4. Your arms are too short to box with God. Don't try it!
Several years ago, there was a Broadway theatrical performance called, "Your Arm's Too Short to Box with God." I didn't see it, but I agree with the premise behind the title. The human intellectual apparatus is pitifully ill-equipped to argue with the Creator. New Age followers don't agree. They say each of us can become gods in our own right by zoning in on a crystal and sitting cross-legged until our toes go to sleep. How presumptuous!
In a wonderful recorded sermon delivered by author Frank Peretti, he mocked the mumbo jumbo advice of New Agers on their journey to omnipotence. Frank asked us to picture Shirley MacLaine (who has in recent years become the High Priestess of the Weird) on a lonely beach somewhere. "Listen carefully, and you will hear her talking to the earth—or the moon—or somebody. She draws circles in the sand with her big toe and says in a squeaky voice, 'I...am god! I...am god!" Sure you are, and I'm Julius Caesar.
No, we human beings hardly qualify as gods—even piddly ones. Despite our intense efforts to understand ourselves, we have learned very little about living together harmoniously or even what makes us tick. The best trained and most respected secular psychologists and psychiatrists still believe that man is basically good—that he only learns to do evil from society. If that were true, surely there would be at least one culture somewhere in the world where selfishness, dishonesty, and violence have not shown up. Instead, the history of human experience down through the millennia is the history of warfare—and murder and greed and exploitation. "Peace" is what we call that brief moment between wars when people stop to reload. And Plato said, "Only dead men have seen an end to war." He has been proved correct down across some 2,500 years. You might also take a good look at your children. How can anyone who has raised a toddler fail to recognize that rebellion, selfishness and aggression do not have to be cultivated. Kids come by it quite naturally. Thus, this most basic characteristic of human nature has been overlooked by those specifically trained to observe it.
Similar error riddles much of what we think and believe. Many scientific textbooks of 75 years ago seem like joke books today. Physicians in that era were still leeching people to "drain out the poisons." Even when I was in graduate school we were taught that humans had 48 chromosomes (the number is 46) and that Down's syndrome was caused by congenital influences (it is caused by one of several genetic anomalies). Certainly, we have learned much from the explosion of research and scientific investigation. I'm not disparaging that effort. I am saying that most of what was believed in ages past was palpably wrong. Could it be that we are living today in the first period in human history when nearly everything we have concluded is accurate? No chance!
This is the point made earlier: If human intelligence and perception are undependable in assessing everyday reality, which can be seen, touched, heard, tasted, and smelled, how much less capable is it of evaluating the unfathomable God of the universe? Our efforts to encapsulate and comprehend Him are equally as futile. We can only delve so far into the infinite mind of the Maker before we run out of marbles. Still, the arrogance of mankind in ignoring or challenging the wisdom of the Almighty is shocking at times.
A story is told about the British general Bernard (Monty) Montgomery, who had a notoriously large ego. He was giving a speech one day in which he related a conversation between Moses and God. Montgomery said, "As God pointed out to Moses—and I think rightly so—" I'm sure the Lord was relieved to hear that Monty approved of His advice to Moses. Other examples of man's arrogance are not so humorous, such as the notion that the genius of creation simply evolved over time, with no design and no Designer. The Lord must marvel at the stupidity of that idea. I've also wondered how He feels about the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling that the Ten Commandments cannot be posted on a public school bulletin board.
Job tried to question God and was given a rather pointed history lesson in response. Note especially the first sentence from the mouth of the Lord.
Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone—while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? (Job 38:2-7)
God continued that discourse until Job got his mind straight, and then the Lord added these words, "Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!" (Job 40:2). Job got the message. He replied, "I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more" (Job 40:4-5).
There have been a few times in my life when I've made the same mistake as Job, demanding answers from God. One such occasion is a source of embarrassment to me today. It is too personal to relate in detail, except to say there was something I wanted the Lord to do for me that I thought I needed very badly. It seemed in keeping with His Word, and I set out to assure that my prayer was answered. I prayed every day for weeks, begging God to grant this request that seemed to be so significant. I was literally on my face before Him during this time of petition. Nevertheless, He clearly said no! He didn't explain or apologize. He simply shut the door. At first I was hurt, and then I became angry. I knew better, but I was tempted to say with sarcasm, "Would it have been too troublesome for You to have taken a moment from Your busy day to hear the cry of your servant?" I did not utter these words, but I couldn't help what I felt. And I felt abandoned.
Well, two years went by and my circumstances changed radically. The matter that I had prayed about began to look very different. Ultimately I realized that it would have been most unfortunate if the Lord had granted my request in that instance. He loved me enough to turn me down, even when I was demanding my own way.
Others have also lived to regret what they had asked for. I knew a teenage girl who fell madly in love with an adolescent Romeo and pleaded with God to turn his heart in her direction. The petition was flatly denied. Thirty-five years later when their paths crossed again, she was shocked to see that the gorgeous hunk of masculinity she remembered had turned into an unmotivated, paunchy, middle-aged bore. She recalled her youthful prayer and whispered ever so quietly, "Thank you, Lord!"
Admittedly, most of our spiritual frustrations do not end with an enlightened, "Oh, now I see what You were doing, Lord!" We just have to file them under the heading, "Things I Don't Understand," and leave it there. In those instances, we should be thankful that He does what is best for us whether or not it contradicts our wishes. Even a reasonably good parent sometimes says "no" to a child's demands.
I've been trying to say with this discussion that our view of God is too small—that His power and His wisdom cannot even be imagined by us mortals. He is not just "the man upstairs" or "the great chauffeur in the sky," or some kind of Wizard who will do a dance for those who make the right noises. We dare not trivialize the One about whom it is written,
Praise be to you, OLord, God of our father Israel, from everlasting to everlasting. Yours, OLord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, OLord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name. (1Chronicles 29:10-13)
If we truly understood the majesty of this Lord and the depth of His love for us, we would certainly accept those times when He defies human logic and sensibilities. Indeed, that is what we must do. Expect confusing experiences to occur along the way. Welcome them as friends—as opportunities for your faith to grow. Hold fast to your faith, without which it is impossible to please Him. Never let yourself succumb to the "betrayal barrier," which is Satan's most effective tool against us. Instead, store away your questions for a lengthy conversation on the other side, and then press on toward the mark. Any other approach is foolhardy—because your arms are too short to box with God.