Summary: When God doesn’t make sense, He’s on the move.
There are two kinds of rollercoaster riders. The first kind gets in the car with hesitation and fear. They white-knuckle the lap bar in a death grip and either sit there in complete silence or scream their heads off the entire time. In this case, the rollercoaster produced anxiety and nausea. During most of the ride their mind focused on whether or not the car would fly off the tracks or they’d fly out of their seat. They exit the ride assuring their companions that they will never get on one of those again.
The second type of rider leaps into the car excited and ready for a thrill. Rather than grip the lap bar they hold their hands up the entire time because they know it’s not going to leave the track and that the ride is design to protect even those who are clueless about personal safety. This rider has a smile on her face the entire time. She may scream, but it’s more of a “woooo!” than an “ahhhhh!” They exit the ride and say, “Let’s do it again.”
The longer I live, the more I see that life with God is a rollercoaster ride. There are ups and downs. Sometimes the path is straight, but it’s filled with curves. Just when you think you’ve settled down and can relax you realize that the calm was only the top to the first hill and God soon drops you off a cliff. Some folks just endure this aspect of life with God and are filled with anxiety, dread, and sometimes even despair. When God doesn’t make sense they teeter on giving up a life of faith.
A handful learn to enjoy the ride. Why? Because they realize that there is a destination in all this and the train is not going to jump the track. There is some pleasure in the ride because they understand that when God doesn’t make sense, He’s on the move. In the times of confusion, the Lord is bringing completion to His plan and our place in it. This morning I want to provide some guidelines for when the going gets weird, so that maybe when God doesn’t make sense you can enjoy the ride a little more.
Guidelines When the Going Gets Weird
God didn’t make sense to Abraham when He told him to go sacrifice his son Isaac. The child was the fulfillment to God’s promise that He’d bless all nations through a descendant of Abraham. His birth was miraculous. Isaac came along when Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100. Then God called Abraham to take the very thing he’d been promised, the son that he’d waiting for and said, “Take him to a mountain in Moriah that I’ll show you and sacrifice him as a whole burnt offering. What sense does that make? I assure it made no sense to Abraham. He probably concluded that the God who’d been speaking to him was just a mean, capricious little deity like those he’d known growing up in Mesopotamia and in the surrounding Canaanite cultures.
Abraham did not know that command was a test. We know because the Bible informs the reader, but Abraham had no idea. God often does not make sense when He’s testing us. This leads to our first guideline:
1. Keep in mind that God’s testing stretches our quality capacity.
There is a difference between testing and temptation. Temptation is enticement to sin. God never, ever entices us to sin. But He does test us.
Testing occurs when God expands a good virtue or characteristic within us. Trust was the quality God tested in Abraham. God tested his trust by stretching it to the limit. He pulled it almost to the breaking point.
Testing is really a compliment. If you’re being tested it means that there are godly qualities within you and God is stretching their capacity. He’s making those virtues purer and stronger.
Laura and I have been tested several times in the same area over the course of our marriage. For some reason God keeps calling us to take major risks for Him. When Drake was born we decided for Laura to stay home as a full time mom. I was in seminary at that point, making $6.00 an hour working a nearly full-time job. God provided. We’d often receive money in the mail out of the blue. Our bank account decreased to only $7.00 at one time, but never went any lower. That test was only the beginning. After 5 years in the UMC, which provided an extremely secure and well-paying job with a fantastic pension plan, God called us to step out and plant a church. After 5 years there He called us to leave without the prospect of any job. God provided on all those occasions, but I’ve noticed that each leap into the dark gets progressively riskier. Yet we feel little anxiety in it because God has progressively stretched our risk-taking ability.