Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The Power of Unpositive Thinking
It all started with my Trinitarianism exam. The one I think I flunked. It’s not that I didn’t study for it. I studied hard. I just studied wrong. (How could I go from A’s to an F? This is strange!)
Next day, I opened my mailbox to a letter from a former doctor. “Ms. Onderdonk, you had an advanced tumor at a young age and you are now overdue for a vital screening!” (No! That doctor is mistaken! They said we caught it early! Why am I getting a letter like this?)
Next day, I wake up feeling kind of sick to my stomach (Whoa. I haven’t felt like this since… they diagnosed the cancer two years ago! Has it come back?)
Two days later, I’m feeling even more sick to my stomach and there’s a fundraising letter in my mailbox from the hospice (Oh, no! God is getting me ready! I better get in to see my doctor ASAP!)
Now I have a doctor’s appointment scheduled for Monday morning. On the way to school to drop off the kids, my oldest son points out the window and says, “Hey, Mommy! What’s THAT building?” (Gasp! “That’s a… f-f-funeral home!” We have passed that building every school morning for five-and-a-half years and my son is just now asking me what it is? Of course! That’s where I’m headed!! God’s giving me an advanced tour!)
So I am now at the doctor’s office. Traffic was light and I'm early. Good thing I packed my Trinitarianism notes so I can study! (Where are my notes? I lost them! They’re gone! Of course! God knows I don’t need to bone up on the Trinity because I’m going to be meeting Them shortly!)
By this time, I am a full-fledged head case. Sure I am a mere month away from a morphine drip and life support.
When the doctor said, “Good check-up!” I was certain my ears had deceived me.
“Huh?” I said.
“I said good check-up!” said the doctor.
“Are you sure about that?”
It took a while for the reality of the good news to sink in. I was over-prepared for bad news.
What to make of this?
Somewhere between “New Christian Explores Faith” and “Old Christian Finds Joy in Suffering” there’s a place where many of us look for signs from God in everything. And in everything we sometimes think He's "speaking" to us. While it’s important to be tuned into God’s leading and steerage, we have to be very careful to discern as best we humanly can what is from God and what is not.
I lost a week of my life to a state of fear… thinking I was "hearing" God in all sorts of grim news and developments… when, in fact, it might have been someone else I was listening to.
We need to be good detectives. A good detective doesn’t solve the case then look for pieces of evidence to support his conclusion! A good detective looks at all the evidence before buttoning up the case. As Christians, the most reliable and important investigative tool we possess is the Bible (not our feelings which can be totally deceptive). This is the most powerful and trustworthy source of revelation we have.
Have you come to a conclusion of some sort in your life? And are you going around gathering evidence to build your case? Last week, I chose to filter out the good and focus on the weird. But amidst the hospice mailer and the nausea, there were positive things happening. The e-mail from my seminary friend who helped me make some sense out of my bad grade and motivated me toward a future direction. The invitation to speak at a distant event. God's glory and bounty and grace evident all over the place. Good stuf I could have just as easily focused on. But I didn’t. Like the single-minded detective, I was building a case that I was dying and seizing every indicator that this was happening.
Big mistake! Lousy week!
Are you building a case of some sort? I would urge you to think about God... about what He has revealed to us in Scripture. Does He want you to worry (1 John 4:18)? Does He want you to be distracted and upset (Phillipians 4: 6-7)? Does He want you wasting your time planning for bad events that aren't going to happen when you could be serving Him instead (Phillipians 4: 8)? Does He want you to doubt yourself and stall out when you could shine for Him (Phillipians 4: 13)? Does He want you to doubt His love for you (Romans 8:37-39)?
Does any of that... sound like God? Or does it sound more like someone else?
Today I ask: Who are you listening to?
(Photo by Rob Lee. See flickr.com for restrictions on use.)