The Sky is Broken

I’m looking out the window.  As far as I can tell, it hasn’t happened yet.  It was supposed to happen at 6:09 AM but, because the skies are overcast, all that can be seen is a consistent colour of grey.  The weather app also said it would be sunny this AM.  I got wet riding my bike to Starbucks.  All this information is delivered to me via a reputable 5G network.  It is so reliable the provider boasts of 99.9% uptime.  I can only conclude the sky is broken.

The network is reliable.  The data must be reliable.  The sky must be broken.   No flaw in the logic there.

It is easy to confuse reliable with trustworthy.  Often, they do go hand in hand.  But not always.  If the oven timer is irregular and inaccurate resulting in burnt supper offerings, we learn it is not credible.  We know we can’t rely on it.

No one can just look at the timer on the oven and declare, “It is inaccurate.”  We learn the true nature of the timer from our experiences with it.  First, a casserole is a little too dark on top.  “Oh well,” we reason.  “I probably had the temperature a little too high.”  And then it happens again.  And again.  And again.  Ultimately, we have to test the timer against a known standard to definitively know its credibility.

When it comes to faith issues, most of us have experience in the reliability-trustworthy conundrum.  People in whom we placed our trust turned out to be unreliable.  Systems and beliefs which should have provided strength and comfort in times of stress are unsatisfying.  It is my sad experience that most people who are disillusioned with their faith arrive at that conclusion because they have expected trustworthiness in the wrong things.  If we are unable to determine what is broken - is it the timer or the oven - we will draw inaccurate conclusions and consequently make unhelpful adjustments.  Like abandon faith.

 The only way to be certain our faith is trustworthy is to confirm it with a known standard.  That may include talking to people who are reliable, but they can’t be the only data source.  People, like oven timers, are prone to being unreliable from time to time.  Fortunately, we do have trustworthy standards for observing the trustworthiness of God.  Here are three “known standards” that help us focus on what is truly trustworthy instead of what may be just usually reliable.

ONE:  Sunrises and sunsets.  Even when you can’t see them (like this morning), we know they are there.  Errors in weather apps do not redefine the nature of God’s created order.  The lights in the sky, be it the sun, moon, stars, or planets, are evidence of a Creator.  The regularity and predictability with which they spin and cycle are evidence of the Creator’s trustworthiness.  We can predict future celestial events hundreds of years into the future.  We can’t even guess the price of gas tomorrow.  Read Psalm 8.

TWO:  History.  Not ancient Roman or Mesopotamian history, but our own personal history.  The fingerprints of God are much more obvious in hindsight.  There will still be some events that leave us hurt and confused.  We don’t (yet) fully understand God’s purposes.  But there will also be a significant number of events where God’s engagement is obvious.  The same grace that we saw back then is still at work now.  This is trustworthy.  God’s grace is never absent although at times we may struggle to observe it.  Read Job 42:1-6 (for bonus points, read chapter 40 first).

THREE:  Words matter.  Don’t view Scripture as a technical service manual for faith understood only by the licensed spiritual mechanics (pastors).  Granted, some of the words are hard to understand.  But they were recorded for us so God, in all His love, grace, and wisdom, may be known by us.  The human dilemma has not changed.  The God who oversees all of His creation has not changed.  Read Lamentations 3.

No, seriously.  Please take the time today to go back and read those three texts.  

A significant life-faith skill is being able to separate what is reliable from what is trustworthy.  We need both.  We need to be able to discern between them.  Even when the weather apps are wrong, people disappoint, and our expectations are completely destroyed, God is still and always faithful.

Read Habakkuk 3:16-19.  The sky isn’t broken.

Oh, look.  The sun is starting to peek through, and the ground is drying up.  The sun never stopped shining.  God never stopped caring.  My perceptions need to be tweaked against a known standard - the faithfulness of God.

Graham Bulmer
Lead Pastor
Graham and Sharon Bulmer bring many years of pastoral, teaching, leadership development and administrative experience to the Q50 Community Church plant. They served in Latin America as missionaries for almost 15 years, and have pastored here in Canada.