I suppose my story about Os Guinness isn't as embarrassing as I thought it was yesterday. In any case, here's what happened.
At the end of the presentation, I stood in line to ask Mr. Guinness about the suffering of believers; that is, how to make sense of long, slow, soul-weathering pain in a person praying earnestly and walking in obedience.
I spread my hands resignedly. "I just don't understand why God would do this."
An affronted look sprang into his eyes, so quickly that I started a little. "No, no. God didn't do this. That's an atrocious view!"
Did the Os Guinness just tell me that my view of God is atrocious?
He went on to explain that God allows pain, but he is not afflicting us with it. Consistent with his character--his complete goodness--he walks with us through the suffering born of three things (a Nietzeschean list, interestingly enough): Our bodies, nature and other men.
Then, he sent me to "talk to Dr. Brown." Like, he really wanted me to talk to the guy. I was so embarrassed, in addition to the fact I don't like being told what to do by a person I don't know. I think I must've turned bright red when I protested weakly and Mr. Guinness offered to introduce me to him.
Flustered, I approached the first doctor-looking guy in the general direction Mr. Guinness pointed out.
"Hi. Are you Dr. Brown?"
The men proceeded to inform me, laughingly, that Dr. Brown was the bald man yonder.
I've been chewing on the realization that although I've been a Christian about eleven years, I've viewed God as a punisher over the last two years. That approach informed everything I did, right down to my unshakeable and unfulfillable need to always do things "right," no mistakes allowed.
Enlightening, indeed. What kind of beliefs about God do we harbor in our hearts that are contrary to his character as shown in the Bible? It's encouraging, in a way, to know that there is always growth in God--more opportunities to see how wide and deep and high is his love. Lately, I've questioned many things about the character of God. I almost feel guilty for asking questions in the first place, but many people I admire and trust have told me questions are normal and okay. God can handle our questions and misconceptions. Unlike me, he's not an easily offended human...
Until next time, dear reader. I hope this little anecdote afforded you a bit of entertainment. If you're reading this in the morning, have a beautiful day, and if you're reading this at night, have a restful night.
If you're reading this in the afternoon, well, I'm sorry--there's nothing I can do for you.