Do you ever make assumptions? A long time ago when I was in school in photography, I gave myself an assignment to take photographs at a local daycare center. I wanted to know the kids, so I volunteered for a quarter. The first day I took some snap shots. I felt so sorry for one little girl because the front of her head was shaved and she had a huge incision/scar across her scalp, obviously the marks of major surgery. She was a pitiful looking girl looking very sad and hurting. I continued to visit the pre-school and take photographs. Later in the class I spread out my photographs to organize them, and the first print of the little girl was put next to another photograph taken a week later, almost the exact same spot and exact same standing pose. The difference, however, was striking: in the second picture the girl was smiling and happy and full of life. In the first picture I had assumed the girl was sad and hurting because of her surgery, but as soon as I saw the pictures together, I realized she wasn’t sad at all. In the second picture she was happy and relaxed because she knew me by that time. I never felt sorry for her again, and learned a lesson in making assumptions. She was a normal little girl.
Do you ever make assumptions. What other people are thinking, what they would want. You know what is even more dangerous: making assumptions about God. People assign to God all sorts of motivations and thoughts. A loving God would not _________. If God were good he would not ______________. I had a funeral this week in which the man that died hadn’t been to a funeral himself in 18 years because he’d had a granddaughter die of SIDS. He told his family he felt abandoned and betrayed by God and he never got over it. Assumptions about God. I had a friend in h.s. that honestly believed he could drink and party on Friday nights because all he had to do was ask for forgiveness. Plug the right words into the right slot. Assumptions about God.
We have been talking about the characteristics of God. To know God is to know who God is, what he’s like. When I am with families preparing for funerals, I always ask about the character of the person: what makes them laugh, cry, excited, angry… the same questions need to be asked about God…what makes God laugh, cry, excited, angry….Don’t make assumptions.
The good news is that God speaks. How do you know God, the same way you get to know other people: listen. Read his word. Invite his Holy Spirit. I like what Job says about the place of God’s word in his life: “I have treasured the words of [God’s] mouth more than my necessary food” (23:12). More important than food.
The Bible is unique, coming directly from God: 2 Tim 3:16-17 (NLT) All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.
How easy to make assumptions about God, yet we need to let him speak for himself. When that man’s granddaughter died of SIDS 18 years ago, he may have felt abandoned by God, it’s understandable, but I believe, God was crying with that man right alongside him. That’s the God I know, the God that allows suffering, but does not like it. The Bible tells us what makes God cry, what makes God laugh, what God is passionate about.
The Bible is inspired, the Bible is consistent, the Bible is alive: Hebrews 4:12: “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two edged sword…” Reading the Bible will change your life: praying in the Spirit will transform you…The word of God is an authority, it is enduring. I’d like to end with a wonderful verse from Psalm 110:105…
Your word is a lamp to guide my feet
and a light for my path.
You cannot imagine a flashlight as the equivalent, you have to think more in terms of a hurricane lamp. In those days, a lamp to guide a person walking in dark would cast a circle in front of the person. You could see as far as the circle, and step into the light of that circle. Each step only being able to see as far as the next circle, till you get safely to your destination. At the beginning of the journey, you cannot see the end, but by having a light to illuminate the next few feet, the follower of Jesus Christ will make it to the end. We don’t always understand where the Lord is taking us, but as we listen, he will tell us what we need to know when we need to know it. Your word, Lord, is like a lamp to my feet.
Making assumptions about God is dangerous, for all sorts of wild imaginations will overtake us, but the Lord speaks to us, illuminating our way with his words so that we can see just far enough in front of us, that we will arrive safely to the end.