Some stupid human tricks
The story of my Christian experience
I did some dumb things as a young Christian and I’d like to share them with you so that you don’t make the same mistakes.
It’s the loving thing to do.
I had heard other Christians talk about asking God for patience. That seemed real spiritual and I knew that I was an impatient person, so I asked God to give me patience too. To this day, He never has answered my prayer for patience. He did however give me three kids? I’m much more patient now and I’ve stopped asking God for more patience.
I listened as some mature Christians talked about being “other centered”. They called it Agape love. Said it was the opposite of self centered. The way God loves us. Said something about fixing our ingrown eyeballs so that we could be focused on the needs of others. That sounded reasonable to me too, so I asked God to help me focus on the needs of others and not myself. My eyesight became better but God grew a nerve link from my eyes to my heart. Then my heart was routinely broken over the injustices I saw. I think Jackson Brown wrote a song about this phenomenon.
One day a friend came to me all impressed that God had pointed out in the bible that Moses was the most humble man on the face of the earth and my friend was going to ask God to make him humble too. You’d think by now I’d have known better? Nope! I took it hook, line and sinker. I’m not sure if I’m humble yet, but I have built this nifty ladder to get up out of bed in the morning. Sometimes humble feels pretty small.
That same friend found another nifto keeny passage in the bible where some really confused guy was asked by Jesus if he believed. Evidently that confused guy said that he believed but then he asked Jesus to help his unbelief? My friend thought that was a great answer. I had to think about it for a couple of weeks. Having a mind like a steel trap, I wondered why, if this man already believed, why did he need to believe more? I ended up guessing that there must be different levels of belief so I asked God to help my unbelief too. I’m not sure if I believe any more now than I did then but I’m learning how to spell some new words like “hypocrisy” and “faithfulness” and “commitment” and… well you get the point.
I heard a man give a talk about taking spiritual risk. I remember at the end of his talk he asked God to increase the risk in his life and for God to increase His power to deal with the extra risk. That sound like suicide, but inside I knew it was a god idea, so I asked God to do the same for me. Since then, I found that sometimes people who won’t take risks have a hard time understanding and accepting people who will. I guess it makes them uncomfortable to be around people who change things for any reason. I guess God must be answering their prayer for patience?
As a young Christian I used to pride myself on being Biblically correct. Translation, if you didn’t see it my way you were wrong! Unfortunately for my fragile male ego and self confidence, I started listening to a very mature Christian teacher on the radio who I caught espousing tolerance in some areas of personal convictions. Can you believe it? He quoted some old guy who said something like “In essentials unity. In non essentials liberty. In all else love”. Once again I couldn’t resist trying out this radical idea. Sometimes it’s hard to know what’s really worth arguing over. I found that when things are running OK, people will segregate to ridiculous degrees, but when times are desperate… well, those issues that we though divided the “real Christians” from the lesser Christians seem to get overlooked and were just glad to have anyone who claims to know the God who loves them. There aren’t any atheists in a fox hole and there are no “inferior Christians” in a time of need.
I remember reading the bible where Jesus gave a class on internals values. I think it’s known as the sermon on the mount? Anyway, reading that was probably one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. It really messed me up! Jesus talked about the idea that if I even looked at a woman with lustful thoughts that God considered that the same as adultery. Can you imagine? Then I had to learn another new spelling word called “conviction”. I tried everything I could think of to fix the problem. I asked God to take it away. I tried turning my head to avoid looking at some women, but that caused some problems when I was driving a car! I asked God to help me understand what was causing these desires in me. After a long while, I thought about the blind and wondered, since they couldn’t see, if they had any lust problems? Seemed reasonable and I was desperate so I talked to God and told him that if He had to make me blind to solve the problem, so be it! When I finished that prayer, I was rather surprised to still have my sight. I continued to struggle until one day while driving down the highway I saw a piece of stainless steel metal on the back of a truck mud flap and of all the stupid things, it caused me to lust! After a piece of metal! Completely hopeless, I considered that I’d inherited a pre-disposition to desire the perfect set of curves be it on a woman or a piece of metal shaped like a woman. Was it an eye gate problem? I wondered if the Apostle Paul struggled with this problem? I didn’t know for sure but I remember reading that Jesus was tempted in all things and never sinned. There’s hope! Somehow there had to be a way! So I asked God, how did Jesus do it right? And then it hit me! If Jesus created all things like John says He did, then he created women too. And if he created women then I figured that He viewed them as his children and not as sex objects the way I did. I knew that if I ever had a daughter that I wouldn’t lust after her. I could understand that. So I asked God to help me see people as He sees them, as people and not as things. Ultimately that was the cure for my problem! It took several years to finally deal with that one simple passage I read. Looking back on it now, I reckon God really wasn’t as concerned with my inherent lust problem as he was in driving me to recognize that He saw value in people differently than I did. Now I have special insight into how God sees us but it sure was an expensive fight!
