Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Two spiritual traps

Here is a little spiritual cognitive therapy. There are a couple of ways of thinking that can prevent us from having a proper trust in God. The first is if we forget that we are born into a spiritual hospital; indeed, a spiritual ICU. So, we can expect things to look pretty ugly at times. That is why M. Scott Peck began The Road Less Traveled with the line, “Life is difficult.” If we think it is going to be easier than it really is, then we will often be disappointed and get mad at God and stop trusting him. We live in a vale of tears.

On the other hand, we also know that the therapy will be successful so long as we do not consciously and intentionally resist it.

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return not thither but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Is. 55:10-11)

The second way of thinking that can trip us up is to think that God is just waiting there for us to make some little error so he can zap us, as if we are walking on spiritual eggshells—just balanced on the precipice of damnation. This is especially a trap for those who have had an earthly father that is that way (and I have at times been that kind of father). God’s mercy is much greater than his wrath, which only lasts for a little bit, but his mercy endures forever.

The LORD is merciful and gracious,

slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

He will not always chide,

nor will he keep his anger for ever.

He does not deal with us according to our sins,

nor requite us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father pities his children,

so the LORD pities those who fear him. (Ps. 103:8-13)

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