Malaria and Robots

by - January 31, 2014

"Dear Google.  What are the symptoms of malaria?"  Pounding headache.  Chills.  Fatigue.  Body aches.  Enlarged Spleen.  I'm not sure what my spleen is doing, but the rest of that, check.  I'm also dressed like an Eskimo and my heat is turned up to 80.  I've never been hit by a Mack truck...and I don't really feel like that now, but maybe like a full-sized car backing up and didn't see me and just kind of knocked me to the ground and then a bicycle ran over me.  Uncomfortable, annoyed, but ok.  The good news:  A few of those symptoms also represent jet lag, and with the additional facts of sleeping in 3 hours spurts this week, as well as a sore throat and the constant need for a tissue...I'm ruling out malaria and thinking I have jet lag, a cold, and probably a mild case of the whine butts. I've got 9 days before I need to be on a plane again, so I'm home and probably will stay here for a few days to drink liquids, adjust to the time zone and blow my nose (which I cannot do in the presence of another human.  Its a thing of mine).  I will watch for signs of spleen enlargement just in case.  "Dear Google.  What are symptoms of spleen enlargement?"  What a sissy.

Sitting still usually opens the gate to wander down a writing trail, and based on some recent conversations with several people, and my own recent conversations with God, I'm going to type some thoughts out.  But first, I need to turn the heat down before I die. 

Here is the recurring thought that has come up multiple times in the past several weeks:

If God_______________, then________________.  Do you ever have that kind of thought?  Fillings for the blanks vary.   Here are some examples:

If God is good, then the world wouldn't be like this.
If God loves me, then this never would have happened.
If God cares, then He will make this situation better.
If God is just, then there will be justice in this matter.
If God is faithful, then he will bless me with what I ask him.
If God is real, then he would prove it.

If God_______________, then_________________.  What are your fillers for these blanks?  If God is kind, no one goes to Hell?  If you have some thoughts like this they are probably well thought out, reasonable to your understanding, and can be argued with evidence that seems sound.  If God is Sovereign, then he would reign.  But the evidence, (the state of the world, bad things happening, harmful and hurtful situations, and injustice) can lead one to believe the One who claims sovereignty must not be good. Must not love me, doesn't care, isn't just, isn't faithful...isn't real.

The conclusions we draw from the evidence we evaluate are wrong anytime they lead to the belief that God is not good, loves you, cares for you, just, faithful or real.  God does not enslave us.  He does not force us or others to do the right thing, or be good people.  He allows us to choose.  He gave us freedom from the beginning, not chains.  

We may accept that freedom for our self, but then want Him to prove himself by controlling others.  "God make them do this."  "God, why did you allow them to do that?"  "God, how could you let this happen?"  "God, I'm doing things right, why can't you make them do the right thing?"  God created us.  He is sovereign.  But he doesn't force us, or them, to believe or behave.  If he did we would be slaves, not sons.  If he did, we wouldn't come to him of our own free will.  It wouldn't be a relationship, it would be a resignation to the inevitable. Where is the joy in knowing someone was forced to be with you, instead of them freely coming to you because of their great love for you.  God created us in His image, love and relationship are not unique to humanity they are divine characteristics of Him in us.  He wants a relationship, not a robot.  He could build robots though. He could have built an electric fence around the tree of knowledge that grew pretty apples.  But, he is just, not manipulative.  He allows us choice.  Even to deny Him. Even to go against His will and plan for us as our Creator.    

People will lie about us.  People will betray our trust.  People will go on campaigns to hurt us.  They will be unforgiving, cruel and have poor character.  They will kick us when we are down instead of lifting us up, and Satan who is as real today as in the garden, will whisper..."that's God's fault. He sat by and did nothing.  He allowed this to happen to you (by not controlling someone or something else).  He is not good. Does not love you.  Does not care.  Is not just.  Is not faithful. Is not real."  And we believe it, because we need to assign blame, and who better to blame than the One who claims Sovereignty.  If God_________________, then__________________.  God's word tells us these things will happen because we are in a broken world.  1)  He has overcome the world. 2)  When those bad things happen he will use it for your good.  If you let Him.  Again, he won't force you there either.  

Here are some things that He at times has allowed me to learn to consider:

1)  God's plans for me are not in contradiction or competition with anyone else.  Not for a job, not for a relationship, not for purpose or meaning.  As he knit me in my mother's womb, and knows the plans he has for me, He describes himself in scripture as personal to me. He hears me when I call.  He establishes my path.  I can let him, or I can struggle to try and make things work our according to my understanding.  I've done it both ways.  And following His lead fits my soul better than anything I ever tried to make work.   We try to make something work, make someone conform, work for some achievement, it blows up and we blame Him.  I struggle with the unknowns because my flesh still wants the type of proof of His goodness that I can understand or recognize, but I know Him, and at the end of my struggles I trust him.  I'm not nameless human # eleventy billion and 3.  I'm Haley Lougene to him.  He loves me.  You are (insert your name here).  He loves you.  

