In my ministry, I have always placed a high value on learning and teaching correct doctrine. My entire ministry career, I have been waving the flag of Christian orthodoxy. I want every aspect of my life and ministry to herald biblical truth with a gospel-centered focus.
And yet, at the end of the day, if there’s a disconnect between what I confess to be true of God and what I actually believe in my heart to be true of God, then I am missing God.
Several years ago, I was going through a fairly dark season in my life. Marriage was harder than I thought it would be. I wanted to be a good leader in my home, but somehow, I could never seem to get it together. I was busy, stressed, ill-equipped and inadequate.
Ministry was also hard. I seemed to have a standing appointment with disappointment. I made rash decisions. I communicated poorly. I cared more about growing attendance than actually loving people.
I even reached a point where I had all but abandoned any close relationships because I believed no one could be trusted.
Disappointment + Frustration + Isolation = a recipe for disaster.
During that season, I began to question in my heart whether or not God really loved me. After all, I had committed my life to serving him, why was I experiencing so many disappointments and frustrations? It didn’t matter to me that Jesus had suffered and that he promised those who follow him would also suffer. Deep down I expected something different.
I expected a life full of his richest blessings, so when those blessings didn’t arrive in the time or packaging I expected, I began to believe in my heart that God didn’t really love me. I would faithfully proclaim from the pulpit that God is love, but in my heart, I wasn’t so sure.
I got caught up in my own bitterness to the point that what I believed in my heart didn’t match my confession.
A.W. Tozer puts it this way in his book, The Knowledge of the Holy:
"Compared with our actual thoughts about him, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed for what it is. Only after a painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God."
Compared to our actual thoughts about God, our creedal statements are of little consequence. Our incorrect thoughts and attitudes don’t diminish God, but they absolutely diminish our joy and our experience of life in Christ.
Thankfully, the Lord is patient and faithful. He brought friends into my life who gave me the gospel clearly and with authority. Through his Spirit, his word and a community full of his people, God has reoriented my heart into alignment with my confession.
Today, I have “come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” – 1 John 4:16
Perhaps you are facing a similar struggle today. In the face of overwhelming frustrations, it’s easy to believe God has abandoned you or he’s not in control, but that’s not true. God will never abandon his people. He’s available to you right now.
My encouragement for you today is to examine yourself and ask the question, “Do I really believe God is who he says he is?" And if so, "Do my attitudes and actions reflect that belief?”
Think big thoughts of God and trust him with every part of your life. He loves you, and he wants you to love him too.