Smart Ass: Be Careful What You Wish For
It is not uncommon in the community of faith to find those who wish for “signs and wonders,” by which they may more clearly know the will of God in their lives. Indeed, if you have been a Christian very long, it is very likely you’ve wished–even pleaded–for this. Consider:
- What career should I pursue, Lord?
- Are you calling me to ministry?
- Is this the person you want me to marry?
- Should we really move all the way across the country for that job?
- Are we really going to lose the house?
- Won’t you intervene, God, in this health crisis?
- Will my child ever turn back to you?
- Why is this happening to me?
People that are very dear to me strongly believe that God answers them, quite directly, when they inquire of Him in this way. Who am I to say that He does not?
Yet great theologians, like Jonathan Edwards, caution against such thinking:
“And yet some people actually imagine that the revelation in God’s Word is not enough to meet our needs. They think that God from time to time carries on an actual conversation with them, chatting with them, satisfying their doubts, testifying to His love for them, promising them support and blessings. As a result, their emotions soar; they are full of bubbling joy that is mixed with self-confidence and a high opinion of themselves. The foundation for these feelings, however, does not lie within the Bible itself, but instead rests on the sudden creations of their imaginations. These people are clearly deluded. God’s Word is for all of us and each of us; He does not need to give particular messages to particular people.”
― Jonathan Edwards
Here’s the rub. Can God deliver a custom message to someone? Yep! But if we’re the someone, do we really want to receive it? Maybe not so much. Consider the moronic and very pagan prophet, Balaam, who in Numbers 22 is met 3 times by God trying to tell him something. Balaam can’t figure out it’s the Almighty communicating. We learn that Balaam’s ass is smarter that his owner. The donkey is finally empowered to yell at his abusive boss.
Good thing we’re never as headstrong as Balaam, isn’t it?
Or are we?
Edwards questions those “particular messages” from God that promise support and blessings. But what if the Divine Message is of a less-uplifting kind? What if God is speaking to us in the events of our lives, even the negative ones?
Are we listening?
Engage here. What do you think? Anyone in your life that needs to confront their Balaam?
photo credit: Mário Tomé via photopin cc
Do you have a source in Edwards works for the above quote? I have basically been accused of making it up. SO I’d like to know where in Edwards works it can be found. Thanks,
Thanks for engaging here. The quote comes from Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/75887.Jonathan_Edwards), but is not attributed to a particular book, unfortunately. I went ahead and used their quote because Edwards writings resonate and are congruent with the quotation cited. Especially in his Religious Affections, pages 124-126. Here he speaks about the tendency some people have to deceptions that come from too vivid imaginations.
I’ll continue to search for the book this quote comes from. I hope this helps, at least a little.