Thursday, November 15, 2012
For when it feels hard to hold onto God
I have that syndrome where I start to think trying my best is how to stay connected to God.
A lot of people, books, church services, blog posts confirm that I just need to try harder. A bunch of those posts are my own, where I encourage us (myself included) to step up our game, spiritually. Memorize scripture. Open our ears and not just talk at God. Be prepared to share truth with those He puts in our lives. All good things.
But I start to think that's what it's all about. Like a spiritual Hokey Pokey. You do this, and you do that, and you shake it all about. That's how it works. I try really hard, therefore God and I get closer.
Church this past weekend had us evaluating where in our lives we need to be "relentless." Is it taking in God's word? Is it prayer? In other words, where in your life do you need to try harder?
And tonight, during a prayer time, God spoke to me about this. Yes, of course. Prayer, studying God's word, and teaching others are all good things that I should pursue with passion and intentionality. And I do. I try my best, but my version of relentless sort of stinks since I'm so annoyingly imperfect.
What I realized tonight is that God wins at relentless.
He is the one who relentlessly chases me. Not the other way around.
At church, we were talking about metaphorically being in the wilderness, those times where we find ourselves in trials, or just plain struggling to find our way. God sometimes places us in the wilderness. But I also considered the fact that we can run there, fleeing a problem in despair or panic, and it's not at all what God wants.
Yet even then, in His great kindness, He chases us.
He chased Hagar, who brought her son and herself to death's door by fleeing her trials and running to the wilderness. God said, "Hagar. WHAT are you doing? Go back. I'm with you." When she thought herself invisible, God said, "I see you." He tracks down even the best of runners. There is nowhere you can run to that God will not also go.
I fear we get so used to this notion of God being love that we forget He is also a hurricane. A lion. Has a voice like thunder and a will of steel. He is relentlessly in love with us, and His love is unstoppable.
He stalks the teenager who has fallen away from Him and thinks she can live life on her own.
He hunts down the brokenhearted. He finds even the best of hiders.
He burdens the overwhelmed mom until she opens her hands, surrenders control, and asks Him for help.
He disciplines the rebellious and the prideful, awaiting their return with open arms.
He allows trials to come in a seemingly unending series of waves, as he follows hard after us, wanting our whole hearts.
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis, before the children meet Aslan (the Lion who represents Jesus in the story), they are wary of meeting a lion face to face. They ask a friend, "Is he safe?" The friend replies, "No, of course he's not safe. But he is good."
Very well put, isn't it? Our God is anything but safe from our human point of view. He is unpredictable, counter-culture, radical, and relentless. Thankfully, He is also good and His goodness pervades all he does.
I suspect I start to think I'm in charge of my relationship with the Lord because of how I perceive it's origin; when giving my testimony, I talk about when I chose to invite Jesus into my heart, as if it were my clever idea that we get together in the first place. I forget that He invited me. The Bible says that we love because He first loved us.
We didn't choose Him. He chose us. The only thing I did was accept His invitation.
One of the most important things you can ever understand about God is that your love relationship was His idea, and that He will pursue you, chase after you, and stalk you with his invitation until you accept. Some people never do. I've heard it said that a person will either accept Jesus or stumble over Him his or her whole life. He is either your cornerstone or your stumbling stone. And saying "yes" only marks the beginning of experiencing His unstoppable love.
God's version of relentless makes my efforts at reaching Him seem so small and weak by comparison. But I also feel relief. I'm not the one holding us together. I can't accidentally ruin things between God and I. Frankly, I love that. Maybe because I feel like there is a whole lot of other stuff I can easily ruin.
But whenever I let go, He holds on.
Thank you, Lord.
Keep holding onto me, please. Tightly.
'Cause sometimes I'm not so great at relentless.
Labels: faith essentials