god-in-a-boxI like to keep my house tidy and well organized. If I can’t have clean, I can usually find peace with hiding the clutter. If I don’t have to look at the messy, irrational parts, I can pretend that they are not there. I can find comfort in considering only what I allow myself to see. I can define my surroundings with the appearance that I am in control.

Sometimes we try to do the same thing with God. We want enough of His presence to give blessing to our plans. We are so comfortable with our expectations and opinions and comfort zone that we assume He agrees us. We don’t actually want His input, unless it reinforces what we want to believe. We make decisions and assumptions on what is good and right, and then we require that God bless them.

Surely God agrees with me! Surely God likes the things I like and dislikes the things I don’t! Surely God recognizes the wisdom of my perspective! But what if He doesn’t? What if God is less interested in my opinion than in my testimony? What if my self-righteous indignation is more “self” than “righteous”? What if God is more concerned about the people I alienate, than in the validity of my perspective or personal choices? What if God wants me to represent His love, rather than put me in charge of straightening out those who think differently than I do? What if God wants to do a new thing or an old thing in a new way? What if God wants me to obey Him, and I want Him to obey me…and just stay inside the tidy box I build for Him?

The most cursory reading of the Bible reveals a God who is unpredictable. He doesn’t have a set response that applies in all situations to all people. He may deliver his people from their fears, or He may walk them through their fear to a deeper trust. He may destroy their enemies, or He may use the testimony of His people to change the hearts of their enemies. He may reveal His power, or He may give power to those who choose to obey.

The Bible also reveals a God who is always in control, even when he allows things His children don’t like. His goal is not to make us comfortable or content; His goal is to reveal His glory and increase our holiness. His goal is that all peoples know Him. What happens when we claim to represent God, but our words and behavior come from our own need to be right, rather than the love and righteousness and power of God?

Putting God in a box may mean that we separate ourselves from Him. Insisting that God confine Himself to our expectations may mean that our testimony to those watching us includes nothing more than our own preferences. Worshipping the God who will not stay in the box requires that we see Him as He is, not as who we’d like Him to be. Loving those around you may not include browbeating those around you into agreeing with you. There is no trust required for the things you can control. Faith kicks in when we remember that He is God and we are not, especially when He destroys the box and works in our world in ways we don’t like or don’t understand. Our job is not to draw boundaries for Him; our job is to honor the boundaries He draws for us.

How do you respond when God doesn’t confine Himself to what you think is right? Do you assume He isn’t in charge? Do you appoint yourself as judge and jury over those who see things differently than you do? Does your testimony give evidence of love or of condemnation? Do you give God the space to work His will in ways you didn’t expect? Are you mindful of how you represent Him to those around you, or are you more interested in proving that you are right and those who disagree with you are wrong?

May we seek His will, not our own. And may our faith in His power be manifested in our testimony.

Eph 4:29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it might benefit those who listen.  

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