Today I realized that my single biggest problem is, I don’t really believe in God.
Oh, I believe He’s there. But do I believe that He really cares about me, that He intervenes in my life, that He brings change and healing and salvation? That He provides, cares, leads me to do what is right?
My mouth says yes; all too often, my actions say no. Hypocrite? Yep, tattoo it on my forehead—guilty as charged.
DC Talk’s unparalleled, groundbreaking album, Jesus Freak, features a between-songs quote by Brennan Manning: “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
I used to think that meant going to church on Sunday and then going home and doing drugs, or having sex outside of marriage, or swearing in public. This is what hypocritical meant to me when I first started walking with God.
These days, I find the biggest hypocrite inside my heart.
It’s the woman in me who sings on the praise team at her church most Sundays, then goes home and refuses to believe that God is Jehovah-Tsid-Kenu: “my Righteousness.”
The woman who reads her Bible every day but can’t seem to see God as Jehovah-Raah, “Shepherd.”
The woman who gets impatient in traffic, forgetting that God is Jehovah-Shalom, “my Peace.”
The woman who worries about spending money helping the poor (even though God’s pretty explicit all through the Bible regarding our responsibility to do so), blowing off the idea of God as Jehovah-Jirah, “Provider.”
What exactly do I believe about God?
Well, He loves me. He’s saved me.
And do I believe He intervenes in my life—that He heals, gives me peace, provides, protects? But if I do, why am I not living my life like I believe that?
I’ve found a giant disconnect between what the Bible says about God and what I say about God. Even though I have been witness to years of His faithfulness in my life. Is this the day He will let me down? I wonder. Is today the day I will find out it’s all been self-deception?
These are the questions we don’t like to ask ourselves. Especially if we’re standing up there almost every Sunday, proclaiming God’s love and goodness and mercy.
In an old film, Excalibur, a retelling of the legend of King Arthur, Merlin tells the king, “…it is the doom of men that they forget.” King Arthur responds by building a round table so he and his knights will remember their brave deeds.
Jesus asked us to remember—“Do this in remembrance of Me,” He said—I think because He knew how very quickly and readily we do forget. The Jewish people are amazingly good at remembering: they hold celebrations and festivals and solemn assemblies regularly, to mark the events of God’s intervention.
God knows we are frail. We are dust.
And that’s why we buy devotionals and books on how to pray and how to overcome and how to be a better Christian: because we forget. We need reminding. We need to read those passages over and over until they’re tattooed on the insides of our eyeballs: I have loved you with an everlasting love. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I rejoice over you with singing. Cast all your cares on [Me], for [I care] for you.
I am learning to record His faithfulness—to write down the myriad blessings, the little encouragements (and the big ones), the moments of miracle, the times when the everyday is driven back by the divine. Because I know that if I don’t, I will forget. (Well, I’m over 40; some days I need to look at my driver’s license to remember my name.)
What I love about God is how He never forgets. Even when we do. He tells us:
“Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” –Isaiah 49: 15-16
When I was in junior high, I used to write things I didn’t want to forget on my jeans. (Mom always managed to get the ink out in the wash.) But your name is written—tattooed—on God’s hand, and so is mine, and our names will never come off.
He will never forget. And if I remember, if I choose to review His faithfulness during those challenging moments when my faith teeters above a cliff of doubt, that record will show me the truth: no, He will never leave me, because He never has. He will never forsake me. He is all I need. And I can go and sing those songs and smile, knowing that I know my God and I know His truth.
Because I have seen the miracles, and they are still coming.