But looking back, I don’t blame myself.  After months of no game time, no real practice, and no time to get that nervous energy out, I was basically set up for failure!

At the end of the season, the coach forgot to invite two of the players to the end of the year party.  Guess who was one of those players?

Was my coach a bad coach? Absolutely not.  The next year, the team went on to win even more.  But I certainly didn’t play under her ever again—I didn’t trust her to care about my own personal best as a softball player.

Sometimes, God feels like my old softball coach.  He’s there, He’s winning, and you know that the grand scheme of things is under control.  But you can’t help but wonder how he feels about you, the person all ready and in their uniform, sitting on the bench.

He Rewards those who Seek Him

          The Bible goes so far as to say that part of faith is believing that God is a great coach. Not a good coach, who wins the games, but a great one.  He is a God who sees the entire picture, and is working towards winning the Universe’s Most Epic World Series Ever, while somehow in the meantime fostering growth in each of us, creating us to be new men and women.  He cries when someone we love dies, He would make the sun stand still if it meant we could win our own personal battle, He started caring about our bodies before we knew we were in them.  But when someone we love does die, or our personal battle is a complete loss, or the world seems cruel and heartless, it’s hard to remember, and doubt begins.

          If you feel like this describes you, you are right. I believe that at various points in time, it can describe any of us.  It certainly describes every Bible character! From Adam to the apostle John, there are times when things look pretty dire for the benchers.  They are told at 100 years old that they are wrong for thinking God probably forgot his promise to give that son.  They are thrown in the fire and not burned.  They are shown the Messiah after 400 years of silence. They are exhausted, martyred, exiled, hunted, lonely, depressed, and starving.  Pick a Bible character, and read their story.  You will see that every one of them wondered sometimes if God really rewards those who seek Him- and for good reason!

But It’s Not What you Think

The first example that comes to mind when I think of people who had a rational reason to think God gave up on them is the disciples.  Jesus handpicked each of them and had them quit their jobs and leave their families to follow Him.  He slowly over three years revealed to them that He was the Savior.  They believed that this meant that he would save them from political oppression. But Jesus revealed that this would not mean that He had any political power they could ever see. They were not going to have any political power! But on top of that, he made the current government so angry that they started hunting them all. Still the disciples stuck around. They slowly went from believing that Jesus was a great prophet, to believing that He was God’s Son.

And then He died.

Can you imagine?  Up until the very last moment, they probably could hold onto hope. Waiting for a miracle, believing that Jesus had a plan.  They watched him be crucified and whipped and taunted, but still tried to hold on that Jesus was who he said he was. AND THEN HE DIED.

We often interpret “he rewards those who seek him” in our own special way, and that way is usually entirely reasonable (as reasonable as assuming it’s not in the plan for God to die).  We figure out God’s plan for us and pray it to Him.  Sometimes, he laughs. Sometimes, he cries to see our pain.  But his plan is so much longer than ours, so much better, that to us, it makes absolutely no sense. 

Even when the game is over, and the season ends, He is thinking of you. He loves you. And he has a plan for you that makes no sense and and is longer and larger and grander than even life itself.

 To read Part I on Doubt, see here.

Posts by other bloggers on this topic:

disruptive faith (or, why we choose karma over grace)

I Don’t Wait Anymore

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Posted in: Seriously