10:00am…I might as well just tell you up-front…I am afraid this entry will be filled with mostly questions that I am not sure I can answer in one sitting. Actually, I am not sure I can ever answer them solidly. But maybe you have some better ideas than I do. Or maybe you have had some similar questions but have been unwilling to admit them to anyone ( or yourself, for that matter). So, let’s get on with it…
I read something a few days ago that has been haunting me. Mostly because it raises a really good point but I was left without a practical, real-life solution to remedy the question the author, Oswald Chambers, posed (using Jeremiah 14:5 “seekest thou great things for thyself?”). He asked, “are you seeking great things from God for yourself? God wants you in a closer relationship to Himself than receiving His gifts, He wants you to get to know HIM…there is nothing easier than getting into a right relationship with God except when it is not God Whom you want but only what He gives.” Ouch.
Basically, when God is viewed that way, our love for Him is Conditional-dependent on what He does or has done for us. Or what He has or hasn’t allowed to happen in our lives. That is childish (not to be confused with “child-like”). Think about it in human relationships. Do you feel valuable, cherished, loved for Who you ARE, if the only time your spouse or parents or children engage with you is when you give them something they want or are reminded of something you have already done for them?
Gratitude is important. And I believe we should always be thanking God for His good gifts, but I am struggling to think of how to connect with Him just because I love Him. When you can’t go to coffee or a movie or hear a band on a Saturday night, how do I “get to know Him?” Without reviewing what He has done for me in the past or asking Him to please do something on my “list” right now?
1:30pm…So, for the first time ever in my blog writing-I took a break and am finishing this up hours after I started. I needed to get away from home and think about this, so I went and worked out. I am not sure if the thoughts that came to me will help you, but they did help me to at least make a beginning of it (feel free to weigh in with your own ideas). On a side note, I about killed myself trying to type my ideas into my notes on my phone while on the Elliptical Machine at the Y.
Here are some obvious thoughts that have probably already occurred to you, but were helpful to me in sorting out my questions:
1) When my kids were little, they really didn’t care too much about “connecting” with me. They ultimately wanted to feel safe, be well-fed and sufficiently housed (which equals warm and stocked with toys). Most of why they felt love for me was a result of what I DID for them. As they have grown, that is beginning to change. Especially for my college student. He calls occasionally, but over the past 2 years it has become more about “checking in” about life and less about sending him money or stuff. Why is that?
Because he is maturing. Growing up. As I mature and “grow up” in my relationship with God, I start trusting Him not just because of what He does for me (even though, as with my own kids, we have a history of being cared for and receiving gifts) but because I love and trust Him. That’s how mature minds think. How mature relationships work. People, and God, don’t have to do stuff for us or give things to us in order for us to love them. Now, that makes sense to me.
2) Which leads me to this idea of Faith. I learn to have Faith in God, to trust and love Him even when I don’t get the answer I want. I love the example of Job (that dude from the bible that had every possible tragedy fall upon him), who tells his friends (who told him to “curse God and die” already) that he believed God would help him. But then he adds, “but even if He slays me, I will still praise Him.” When I trust God with the unknown, I show my love for Him is not conditional on me getting my way.
3) Lastly-at least as far as this entry is concerned, it hit me that there can be no love without SERVING. I can learn to love God selflessly when I ask Him to make me into the type of person (kind, compassionate, patient, tolerant, etc.) that demonstrates to others that I love Him and that I love them.
Asking for those types of things aren’t for me-they are to help me live out God’s greatest commandments…love God and love people. When I serve others and serve God (through my obedience to His ways), I give evidence that the relationship is not one-sided. It’s not about me getting or keeping what I want. Don’t get me wrong, asking Him in faith to answer all kinds of prayers is fabulous. Keep it up! I kicked Leukemia in the butt because many of you did just that! But try to push yourself further. Try to focus on growing up in your relationship with God. Loving Him In an unconditional, mature way.
I want to regularly ask myself if it is God that I want, or do I just want something from Him?