Remember that guy who used to attend your church? We’ll call him Joe. Joe volunteered and served and helped in any way possible. Do you ever wonder why Joe dropped by the wayside or what happened to him? Though we might consider many conjectures the truth is that Joe grew disillusioned with God. Joe prayed for a solution to a pressing problem, and God’s answer was not as expected. Joe decided God was not trustworthy and tossed his spiritual relationship out with the trash.
J. B. Phillips, in his book Your God is Too Small, put Joe’s complaint this way, “The One whom I trusted…let me down…” And that distorted point of view convinced Joe that his God, the One who gave His only Son to pay Joe’s debt of sin, the One who showered Joe with spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3), was no longer worthy of Joe’s allegiance.
Does God give guarantees?
A few years back I purchased a set of Kobalt screwdrivers from Lowes which came with a lifetime replacement warranty. If any tool failed under normal use Lowes promised to replace it. The Phillips screwdrivers in my set rounded off after three years of casual service, and I returned them to Lowes for my guaranteed replacements. The department manager informed me, “We no longer sell Kobalt screwdrivers, and Lowes does not honor their warranty. You have to go directly to Kobalt’s web site.”
I learned that Kobalt had discontinued their line of screwdrivers, and their warranty was worthless. The guarantee which influenced my purchase of those screwdrivers was a vapor promise with no substance. That experience continues to influence my tool buying choices.
For many among us, like Joe, God failed a test, and the mention of God or the Bible or even a religious discussion triggers unsettling memories. We steel ourselves to tackle life alone, and anger mixed with bitterness hardens once-soft hearts into stony wastelands.
Does God give guarantees? How reliable is His warranty given that His Bible is filled with promises and commitments?
The Old Testament book of Numbers records the incident where Balak from Moab hired the prophet Balaam to curse Israel. Though Balak increased his bribes and accompanied Balaam to various spots to see the camp of Israel from different perspectives, the result remained unchanged. God’s intention was blessing not cursing for Israel. Balaam delivered the bad news to Balak.
“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? “Behold, I have received a command to bless; When He has blessed, then I cannot revoke it.Numbers 23:19-20 NASB
Has He spoken, and will He not make it good? Ladies and Gentlemen, the basis for a solid guarantee rests on the integrity of the person making the promise.
Phillips included this observation in Your God is Too Small, “God will inevitably appear to disappoint the man who is attempting to use him as a convenience, a prop, or a comfort, for his own plans. God has never been known to disappoint the man who is sincerely wanting to cooperate with His own purposes.”
True story—I was once like Joe. God failed me, or so I thought. My relationship with Him fragmented, and though I continued with the religious motions my heart grew colder. I was stuck at that point in the past, and my disappointment with God fogged my present and clouded my future.
Yet God had not moved.
I pondered the issue I had faced and the solution I requested that He failed to provide. I listed the tangled web of events that occurred since and discovered that God had indeed resolved the issue.
But His solution looked nothing like mine!
He worked in His own way and fulfilled His own purposes. He demonstrated the surety of His promises and the solidness of His guarantee. I began to grasp the surpassing excellence of His choices. He had things to teach me about trust and faith, and I needed to learn the stellar superiority of His ways over mine.
Now what do I do with these realizations?
Forgive me for doubting You, Lord. Thank You for the ironclad dependability of Your promises. Help me to trust You completely no matter the circumstances. Help me to acknowledge daily the preeminence of Your plan over mine.