“He sighed deeply and said, ‘Why does this generation ask for a miraculous sign? I tell you the truth, no sign will be given to it.’" (Mark 8:12)
When I was in graduate school, I took a course in organization theory. In the early weeks of the semester, I realized that I did not have so much as a clue as to what that course was about. The readings made no sense and the lectures were even more confusing.
Finally, I worked up the courage to go see my professor. I was embarrassed to admit that I was lost, but I decided to just come out with it. “Don’t worry,” he said, “you’re right where we want you.”
I am going through a similar experience now in my Christian walk. In my effort to deepen my walk with the Lord, I have become more than a little confused by some things that the Lord has allowed to happen in my life. Somehow I think the Lord, much like that college professor, has me right where he wants me, too.
A lot of Christians, including me, would like for the Lord to be more demonstrable with both his presence and his will for our lives. However, if you are waiting for the Lord to come down and tell you what to do, the way he told Moses and the Israelites, it’s probably not going to happen.
Philip Yancey points out in his book, “Disappointment with God,” that crystal-clear clarity from God does not promote spiritual growth. “It may … get a mob of just-freed slaves across a hostile desert, but it does not seem to encourage spiritual development. In fact, for the Israelites it nearly eliminated the need for faith at all; clear guidance sucked away freedom, making every choice a matter of obedience rather than faith.”
The Old Testament is full of stories that support Yancey’s claim. Exodus 32 records that when Moses descended from Mount Sinai with two tablets containing the Ten Commandments, the very people to whom God had revealed himself were dancing like heathens around a golden calf. “When Moses approached the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, his anger burned and he threw the tablets out of his hands, breaking them to pieces at the foot of the mountain.” (Exodus 32:19)
God didn’t play hide-and-seek with the Israelites. He parted the Red Sea, gave them water from a rock and filled their stomachs each day with manna from heaven. Why, he even put a cloud over their tabernacle and moved the cloud when he wanted them to pack up their tents and move. In spite of all the signs and wonders, the Israelites did not praise the Lord and invite his presence. Instead, they openly rebelled and feared the loving God that had delivered them from bondage. Indeed, as Yancey puts it, “God’s visible presence did nothing to improve lasting faith.”
As much as I want God to be more audible, I also know that my faith will go nowhere if I allow him to make the choices for me. You see, God wants us to focus on him and not on his signs and wonders. He wants us to trust him, even when we can’t reach out and touch him. The Bible says it another way, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.” (Psalm 62:8)
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