Our highest aspirations about God are puny, and we are incapable of housing the fullness of who He is. Our highest thoughts are still not His thoughts. So it is important that we not place God in the box of our own experiences.
Take the area of healing for example:
Does God heal people? YES! The scriptures are full of instances where God healed people, but here is where I differ with some who believe that physical healing took place only in biblical days. Present day healing is one of the ways that Jesus presents himself as alive today. If He was dead, nothing would happen. Healing occurs in the name of Jesus and the timing and place of healing is determined by God...not man.
Experiences are powerful. Some of us, including me, have experienced God's healing power in dramatic ways. In the past, I suffered with migraine headaches, and God healed me.
On another occasion, while I was on a mission trip in Costa Rica, God touched my achilles tendon. I had ruptured it weeks earlier and it had been surgically repaired. But in order to lead my youth group on the trip, I decided to cut the second cast off early. Once arriving in country and walking everywhere, I began to experience tremendous pain. The group began praying for me and the pain was instantly removed. I never had pain in that chilles again.
Regardless of whether or not I had been healed, I would still believe that God heals people.
I have also seen and experienced the opposite. We have all known precious Christians who were not healed here on earth. Recently, I learned of the death of a dear friend after a tremendous struggle with cancer. She believed God to the very end of her life. She was a wonderful believer, full of faith and trust!
Angie and I also experienced the death of our first daughter. Despite our prayers for healing, God had a bigger and better healing in mind. That experience did not make us bitter or cynical about God's healing power. We still believe that God heals people physically today.
Because experiences are so powerful, we are often tempted to make a doctrine out of an experience! This is very dangerous. We can even make our experience speak into the scriptures rather than let the scriptures speak into our experience.
Some people say that if you have faith, you will receive a physical healing. Let's talk about the word faith - the literal meaning of the word is trust.
If I trust God for healing, will I receive it? Yes, but the place and timing is up to God. Read Hebrews 11. It tells of miraculous answers to prayer while on earth. But the latter portion of the chapter also tells of people who equally trusted God but did not receive what God had promised them. All of them trusted God, yet there were some who did not receive the promises while on earth. Verse 39 tells us that these people were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had something better for them.
Did you hear that - they were commended for their faith!
Some would say, “Yeah, Darren. That was before Jesus came and died on the cross”. Doesn't the cross ensure that we can receive healing on earth, every time?
The author of Hebrews wrote the book after Jesus had come to earth, died, was resurrected and ascended back to heaven. Yet, he points out the fact that not all received what was promised. He was writing to believers post-resurrection to let them know that God will not live inside a box.
Listen, the blessing is in trusting - the confident reliance upon God. Hebrews says that without trusting God, it is impossible to please him.
Trust God and leave the timing of the results to him. Don't fear. Earth is not the ultimate experience for us. If we only knew what was waiting for us, we would not want to cling so dearly to this life.
Paul said, I'm torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Philippians 1:23-24 NLT
God won’t live in a box of our own creation. Be careful to avoid the carefully created scriptural boxes too.
He is too wonderful, too immense, too glorious, to fit inside the box.