If your kids or grandkids have read “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” you probably know that the book’s main character, Greg, is a wimp.
Greg’s wimpy relationship with his family, friends and middle school classmates often gets him into trouble. Unfortunately, the creative antics he uses to escape his troubles often backfire.
Greg’s story strikes a familiar tone among God’s faithful, where some of us are living a wimpy faith. What’s a wimpy faith? A wimpy faith avoids tough questions by seeking shelter in simplistic answers.
As a hospital chaplain and retired military chaplain, I’m often privileged to see courageous faith from the front row. But sometimes I see interactions that look like something out of “Diary of a Wimpy Faith.”
I can almost always spot the wimps by their use of at least three “cliches.”
The first one is, “I never question God.”
If you tell me you never doubt God, I’ll call you a wimp because doubt takes more courage than certainty.
In fact, when I hear people claim that they don’t question God, I’m tempted to throw down the elementary schoolyard challenge: “What’s the matter? Are ya’ chicken?”
Don’t you think God can handle your puny doubts and criticisms? I encourage folks to stand up and shake their fist at God.
“Stop badmouthing God behind his back,” I tell them. “Go right up to God (wherever you talk to God) and say, ‘Hey, God! My life stinks!’ ”
He’s God. He can take it. Perhaps if the Paris terrorists had seen their God as strong, they wouldn’t have killed the innocent.
Another cliche wimps will use is, “Let me pray about that.”
When I was a pastor trying to recruit folks to teach a fifth-grade Sunday School class, parishioners would often say: “I don’t know, Pastor. Let me pray about that.”
Their “prayers” were a stalling technique to get me to ask someone else. They were wimping out.
My father-in-law is a retired pastor, but he rarely uses that phrase. When people ask him if he needs to pray about something before making a commitment, he often replies, “No, I’m all prayed up.”
His response reflects his constant prayerful relationship with God, so he’s usually pretty clear about where God wants him.
The third axiom of a wimpy faith is, “I’ve turned it over to God.”
That’s a helpful saying if you’re working the 12-step process for addiction recovery. It means you’ve taken the positive step of confessing your powerlessness before a problem and surrendered it to God.
But if you use the phrase because you’re too wimpy to face your problems, then you aren’t practicing faith. You’re playing roulette.
I often hear this cliche from people of faith as they face the gut-wrenching decision of disconnecting their loved ones from life support. Instead of facing the hard decision, they just back out of the hospital room telling the doctors, “We’ve left it up to God.”
I, and nearly every chaplain I’ve consulted on this, wants to scream, “If you were really leaving it up to God, you’d let us pull out the wires and tubes and let God do what he’ll do.”
At the end of the day, life throws us some amazingly complex questions, but as people of faith, we needn’t wimp out. The Apostle Paul said it best, “God has not given you a spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Tim. 1:7)
Next week, I’ll talk about the wimps that believe that they are suffering for their faith.