Recently in church we had someone tell us a story. It was a true story about her parents. They were church planters all of their lives, and never saved for their retirement years. Whenever anyone would ask them about the wisdom of this plan, they would reply, “seek first His righteousness . . .and all these things will be given to you.” (Matthew 6) When they retired from church planting, the wife decided to teach school in her retirement. They looked for a house near her work, and found the perfect house for sale. However, they could not afford it.
As they were talking to the real estate agent, someone from a cell phone company happened to be canvassing the neighborhood to find people who were willing to have a cell phone tower in their back yard. Out here in Cali, they often make these towers look like fake palm trees. Of course, the family agreed to the tower tree, and they were able to buy the house. Later, another cell phone company approached them, and now they have two cell phone towers in their backyard. They call them “the money trees.”
This is a sweet story, is it not?
However. The theological conclusion that was delivered with this sweet story was this: God is faithful and works in mysterious ways to make circumstances good for people who trust Him.
The problem with that theological conclusion is that then the opposite of that statement needs to be false. But it is not.
God is faithful, yes. He works in mysterious ways, yes. He works out circumstances so that they are good for those that trust Him: sometimes.
I feel like this is dangerous to do in church, celebrate something like this, and not give some time to other, less straightforward stories about life with God. A story like this is next door to the truth about God. But it presents a warped picture of God and His people. Sometimes people are super faithful and trusting and God doesn’t work like this.
A serious percentage of the Psalms are not what you would call content. They cry out to a God that is working so mysteriously that His people are frustrated and lost. Sometimes they say something like, YET I will praise You, God. This means in spite of dire circumstances. If no cell phone towers had appeared, that couple probably still would have praised God, because they were faithful followers of His. But we don’t hear that kind of story very often. I feel like there should be a balance in church testimonies. The good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. It would be a much more honest reflection of the people of God’s experiences with Him.
What do you think, innerweb? Do you just love stories like the “money trees?” Or. . ?