As I was working with my daughter on her math lesson the other day, she taught me about a stumbling block on a spiritual level that I've experienced and watched others struggle with too.
The truth is simple: The goal of being taught is learning, that is, to grasp in practical terms the truth or skill we are being taught so we can turn around and use the skill or apply the truth.
And as I sat there explaining "part one plus part two equals whole; whole minus part one equals part two; whole minus part two equals part one" to my daughter, she assured me "Yeah, yeah, I get it. That's easy. 7+4=11; 11-4=7; 11-7=4." I worked through some slightly more complicated exercises with her, and as long as I was working with her, she got it.
But the structure of her lessons moves her from my teaching, to working together, to her working independently. And when she came to that step, I saw it. She asked me questions, but they weren't related to understanding the concept. They were relational-fishing questions. She was focused relationally, wanting to make sure I was still with her.
But exactly that became her place of insecurity: "Are you really here with me?" In order to master the skill, she had to know, to decide, in her gut that I am there and give herself to "part + part = whole." Otherwise, anything she would accomplish with math would be scraps of work, not learning.
And when I saw that, I saw so much of my own history with God. To be trained by God as effective builders of His kingdom, to work with Him in mission, we have to have it settled that He is with us. He is for us. We have to trust His love.
Joyce Meyer used to do this bit that drove home the point of accepting God's role in our relationship. She'd sit in a chair, and then say "So, what if someone came up to me and told me to sit down when I'm already sitting?" And she'd flail around trying to "sit more" in the chair. The point is, if you are positionally related to the chair (or to God) and then you start to question and doubt the basic fact and try to see if you can make it "more true" by "trying harder," well, it just gets impossibly silly. When you are sitting and someone tells you to sit, you assert the fact: I'm already seated. You do not give in to insecurity that questions the fact.
And yet this is a snare that grabs so many. We spend all our energy trying to get God to prove that He is listening, prove that He loves us, prove that we are good enough for Him.... all because we lack faith. God tells us that He is love (1 Jn. 4:8), that He loves the world and everyone in it (Jn. 3:16), and that He will never reject anyone who comes to Him (Jn. 6:37). These are the facts. We need to stop doubting them, and believe. We have to trust His love. We have to do business with God on His terms.
So many people believe it while they feel it, and when something happens to challenge their feeling, they lose "faith." Instead of losing faith, they need to be choosing faith.
Because to be trained by God we have to have it settled that He is with us. Then and only then do we even hear what He is trying to teach us when He is with us. He is teaching us skills and giving us experiences that He means for us to reproduce in love and service to others. But we have to grasp some basic things before our hearts are free to apply them to the real world with wisdom, as God desires us to.
God loves us, and He wants us to be firm in knowing it. But He also wants to teach us, because God loves everyone, and He calls us to take His love to others. And He wants not only to teach us, but for us to bring His love to others, once we get the skill He has desired to form in us.
Once a soul trusts Jesus, this is the trajectory on which He sends it.