The concept is simple, really. You colored in between the lines of this special paper (or drew your own design) until you got it just how you wanted it. Then you put them in the oven at a certain temperature and watched them bake. I can still remember watching as the edges began to curl, and how excited that made me. Then, little by little, they shrunk down. By the time they came out of the oven, the Shrinky Dinks were drastically smaller and tough. No more flimsy paper. They felt more like hard plastic.
More specifically, the Shrinky Dink process is similar to what happens in our perception of God. We take this God-template, we color Him in how we want Him, and then when we put that perception under a little bit of heat, what happens?
Our understanding of Him begins to shrink under the pressure heat.
Questions like "Why do bad things happen in the world?" and "God, why aren't you pulling through for me?" move from doubts to something else entirely, a stumbling ground, as they heat up the perception of God we have in our hearts and minds. And suddenly, our view of God and His power, His love, His sovereignty begins to get smaller. And smaller. Until our hearts become hardened in the heat.
Here's the thing. God Himself is constant and sure. We're the ones who are changing. But how do we manage to remain flexible under the heat of life's oven? How do we keep our view of God and His ability from shrinking?
We must examine our hearts and ask if we only know a "shrinking" perception of God, or if we know the real thing. A genuine relationship with Christ will not bend under the heat. That's not to say doubts and challenges will not come. But God will pull you through those things, and you'll come out of it in awe of His grandeur rather than doubting His ability.
(More like those dinosaur capsules that expand in the water.--Sorry, couldn't resist!)
So how do we move from a "shrinking" perception of God to one where, as the Bible says, we can "rise on eagles' wings"?
1) Pray and read the Bible continually. Seems we all struggle at one point or another with making the time and having the self-discipline to do this regularly. But why should God reveal Himself further to us when we haven't even invested ourselves in knowing what He's already spoken?
2) Listen for the Spirit's voice in our hearts and lives. Sometimes I get really anxious, usually about dumb things. And this little whisper inside my heart says, Give it to Me. I love you, and I care about this thing that matters so much to your heart. You can trust Me.
3) Surrender to the sufficiency of grace. What this all comes down to is a faith issue. When I find myself doubting God's ability to handle a particular situation, and when I find I'm trying to take care of everything on my own, I realize the problem is faith. The problem is surrendering. For faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen." Our attempts to control all the circumstances of our lives instead of giving them over to God are what should be shrinking.
4) Let go. When things heat up in our lives, it's actually a great opportunity to see what's shriveling up and what remains. Because God's love and truth and grace will always remain. Try to see trials, and even just difficult situations, as opportunities to grow and weed out those things you've been holding on to that you probably shouldn't be. Maybe they're misperceptions about God, or about yourself. Learn to let go of these things.
Have you ever found yourself feeling like your faith in God's ability just keeps dwindling? What has He done in your life to show you the greatness of His sufficiency? Do you have anything else to add to this list?