The Accidental Pharisee

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Unanswered Questions

For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:9 (NAS)

I don't understand what you're doing God.

But that doesn't mean I don't trust you.

I stood in my kitchen as I said those words, out loud. It was an odd sort of prayer--but a prayer nonetheless.

I've learned the hard way that trusting God doesn't require understanding God. Trusting God doesn't mean all my questions are answered--or if they are answered, that I get the answers I wanted.

I've watched my friends' life spiral out of control in a horrible way these past two weeks. I've seen bad become worse and worse become heartwrenching.

It makes no sense.

In another season in my life when I let doubt rule and reign, I would have allowed all of this to convince me that God is not trustworthy. I am determined to never walk that dark road ever again.

Yes, none of what is happening to my friends make sense. It is tragedy in the truest sense of the word. And yet, it doesn't mean that God isn't trustworthy. It just means I cannot see life as he sees it--the beginning and the end all together. All I can see is the pain of this moment--and the next and the next.

Thinking Out Loud: We Accidental Pharisees like our questions answered. We like to tell God how to answer our questions because we think we have God figured out oh, so well. After all, we've read the Bible. We've probably even stood in front of others and taught the Bible. Unanswered questions are uncomfortable, scary--and we aren't sure God is big enough to handle unanswered questions. We know we aren't.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Not Doing the Dos

This is eternal life , that they may know You, the only true God , and Jesus Christ whom You have sent .

John 17:3

I've had an on-the-run relationship with God lately.
And, oddly enough, I don't feel distant from him.
I don't feel like he's mad at me.
Life has sort of swept me along the past week or so, as I found myself caught up in the lives of others who were hurting, who needed my time, my attention, my support.
Along the way, I kept talking to God. I interceded for my friends. Sometimes my prayer was nothing more than the words, "Oh, God ..."
And I think God knew exactly what I meant. I think he understood how much my heart was hurting for my friends and how much I wished I could make it better. But all I could do was turn to him and ask him to be God in their lives.
Sometimes my prayers were worship songs sung at the top of my voice as I chose to praise him even when life didn't seem to make sense.
Sometimes my prayers were focused requests for God to be Jehovah Shalom, the God of Peace, or Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals. And always, I asked for God to be mighty on the behalf of my friends' 12-year-old son who has cancer--and an arduous battle ahead of him.

Thinking Out Loud Here: We Accidental Pharisees like to do all the Dos and avoid all the Don'ts. We major in religion and minor in relationship. But this past week, God and I had a relationship. He ran with me as I ran to my friends--and he paced me as I tried to be there for them. He didn't "tsk-tsk" me for not having a proper quiet time. I think he was glad I kept talking to him through it all. I didn't say, "I'll get back to you, God, once I'm done dealing with this crisis." No. I walked through the crisis--am still walking through the crisis--with God beside me.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


Faith isn't faith until it's all your're holding on to

I doubted God--and it ruined my relationship with him for 7 years.
That was then, this is now.
I find myself in another set of circumstances, facing the same choice: trust or doubt.
I am determined to trust God.
When the voice of the enemy whispers, "What if ...," I am going to stick my fingers in my ears and hum a favorite praise and worship song really loudly.
When the past rushes up and tries to drag me to my knees by reminding me of how things haven't always gone the way I hoped, I am going to grab on to something solid--a treasured verse or favorite quote--and not let go.

Thinking Out Loud Here: We Accidental Pharisees can lose focus. We take our eyes off the right thing--God--and pay too much attention to circumstances. Yes, I live in the here and now--and some days it hurts trying to draw a breath. But here and now is not all there is to my life. And I am not in control of here and now--God is. I need to be watching him closely--and what he is doing when it seems like my world is spinning off its axis. Even when I can't see him, God is here--and he knows what he is doing.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

An Un-Pharisee Moment

My head was buried in my computer, as I am wont to say.
My hands were tapping across the keyboard, usually a mistep of type, type, correct, type, type, correct. I am a lousy typist and have been since my first Journalism 101 class.
Worship music played in the background. I love to work with music playing. This morning it's Chris Tomlin. How Great is Our God came blaring out from my computer speakers--and I had to stop working so I could lift my hands and praise God.
And as I sat in front of my always cluttered desk, hands lifted, head thrown back and eyes closed, I felt God's presence.
And I didn't feel like a Pharisee--Accidental or otherwise.
Oh, that I could stay in that moment.
Buried behind a stack of papers--see how honest I'm being?--is a little sign I confiscated from my daughter's Sunday School papers. It reads: Take off your shoes, for the place where you are standing is Holy ground (Exodus 3:5).
Moses found God in a burning bush.
I find God so often in my office, as I write.
I write because He made me to write. When I am writing or editing or even banging my head on the keyboard wondering why, oh why the words won't come, I am being who God created me to be.

Just Thinking Out Loud: We Accidental Pharisees can find our way to freedom and grace if we praise God more. Talk about ourselves less. Praise God more. If we're not sure how to do it, let someone who knows how lead the way. Turn on some praise and worship music. Sing some hymns.