Monday, March 22, 2010

The God We Want and the God Who Is

Each Sunday we drive over an hour to go to church. It's becoming tradition to listen to Christian music to pass the time and get our hearts ready to worship the living God in fellowship with others. More often than not we listen to Casting Crowns.

There's one line in the song, "Somewhere In the Middle" that has been continually in my mind for the past few days. The song is talking about being caught in the middle between who I am (a born-again Christian with a brand new life) and who I used to be (lost and undone, without God and without hope in this world). When we become Christians, we are given a new life, but even though our citizenship is in heaven, we are tied to this earth and we struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Part of this reality is that we live in a sinful place. It's a place where fathers or mothers kill their children - unborn ones that are inconvenient, little ones that make too much noise or get in the way of boyfriends, older ones that shame them and break the family rules. It's a place where contracts are broken and people are cheated out of businesses or savings. It's a place where babies are born with heart defects or houses burn down, or we're told we have cancer or some other dreaded disease.

For the Christian who knows that God is sovereign and in control of all things, the reality of living in a sinful place can shake our faith. Why would God ordain that a father would strangle his own daughter, for instance? Why would God use the brutal murders of a beloved wife and two vibrant sons to bring blessing to His people?

Because He's the God Who is.

Sometimes, He's not the God we want.

The God I want is the smiling Father who gives me good gifts that I like. The God I want answers my prayers and blesses me with good health, with lots of friends and a growing family, with work that satisfies, with deep relationships, with opportunities that abound. I know He is able to do all things, and I love it when He does the things I want.

But I am stunned when I read the story of Job, and realize that the God Who Is doesn't deign to explain His actions to this man who has lost everything. I am brought to tears when I read in Terror By Night that the God Who Is not only took Terry Caffey's wife and boys, but he lost his home and all its memories to a blazing fire set by the murderers.

As I sat there reading the book, my tears became tears of joy when I realized that this God, the God Who Is, ordained that a small piece of paper from a book would not only survive the fire, but would lie up against a tree, in plain sight, for Terry to find.

At 3:00 a.m. on March 1, 2008, Terry Caffey awoke to find his daughter’s boyfriend standing in his bedroom with a gun. An instant later the teen opened fire, killing Terry’s wife, his two sons, and wounding him 12 times, before setting the house ablaze. Terry fell into deep depression and planned to kill himself, but God intervened. Upon visiting his burned-out property, Terry noticed a scorched scrap of paper from one of his wife’s books leaning against a tree trunk. The page read: “[God,] I couldn’t understand why You would take my family and leave me behind to struggle along without them. And I guess I still don’t totally understand that part of it. But I do believe that You’re sovereign; You’re in control.” That page was like a direct message from God, and it turned Terry’s life around.
I must admit that I've been caught in the middle the past few days, struggling against the unwanted thoughts that seep into my mind, making me question why a loving God would do what He does.

Because I know this God, this God Who Is, and because He has led me down dark paths fraught with danger and despair and NEVER ONCE LEFT MY SIDE, I know that the God I want IS the God Who Is. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Are you in the middle? Or have you come to the place of peace, the place of full surrender?

"Somewhere In The Middle"

Somewhere between the hot and the cold
Somewhere between the new and the old
Somewhere between who I am and who I used to be
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Somewhere between the wrong and the right
Somewhere between the darkness and the light
Somewhere between who I was and who You're making me
Somewhere in the middle, You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Fearless warriors in a picket fence, reckless abandon wrapped in common sense
Deep water faith in the shallow end and we are caught in the middle
With eyes wide open to the differences, the God we want and the God who is
But will we trade our dreams for His or are we caught in the middle
Are we caught in the middle

Somewhere between my heart and my hands
Somewhere between my faith and my plans
Somewhere between the safety of the boat and the crashing waves

Somewhere between a whisper and a roar
Somewhere between the altar and the door
Somewhere between contented peace and always wanting more
Somewhere in the middle You'll find me

Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control

Lord, I feel You in this place and I know You're by my side
Loving me even on these nights when I'm caught in the middle


  1. Indeed. I've been thinking about this recently as well; thinking of the underlying, glorious tension between what God describes as good - and what He withholds from us for His good purposes.

    Good post Mom. I want to read that book.

  2. I'm not sure I could make it all the way through a book like this - odd, considering that Job is one of my favourite scripture books. The song is new to me (not much into radio, therefore, I am not familiar with many artists) but the words are wonderful.

  3. That's why I was struggling, Kim. I had trouble with the reality of horrific sin that is ever-present in this world. I could easily have sunk into a depression, were it not for the renewing of my mind with the Scriptures. God is good. We are not. And somehow, God uses horrendous trials and torture and pain and suffering to accomplish His purposes. I don't like that, because I am weak and frail and do not think God's thoughts in wisdom the way He does. I was thankful that God reminded me of the truth, using this song and a little book by Jay Adams.

    I don't listen to the radio much, either, but I am blessed with older children who introduce me to Christian music. Casting Crowns is one of my favourite Christian bands, because they sing truth.


Remember that you will give an account for every word. Respond with wisdom and grace, please.