Today I was reading Matthew 7:13-23 and ended up with tears rolling down my cheeks. I think that some doubts and wonderings that I've had over the years, but buried, because 1. they scared me, and 2. I was confused about conflicting doctrinal points I've encountered, and 3... well, mostly, yes, I was scared! ... anyway, they just all suddenly burst out!
It's an interesting chapter. Verses 7 to 11 are so encouraging. Father giving good gifts to His children and all. And then verses 13-23... well, here's how they "hit me" (as I wrote in my journal):
Am I the only one who finds this passage really disturbing? Sometimes it really worries me about ME.Well, by the time I got to writing the last few lines, I really did have tears rolling down my cheeks. Feeling so discouraged. Feeling hopeless. Even feeling like surely I have let God down! (Yes, I know, that isn't theologically sound...)
First, if some Calvinists I've encountered are right, and only some are "chosen" (and others have no chance), then what if someone really WANTS to believe in and follow Jesus... and even really believes they are... but what if that person isn't among the "chosen" ones (and who can know that for sure?)... what if all that's person's longing and trusting is for naught?
Second, if some Arminians I've encountered are right, the ones that are so big on "backsliding" ... well, what if a person has maybe been misled by false prophets, and doesn't even know they have been misled? What if they really love the Lord, and are following Him with all their might (at least they believe they are), and then they get to the judgment and find out that it was all "Lord, Lord" and they got off the track along the way?
Third, what if someone - okay, what if I! - look at myself right here, right now, and don't see evidence of "fruits" in my life? What if, for example, I can't list off a bunch of people who I know I personally led to the Lord (seeing as that seems to be the number one "fruit" in a lot of folks' opinion). Or if I'm not all involved (like I used to be) in a whole bunch of church activities and programs (another big time fruit, in some peoples' opinion). Or what if I'm not "bold" at telling people the gospel? Or I don't seem to be reaching out to my neighbors, even the ones right in my neighborhood/complex, even though I try and try (and then kind of give up because nothing happens)? Or if I feel rejected by past "church friends" but then realize I haven't been trying very hard to reach out to them myself? Or what if the depression I've recently gone through is really a sign of lack of faith, like some folks say?
And what if I actually don't seem to be bearing (so far as I can see) either good or even bad fruit? Does that mean I'm "lukewarm" (as in Revelation 3:14-22)?
And suddenly, hubby (who did not see my tears), called to me to ask me to go to the store and get something for him. Like I wanted to go to the store with tears rolling down my cheeks. But it was kind of an emergency, so I went. I got what he needed, and as I was on the way to the till, I passed a display of my absolute favorite kind of chocolate bar (which is usually hard to find around here, and is more expensive than most) on special: 3 bars for 99 cents!
And the weirdest thing happened. Father was smiling. I wouldn't say I "saw" Him or anything. But I knew He was smiling. And He kind of chuckled and said, "Remember, your Heavenly Father gives good gifts to His children!" (Okay, so I didn't "hear" that out loud or anything ... but I heard it nevertheless.) And so I picked up 3 bars!
I took the other stuff home to hubby, and then grabbed the camera, because today was the most totally amazing beautiful sunny winter day ever, and I went to the beach, and clicked and clicked (and nibbled on one of the bars, of course). Heavenly sunshine! Beautiful creation! Mouthwatering chocolate (what? you don't think Father's gifts include chocolate?)!?!
Even the seagulls were wheeling with joy! And Father is smiling! Yes!
(And then I went to the library and got some books about a project He's been gently pushing my way... and I've been hesitating because of all my wonderings and discouragement and stuff. Onward! Thank You, Lord!)