I read in that same sermon on the Mount about the concept that God desires that we should not to be anxious. That seemed idealistic, but in an honest review I realized that I was indeed an anxious person, so I set out to define what was making me anxious so that I could stop it. I quickly recognized that I was always anxious when I was driving a car? I was anxious because I was always driving over the speed limit and would have to constantly scan the horizon for state troopers. This was before radar detectors. So I decided to pull one of the stupidest human tricks to date. I knew from Paul’s letter to the church in Rome that we are to be in subjection to the governing authorities so I decided that I would stop breaking the law and drive the proper speed. No need to be anxious about getting a ticket right? What a dumb Idea! Immediately I was in a dilemma. If I get out of bed too late… do I speed like normal to arrive to work on time? Or do I stay with my commitment to obey and arrive embarrassingly late? If I let one meeting run too long and hit the road to the next meeting running late… Well you get the idea. What a fight! I realize now that I broke the law in the past because I thought I was above the law, that I was “special”. I used my laziness as an excuse to disobey, to do what God said would cause anxiety. I don’t think God was as interested in what speed I drove as He was in my blame shifting and my false pride. Driving the speed limit wasn’t as easy as I thought. It involved an entire life attitude change. Now I have to take responsibility for my actions!
I remember as a young Christian thinking that God was sufficiently a “part” of my life until I heard someone describe our relationship with God like a house. The idea was that we may feel comfortable letting God into the living room of our life, but would we let Him into the bedroom? Would we let Him into the closet? I instantly knew that I had unintentionally denied God access to some of the rooms in my life. I pulled yet another stupid human trick and told God that He had my permission to go anywhere He needed in the house to make me more like His Son. I remembered something similar to this idea in the Old Testamate where David asked God to search his heart. So I figured I’d try that too. What a crazy idea! Working with tools gave me a further idea. I realized that I had pre-supposed my usefulness for God in only one area. Say as a simple screw driver. But what if God needed a socket wrench? That kind of tool seemed too complex for me as a young believer, but I told God I’d be what ever tool He needed me to be. In fact I’d be an all purpose tool if that’s what He needed.
Some Jesus freaks I met talked to me about something they called the “means of growth”. They said that the bible indicated there are five major areas to work on to grow as a Christian. Fellowship was one they mentioned, as well as reading the Word, and praying. They called these the “food” portion of growing. The other two they called the exercise part of growing. Said we need to do the exercise portion so that we didn’t become overfed and fat. They are ministry and discipline. They mentioned that if a person wasn’t involved in all the areas that their growth would be retarded. Four out of five dentists would not equal eighty percent growth but may result in ten percent growth. Like a dummy I made a run at being involved in all five areas! Have you ever had your family members see change in you so radical that it scared them? Ever try explaining why you spend so much time with Jesus freak kind of people? Unsatisfied with what they saw in me, one of my siblings gave me a T-shirt that says it all. The shirt says “get a life but don’t ask me where to look for it”.
I listened to a man on the radio describe a fascinating experiment with baby monkeys. The person doing the experiment wanted to find out how significant touch was in the development of baby monkeys so he set up two surrogate mothers in adjoining cages. One mother was made out of wire mesh which had a nipple hooked to a supply of milk that could be activated as needed when certain baby monkeys needed to feed. The other mother was covered with terry cloth and a light bulb was placed in her to radiate some warmth. The milk supplies were controlled so that only certain babies could get milk from the wire mesh mother. The result was that all the baby monkeys played around the terry cloth mother. They climbed on her patted her and snuggled with her. The only reason the control group babies went to the wire mesh mother was for milk. When subjected to stress the wire mesh babies cowered in the corner screaming while the terry cloth babies ran to the warm mom. The man on the radio then asked the pertinent question. When we dispense the new milk of the word to baby Christians, do we do it as wire mesh mothers, or as soft warm terry cloth mothers?
I remember reading a couple of profound statements that Jesus made. He said that where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be and we can’t serve God and mammon. Once again, I did a dumb thing and decided to make His people my treasure and to serve God and give up the right to go for the brass ring. I think God is pleased, but Wall Street hasn’t changed a bit. I look forward to Heaven where God will reveal to His children who couldn’t resist the money, how proud He is of those who look so foolish now.
I found out that God rarely uses a man mightily until He crushes him thoroughly. For all the dumb things I’ve done, I hope God gets a good return on His investment!
I heard a man say that doing God’s work, Ministry, is a privilege not a right. I reckon that God could use simple rocks or a talking donkey or a burning bush to get His message out if He wanted to.
I heard a man talk about how in the Old testament, God set up cities of refuge for people to flee to if they had been involved in an unintentional wrong doing. That guy then mentioned that Jesus’ Church is to be people of refuge to harbor and protect those who need mercy.
Do you take the demands of the gospel seriously? Are you just going through the motions playing church? Are you man or woman enough to pull some stupid human tricks too?