2)  I have to draw correct conclusions.  The actions of man, do not determine the character of God.  a)  We know God, according to Romans 1, because of creation.  Creation is evidence of him.  I know he is real through the setting of the sun, or the birth of a child, or the tree that grows from a seed.  Creation is evidence of a Creator.  b) We know God through Jesus Christ who is God.  We have a record of his character, his love, his sacrifice.  His goodness. His justice.  His power and authority through the gospels of his life in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  We know God through Jesus.  c)  We know God through the entire Bible, where he chose Abraham and his people the Israelites to be the story-tellers of who God is.  They had worked so hard to build their religion that they lost touch with their relationship with God.  And when He came to save them, they chose religion over relationship.  d)  I know God by the work of the Holy Spirit, who when I first believed in Jesus, was given me to teach me and show me the way.  Jesus promised him to all of us who believe in John 14.  Not every thought that runs through my mind is Him, but I know His voice.  I know when it is Him...even though sometimes my heart may warble the message a little.  Choice isn't taken away from me, I can still choose my own will, my own understanding, and sometimes I do.  But the Holy Spirit reminds me of the way I should go, and helps me get there for my good, and God's glory.  d)  As we read the rest of the New Testament we learn how our lives can be transformed by God, through faith.  

We have to look for evidence of God where it is offered...not look for evidence of God where He has been rejected.  Where someone is not following him, not showing His characteristics.  That isn't evidence against God, that is evidence of that free-willed person.  "That person is a jerk, God is obviously not good and probably not real."  In Psalm 51, David says "against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight."  We are certainly affected by other's sin, but their sin is against God.  Against His will for their life.  He didn't cause them to sin against you. But for now, they have the ability to choose.  He is the one they defy.  That is why He says justice is his, and we have to demonstrate forgiveness.  The one concept satan will continually attack.  Forgiveness.  Christ is all about forgiveness.  If satan can make forgiveness in our own relationships seem impossible, either for us because we are the offender, or through us to someone else...then its an easy step to doubt the forgiveness that came on the Cross.  I can't forgive, or I can't be forgiven, so how is it possible to be truly forgiven by anyone, even Jesus.     

3)  You've probably heard this...emotions don't equal truth.  Practice what we believe, instead of argue what we don't understand.  Don't practice hurt emotions.  Man that is hard, because we feel so justified.  Especially for those of us who like a good debate.  We may find ourselves telling God how we think He should be handling things.  God lets us wrestle with him, but at some point we need to quit back talking (the one thing in life that has probably gotten me into more trouble than anything else.)  I'm a hasher-outer.  A thinker-througher.  Sometimes its not time, or its not safe to do that.  He's working on me though.  We are able to take thoughts captive, bring them under the obedience of the truth, and hand him the reigns. He would not tell us to do that, if it was outside of our capability.   Instead of struggling with how he is handling things, practice believing He is working all things for our good.  I think 99 percent of my struggle is when I am pleading a case...instead of just standing on what I believe about him and resting in him.  These past couple of years have taught me to be still and silent, and hand him the reigns.

Last night I woke up at the end of a sweet dream that left me a little sad and asking "If God__________, then__________."  Again, on very little sleep and a little bit of a fever, its kind of easy for a girl to get a little emotional.  I was up from midnight to 2, and went to sleep just saying His name because I had nothing else to say.  Three hours later I woke up with David Crowder's song "Oh How He Loves Us" running through my head.  I haven't had that song on a playlist in a couple of years.  I tried to go back to sleep, but the song was waking me up and I couldn't remember all of the words.  "Listen to it Haley."  So I turned my lamp on, pulled it up on Spotify and let the morning bring me word of His unfailing love.  Psalm 143:8.

He is good.
He loves us.
He cares.
He is just.
He is faithful.
He is real.

Even when others are not.  Instead of rehearsing unbelief (If God__________, then___________.), practice believing that God is everything He says He is.  He will give you rest.  He will remind you of His love.  That he cares.  Your peace is not dependent on anyone, or any circumstance.  Peace that passes understanding, come what may, comes through your relationship with Him alone. That is what we were created for.  Everything else is some kind of round whole, square peg scenario.  Mark 9 tells us that we can ask Him to help our unbelief.  He will.  Practice.  Belief and peace will increase in you, and then it will spill over.

Click the red letter lyrics below to hear the You Tube link to hear David Crowder's version of this song.  This is one of my favorite lines:
All of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory...

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