God’s Nature Vs. God’s Methods—What’s the Difference?

Is there a difference between God’s nature and God’s methods? I believe that God is infinitely good, but something inside me questions His methods—that perhaps they’re not always in my best interests. So, does that mean I don’t really think that God is all-good, after all?

I sometimes picture God as a mad scientist type, with white hair and a white beard, clipboard in hand and watching over His creation. All of us are like little mice, running to and fro through a gigantic maze. Some of the time it feels that God is controlling all the things going on in the maze. 

“Let’s throw a little rain at them and see how they respond. How about a little cancer here, a little car trouble over there? What do they do then?”

At other times it seems that God isn’t doing anything but standing back and watching everything unfold on its own. I know this deist view isn’t accurate, but sometimes it’s hard not to believe it’s reality. 

Admittedly, it’s hard to picture God as loving when I’m also picturing him as standing back from His creation, aloof and unconcerned about the goings-on of the individuals He is presiding over.

So why do I sometimes see God this way? I believe it’s the sheer silence that we get out of God most of the time. We pray and seek Him, yet for the most part He is silent. At best, we get a barely discernible whisper from within our spirit when He does speak directly to us. 

It seems that if He were interested in us, He would make himself more known to us. Seems like a fair assessment.

I realize I’m being hard on God with this line of reasoning. And I know that his thoughts are higher than my thoughts, so I’ll never understand why He does the things He does and doesn’t do the things he doesn’t. That’s just part of being human.

But just because I don’t understand God’s methods doesn’t mean that I can’t trust him completely. In fact, that is the very essence of faith, isn’t it—to trust God even when there’s no logical reason to do so? I believe that is a solid definition of faith.

In my heart of hearts I know that God is good. I’ve always believed that I think. But that doesn’t mean I always appreciate his methods. Often I feel like things that happen in life ought not to happen, that I go through hardships that I could just as easily do without. 

As they say, “God never wastes a tear,” which means that everything is part of God’s divine purpose and plan. Perhaps I should just accept that and move on. There is no sense getting upset when things don’t go the way I think they should. 

Either I trust God and His methods or I don’t. It’s that simple..

These are problems that I will probably always struggle with; it’s part of human nature to try to figure out the mysteries of life. However, we must not let these thoughts taint our view of the infinitely loving God who created us and who loves us unconditionally.

That’s where faith comes in. 

An Unwelcome Visitor

gloomy

Just like good music, death makes a strong impression on a seven-year-old. The young mind, still forming emotions and reactions that will last a lifetime, takes in every scrap of information around him to try to make sense of the world he’s in. His world is one of grown-ups — parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, even cousins.

I was the last child born into the family — a surprise. I wasn’t supposed to be here. As a child, my world constantly tried to reconcile itself with the one around me, the one everyone I knew lived in. It was the world of any number of grown-up decisions about life, money, work, friends, love, or just what to eat or watch on TV. Because of my tender age, I had little or no say in any of these things in my own life. My young, but sharp mind latched onto any anything it could to learn, to survive and thrive. In this regard death is a masterful teacher.

After a lengthy battle with cancer my best friend’s father died when we were both seven. I had spent a lot of time at his house, and had even been to his father’s office a couple of times. Once when I complained to my mom that I didn’t want to go kindergarten, she relented and let me stay home that day. Later that morning I went with her to run errands and we found ourselves at my friend’s father’s office (he was an attorney in our small town).

To my surprise, my friend and his mom were there — she had allowed him to play hooky also. As our parents took care of whatever business they had, we played on the floor of his father’s office, perfectly oblivious to the world around us. His death a year or two later taught me that life is often cold and cruel, and able to remove people from our lives without hesitation.

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For me, a short time after my friend lost his father, death became associated forever with one particular song — “Let ‘Em In”. This track is found on the same Wings album as “Silly Love Songs” and “Cook of the House”. I must have had this song on a 45 record also because I know I didn’t have the entire album on an LP.

I will never forget listening to “Let ‘Em In” shortly before the phone rang that late summer afternoon. A local church youth group had left out early that morning for a canoeing trip. One of my oldest brother’s friends somehow drowned in the river they were on. I knew of this boy, because he had visited our house and had spent some time with my brother.

When I learned of the reason for the call, my young mind nearly went over the edge. Emotion overwhelmed me. I cried. I didn’t understand death and didn’t know why people I knew had to keep dying. It seems that there had been another death around the same time, making this teenager’s drowning the third recent death of someone I knew. I was scared and confused. I felt powerless to stop the onslaught of this horrible, dark thing called death, with which I had had no experience until recently.

I grabbed the phone and, even though my mother was home, dialed the only person I thought would understand — my best friend’s mother. Death had just laid claim to her husband, so surely she would understand the crushing wall of fear and darkness I felt at that moment. When she answered, I wailed into the phone, “It’s happened again…Somebody’s died.” She tried to calm me down as best she could. At that point my mom came into the room.

After that afternoon and until recently, I never intentionally listened to “Let “Em In” again. There were a handful of times afterward that I unwittingly heard the song. Each time I relived the pain, darkness, and powerlessness of that afternoon. The song was and is one of the most profound emotional catalysts of my life.

Not long ago I decided to pull the song up on my computer. I made myself listen to a few lines of it to see if it still had as profound an impact on me as when I was a kid. The emotions weren’t as strong, but they were still unpleasant. Just letting the flute line run through my head sends me crashing back to my childhood with full force.

I think I’ll just leave the song back in my childhood where it belongs.

 

freckled boy