Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ideas for Lent; Fogive God

"You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You just might find
You get what you need"
~from the Rolling Stones' 1969 album 'Let It Bleed.'
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Forgive God?! What kind of BLASPHEMY is this?! And what's with the Rolling Stones lyric? What are you THINKING? How can this possibly be Christian. Have you gone off the deep end?

Hear me out. I recognize that God is perfect, He doesn't sin. Jesus is the only human who never sinned. Obviously, therefore, He does not need to be forgiven for anything.

I know this, God knows it. But remember what Paul says in Philippians 2:6-7, "(Jesus) being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing..." The very creator of the universe took on the nature of a servant. That doesn't mean He sinned, I'm not saying that. But have you ever wondered why He had to be baptized? Surely not to receive forgiveness of His sins, not to secure His salvation. Jesus did that to obey the Father and to set an example for us.

So what does that have to do with us forgiving Him? Well, it's a different kind of forgiveness. Obviously there's no way we can ever offer God absolution or justification for anything He thinks, says or does. It goes without saying that we are always the ones who need that kind of forgiveness from Him.

But God does allow us to wrestle with Him, to be angry with Him and disagree with Him. Sure, we're the one's in the wrong when we do, but there's still give and take. He wants to have a genuine relationship with us.

So when and why would you ever need to forgive God? And what for? When you feel like He's hurt you or not answered your prayers the way you thought would've been best.

Jonah knew something about this. He didn't want to preach that the people of Nineveh needed to repent, but when he tried to run away from God, God sent the whale. Yes, He gives a free will, but He also knows our destinies.

George Bailey in the Christmas movie, "It's a Wonderful Life," wanted a life of adventure and accomplishment. He thought that he was a failure because he never left Bedford Falls and it looked like he was headed for jail because his Savings and Loan was about to fail an audit. But Clarence the angel knew that over and over again in his humble life, God had used him to help others in countless ways, the impact of which there was no way of measuring.

As part of my own midlife crisis, I've been frustrated that God didn't make me a world famous (and rich) professional writer and/or cartoonist. Do you ever whine that you're "just a ___________?" I did. But if I'm honest, and a little more appreciative, I can't believe how much I've been blessed. My wife, my kids, so many friends and loved ones- many of whom are former students and cheerleaders. The experiences, the opportunities, a great job... If I really sat down and tired to count my blessings, I couldn't do it- they're innumerable.

So first I said, "God, I forgive you for not always giving me my way, like some kind of temper-tantrum throwing toddler. I know You didn't mean to hurt me, in hindsight, I realize that You really DO know what's best for me, and I'll never be able to thank You enough for all You've given me."

Then, of course, I had to seek His forgiveness for being so selfish and short-sighted, let alone being such an ungrateful ingrate.

Okay, maybe a more orthodox way of saying it would be to surrender our will to His, to recognize His sovereignty, His wisdom, his Love and benevolence for us, and His omniscience. But whatever you call it, everyone needs to let go of their demands and open themselves to the grace and abundance with which God has already showered them.

If you do, you can start enjoying and appreciating what He prepared just for you, uniquely and especially. You can finally begin to live with an attitude of gratitude. "Go ahead and "forgive" Him, and then start THANKING Him for knowing what's best, and wanting it for you.

"It's not having what you want. It's wanting what you've got"
~from Sheryl Crow's "Soak up the Sun," from her 2002 album, C'mon C'mon.  
"Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers"
 ~Garth Brooks, on his 1990 album, 'No Fences.'

No comments:

Post a Comment