Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Angry with God

Have you ever been angry with God? I have– on more than one occasion. 

When I was fresh out of seminary, I had grandiose visions of how I would reach the world for Jesus Christ. I would grow a church to thousands of people who would be reaching friends and family for Jesus on a regular basis. I received my first call to a church in Bismarck, ND, and I began planning how I would grow that church. The church had sold some of their property just before they extended a call to me and I was a little disappointed. I figured we would need that property for the growth we would experience. When I arrived, the church was averaging around 55-60 on Sunday mornings.

Over the next 6 years I prayed, provided outreach events, enhanced the Sunday morning worship, modified the church interior, discipled men in the church, added programs, and by the time I left, I had managed to grow the church to about 35-40 (and, no, I didn’t forget to add a zero to those numbers). I was angry. I was trying everything I could think of to serve the LORD and it seemed like He was working against me.

Let me introduce you to Uzzah. We find him in I Chronicles 13. David had recently conquered Jerusalem and wanted to bring the ark of God there where he had established his home. He took a newly constructed cart, which had never been used, as the vessel to carry the ark of God. A throng of Israelites rejoiced in a celebratory parade ahead of the ark of God. Lyres, harps, tambourines, cymbals, and trumpets echoed through the land; their melodies ringing forth praises to God and singers filling those notes with words of exaltation. The parade continued toward Jerusalem until the oxen pulling the cart stumbled. In a preemptive act, Uzzah, who was guiding the ark, stuck his hand out to steady the ark. The moment he did that, the LORD struck him dead.

Suddenly, the celebration stopped. Imagine that scene. The music, singing, dancing, the joy of the people as they move along the road and then all of sudden Uzzah drops dead and the party’s over. The musicians drop their instruments to their sides, the dancers' feet now rooted in the ground, and the singers stand with their mouths open but no sound.

Now I highly doubt Uzzah sought to dishonor the LORD by his act. It was more likely done out of ignorance than anything else. He was trying to do a good thing after all. He wanted to make sure the ark didn’t tip, fall, or get damaged. And David probably commissioned Uzzah for that post. David didn’t want anything to happen to the ark. But now Uzzah’s dead.

Listen to verse 11, “David was angry because of the LORD’s outburst against Uzzah.” Sound familiar? David had a great plan to honor and serve God. It was a good thing bringing the ark of God to Jerusalem, wasn’t it? Yet, Uzzah is dead and David is angry. David even named that place “Outburst against Uzzah.” How is that for letting something go? Every time he heard the name of that place he would be reminded of the time God didn’t meet his expectations.

David not only became angry, he became afraid of God. This was not a healthy fear of the LORD, but a fear that made David want to keep his distance from God. He ended up leaving the ark at the house of another man because he didn’t want to bring the ark to the City of David.

Isn’t David’s reaction a lot like ours when God doesn’t meet our expectations? We become angry and ultimate distance ourselves from God. When God doesn’t act as we expect Him to, we decide we better just keep our distance. Prayer and time in the word become minimal or irregular at best. And we name that incident in our life where we feel God let us down. “That’s where God let me down. I’ll never forget that place. 'Outburst against Scott,' I’ve called it.” And that moment can began to define our future relationship with the LORD and our life in general if we let it.

It would be three months before David came to a place in his life where he again wanted to bring the ark, and essentially God, close to home. What had changed? He realized that God didn’t hate him or even his plan. God wasn’t against him, but he had disobeyed God. He was trying to bring the ark to Jerusalem in his own way rather than in God’s way. The ark needed to be carried with poles by four priests. Men whom God had chosen for the priesthood. When David did it God’s way the procession went forth joyfully and without incident. Well, David’s wife, Michal, did have a little issue with how David celebrated the arrival of the ark, but that’s a story for another blog.

Are you angry with God right now? As a result, are you distancing yourself from Him? Take some time and read I Chronicles 13 and 15 and ask the LORD what He wants to teach you. Don’t keep the LORD away. Bring Him close to home.

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