“Do you believe that God is a giver or a taker?” “Is what holds us back from the wild ride, the fear of what He may take from us?” And “ Do we fear how much He will have to take from us to get Glory from us?” These are the questions Beth Moore asked tonight in Bible study. These are hard questions, we may say one thing with our mouths, but in the deepest parts where fear hides, we may believe the other.
I used to believe God was a taker. I remember standing in church with my big pregnant belly and singing, “he gives and takes away, my heart will choose to say, blessed is your name;” And being terrified that God was going to take my baby from me. Because I hadn’t suffered loss yet in my life, and somehow I thought in order for God to work in and use me for His Glory I would have to suffer. What a twisted view of God.
Fast forward a few months, I am kneeling at the side of my bed, (because if I kneeled God would hear me better) sobbing, and crying out to God to give me my husband back. One month later he would leave for good. Loss, with a capital L. Did I have it coming because I had never lost anything before, because I hadn’t suffered yet, was it was just my turn? Is God like that?
God did not cause my divorce because he wanted to test me, or grow me, or get Glory out of me. All of those things have come from it, (at least the first two, and I hope the last) but he was not the one who caused it. God hates divorce; he would never cause it. Sin causes it, plain and simple. And sin is the absence of God. But that does not mean that he can’t take the results of sin and use them for his Glory.
I always believed that God could do a miracle, and answer that sobbed out prayer. But he didn’t. He allowed the sinful choices to play themselves out, and there was never the change of heart to bring about restoration. Does this mean God didn’t care, that he “took” my marriage from me? Does he take more than he gives?
No. He chose not to restore the relationship (even while asking me to consider the possibility, see Belief Part 1) that much is true. But in that process he gave me so much more. I had a realization last semester that floored me. For school I had to attend three AA type meetings. For one of them, my friend and I chose to go to an Alanon meeting, which is a meeting for the families of those with addictions. During the meeting they read from one of their pamphlets a list of the crazy behaviors and things that people do when they are living with an alcoholic, just to try to get through to them and to try and change them. Now my husband was not an alcoholic, but he had some unconventional addictions that seriously affected our relationship. As the list was read, I sat there realizing that I had done every single one of the things on that list, as it pertained to my situation. I realized how crazy those behaviors were, how desperate I was, and how hard it was. And this weird little thought, that had been bouncing around in my head for a while, even thought I tried to press it down, came to the surface. “I rescued you from that.” God didn’t give me my husband back, but what he gave me was sanity, he gave me strength, he gave me peace, he gave me stability. I may not have seen it while I was going through the pain, but in that moment, he gave me the tiniest glimpse into the big picture.
So tonight when the question was asked, “Do you believe God is a giver or a taker?” I can honestly say I believe he is a giver. I may still struggle with fear, but if I recognize it for what it is, I can confront it with the truth: God wants to give good gifts to His children. It may not always look like what we think it should look like, and yes sometime he has to take things in order to give better things. But He gave his SON. How much more proof do we need that God is a giver?
“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things” Romans 8:32