If you love football, there's nothing like a good stiff-arm. It is all about creating space and distance from your opponent. As a 29-year-old who still has dreams about my high school football days, I can vividly remember being on both sides of the stiff-arm. As the giver--it's thrilling. As the taker--it's humiliating. But it's one thing to blog about stiff-arming linebackers and safeties. It's another write to talk about stiff-arming God.
But we do it.
Remember, stiff-arms are all about creating distance, space, and separation, and we often do this with God...sometimes intentionally...sometimes subtly. I might not be too far off in saying that keeping God at a distance is where we like to hang out and camp.
What so much of spirituality boils down to is this--what are your expectations of God?
High expectations--means you live with the faith that God is very much involved in every day affairs and that He is eager to intervene and intercede in this present world.
Low expectations--means that you believe that God will take care of everything in the end, but that he's not concerned about interceding in every day affairs. One day, he'll make the world right.
Here's the kicker, if you choose to live with high expectations of God, moments will present themselves when you will feel like God has let you down...
...like he has made a wrong turn...
...like he has turned a deaf ear...
...like he has been silent and still.
So, let me give a little advice IF you want to save yourself from ever feeling like God has let you down...live with low expectations of God. Expect him to make things better in the end. But don't expect divine intervention in day-to-day life.
Many people call this "deism". It supposes that God has a plan for the universe, but that divine intervention isn't on his radar or agenda. For years, I thought that deists were crazy. After February of 2010, I've come to see that many times people become deists (even though many people wouldn't admit it) in order to protect God. Some things happen in life, and there's no way to describe it, but that God has his hands off but one day he'll set the world straight.
But, if you choose to live with high expectations of a God who is still eager to participate in a world in which he is deeply concerned about day-to-day life, then know this, there will come moments when we'll be forced to ask, "At what length do I want to keep God?" Because ultimately, the stiff-arm will inevitably become a form of idolatry, which is where many of us are in our prayer lives, because we use God for our purposes, plans, and agendas. And if we keep God at a distance, we can free ourselves from ever feeling like God could let us down again.
Call my faith small if you want, but today it is with hesitation that I choose to live with high expectations, and I have faith that God can do something with that.
What about you, do you have much experience in trying to keep God at a distance? Do you struggle to live with high expectations of God?