Sure, we want God’s protection, His blessing, His wisdom; these are useful tools for bending life to our will. But God Himself? He is troublesome. He has His own will, one that is unclear to us and requires things from us. We don’t mind sitting in pews, or tuning to Christian radio in the car. But to be still and open our hearts to being changed by the Living God? To give up control? No thanks.
Is there any word modern man hates more than submission?
* * *
I just can’t make myself wake up for it. I’ve repeatedly promised myself first-thing-in-the-morning time with Jesus, in that quiet lull before our three children pile onto the master bed demanding breakfast. But so far, I cannot do it.
I want to give God my first moments. I love to linger long over Scripture, to worship, to pray… only, later in the day. Every time that early morning alarm rings, I hit snooze.
* * *
Hurting people fill this world. So some scoff at God. “Look at the misery,” they rant. “If God is real or if He cares, He wouldn’t allow this pain.” But pain itself is not a curse; it is nothing more than a symptom, a siren warning us: something is wrong.
Children born with CIPA, an inherited inability to feel physical pain, are “likely to injure or mutilate themselves without meaning to.” Sociopaths are characterized by their inability to empathize with the pain of others. Without the beacon of pain, problems fester in the darkness, undetected.
Yet we put God on criminal trial for allowing pain and sorrow. But it’s through pain that God graciously sounds an alarm, a symptom that shouts, “This world is rotting away! Set your hope on Me instead, and on Life that lasts!” But like my 5 a.m. alarm clock, we hit “snooze” and roll over, ignoring God just a little longer.
* * *
We’d rather numb uncomfortable symptoms than turn to our Healer. Give us painkillers and a nap, but don’t change our diets and lifestyles! Give us God’s protection and blessing, but don’t ask us to be changed by God Himself!
“All this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the LORD our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth.” Daniel 9:13
Who has time to give attention to God’s truth? We have laundry and work and bills and friends. We need that last hour of sleep. Who has time for the God who saves?
* * *
Christians, do you see it? If we want to fully live like children of the Most High God, we don’t need better strategies and resources. It’s simple: we need to actually want God.
We don’t need a five step plan towards morning quiet times, or a three point path towards generosity. We need a new heart.
In life, we make room for everything we cherish most. Can we admit that we aren’t cherishing God? Every joy should make us laugh with Him, and every loss should make us long for a day when only the eternal and unshakable remain. Can we repent and admit this isn’t true in our lives?
Then, can we be still with the Spirit and let Him change us? Can we bend to the control He already has? After all, submission might be the most needed word for modern man. Through submission, God teaches our hearts to want and enjoy Him.