Sunday, September 9, 2012

When God Disappoints

We went whale watching the other day.

We were on a large boat that could hold over 200 people and, to be honest, I didn't have such high hopes for the adventure. I wanted to see whales jumping out of the water, fully extended so I could capture some sweet shots of them mid-air. In my head, that's what whale watching was...but things don't usually ever turn out the way I imagine they will, so I tried to have low expectations.

It was like the time I was in Hawaii and my friend and I randomly, spur of the moment, decided to go skydiving. We pulled up to small trailer at the edge of the island, were rushed into some harnesses, signed our lives away and stared at each other in disbelief that we were about to jump out of a plane. A few minutes later they informed us that we wouldn't be able to jump after all...the weather had gotten too bad. We did get to go a few days later, but we lost a bit of the luster that came with the spontaneity of the adventure.

It was like the time a few weeks ago when a group of us tried to go hang gliding. We had bought a groupon deal almost a year ago and were pumped to soar in the sky like a bird for a while. Instead of flight, we received lessons and a few good seconds of airtime as we learned how to move and adjust our body according to the glider and the wind. Still cool, sure...but it wasn't what we thought it would be.

It was like the time I was in India and I begged and pleaded with the Lord to heal this 5-year-old girl of her inability to walk, speak, function like a human being and nothing happened.

I could probably list a thousand other instances where I wanted to do something or be a part of something that seemed awesome, but for whatever reason it ended up either not working out at all, or it simply was a disappointing experience.

I started processing this a bit on our long boat ride out to see the whales. And as much as I know truth, I really found myself in this struggle to believe that God wants good for me...even in the little things. Or that I'm scared to tell him things or ask for things or admit that I want anything at all, because I fear it won't happen. Sometimes it's easier to pretend I don't want something and to be excited or thankful if it comes along.

In the grand scheme of life, I'm not sure it really matters that I see whales jumping, get to go on a skydiving or hang gliding adventure, or witness an actual physical healing. I think the thing that matters more is recognizing continued distortion of how I view the Lord. I say continued, because this is nothing new. At the end of the day, I don't know if I fully believe that God cares about being good to me. I don't know how to get there, and I feel like a 'bad' Christian because of it.

These are those times that people typically spout scripture at me and assure me that God is good. It's one of those times where I know that...but in the middle of riding out the see the whales, I found it easier to convince myself that I wouldn't actually see anything cool because cool things don't really ever happen to me.

And so we rode on...and on...and on. We circled around for a long while, and my projection began to seem more and more likely. No whales for us. But then?? There were some spotted in the distance. We pulled up closely and all of us ran to the side of the boat to capture a glimpse of the enormous beasts. I clicked away at my camera, catching a tail or two or the backside of a whale (which really just looked like a log).

Every time I got to a place to see or take a better picture, it seemed I had just missed it. A woman next to me commented, 'You're bad luck. Anytime you get close, they disappear.' Ha! I felt like she had just spoken the story of my life. Even in the midst of getting to see the whales, all I felt was disappointment... and I knew that somewhere deep in me, I blamed God for it.

My brother and I stayed on one side of the ship when mostly everyone else was on the other side. A few moments later, 2 whales (a mama and a baby) decided to come to our side. We had a perfect view.

And while I didn't get the picture of a whale in midair that day, I got this one...and I love it. As we lingered, we watched this babe and mom roll over, flap their pectoral fins, slap their tails. Apparently a lot of the behavior we got to witness was 'rare'.

It was here that the Lord reminded me that He is good...even if it's different than I want or expect. I think I learn this lesson a lot--and I might continue to for the rest of my life. Sometimes we just need reminders.

Things I know?
God is good.
Things I believe?
God is good.

And beyond just living like that, I want it to infiltrate the way that I when things don't necessarily go the way that I hoped, I might just genuinely believe that it's better.

As we struggle through the commotion in our minds/hearts over what it means to truly follow Jesus and how the external and the internal bleed into one another...may we find the joy of simply trusting that He is exactly who He says that He is.

And may there be no disappointment in that.

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  1. Ive been dwelling on this for months trying to figure out what the heck was wrong with me for doubting God. I once again got to a place where He reminded me that His Son was enough and that anything else should pale in comparison...yet we say that but sometimes its just on our tongues but far from our hearts. Im glad your not fearing to dive into whether or not you actually believe what us Christians say we believe! Thank You for sharing the wisdom God has blessed you with!

  2. Every time you share one if these, it's exactly what I'm going through. It's like God makes you write them to remind me! Keep posting!!
    -Sarah E