November 05, 2012

Why God Likes Faith

Matthew 11:1-6

John … sent his disciples to ask [Jesus], “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”
—Matthew 11:2-3


God seems to enjoy playing hard-to-get. Instead of making his presence obvious to his people, God seems to prefer working behind the scenes in ordinary events, yielding only occasional hints of his glory.

Over the centuries God’s hide-and-seek game has made for some challenges for people who believed in him. Think of the Israelites’ difficulty in following their invisible God. Or think of the New Testament heroes of faith. In today’s verses John the Baptist asks his followers to check with Jesus: Is he ­really the one God promised to send? Sometimes I think that if God were a lot more obvious, he could expect us to be a lot more “faith-full.”

And yet—is that true? One of God’s biggest decisions was to allow us to make our own decisions. Granted, this can have troubling results—look what happened to Adam and Eve! But you can’t have a relationship without some freedom of will. If I forced someone into my car, I wouldn’t have a companion—I’d have a hostage. And as much as God abhors the disastrous choices his people have made, his deepest desire is to call us friends (see John 15:15).

This is why it takes some squinting to find God. While he sometimes miraculously calms our storms, he more often hints his presence to us—just enough to make us squint and see that he’s really there. If we seek, we’re told, we will find. Have you seen him lately?

Lord, help us to seek you, for we know we will find you and you will calm our anxious spirits. Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at

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