I’ll start this post by providing a disclaimer: for some, this post may be uncomfortable.
It was uncomfortable for me to receive this loving conviction this morning, but it was a necessary reality check.
Consider this post the B-side to all of the “He’s gonna bless you/Wait on Him/It’s Coming” posts of late.
Let’s start with the scripture…
Isaiah 43:16-24 MSG
[16-21] This is what God says, the God who builds a road right through the ocean, who carves a path through pounding waves, The God who summons horses and chariots and armies— they lie down and then can’t get up; they’re snuffed out like so many candles: “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands. Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’ —the coyotes and the buzzards—Because I provided water in the desert, rivers through the sun-baked earth, Drinking water for the people I chose, the people I made especially for myself, a people custom-made to praise me.
[22-24] “But you didn’t pay a bit of attention to me, Jacob. You so quickly tired of me, Israel. You wouldn’t even bring sheep for offerings in worship. You couldn’t be bothered with sacrifices. It wasn’t that I asked that much from you. I didn’t expect expensive presents. But you didn’t even do the minimum— so stingy with me, so closefisted. Yet you haven’t been stingy with your sins. You’ve been plenty generous with them—and I’m fed up.
Anyone else saying ouch, yet?
As I sought God in my quiet time this morning, pouring out my frustrations and needs and wants for what must be the millionth time, the Lord led me to this scripture.
As I read it, two things became clear to me.
1. God knows what I need. He knew before I asked and He is working things out for me even now. But I’ve been so self-absorbed, so focused on the job applications that were denied; the doors that were shut; the temporary circumstances around me that I’d fail to see the new connections He’d blessed me with; the new opportunities He was placing before me; and the BIGGER, BETTER plan that He has for me.
I bet I’m not alone in this. Sometimes we reach a point where the sum total of our woes appear to overwhelm us; they’re all we can think about. And instead of seeking the Blesser and the Way Maker, we begin looking only for His blessings and for a way to be made on our behalf.
We must never allow our temporary circumstances to cause us to take our eyes off of what’s important and Who is important. In fact, when I asked God this morning, “Well, what should I be thinking about? I feel like this is all I can see.” He took me to Matthew 6:25-34 (to remind me that indeed He is aware of my situation) and Philippians 4:8-9 (to tell me what I should be focused on). And then, as if to drive the point home of what order my priorities should be in, He reminded me of Matthew 6:33 again: SEEK. GOD. FIRST.
2. God isn’t an ATM. I cannot continue to go to Him, broken, seeking and desperate, taking withdrawal after withdrawal of his peace, reassurance, favor, and grace. The reality is, this is a relationship, a two-way street of give and take. Will it ever be balanced? No, I will never be as faithful as God nor is it possible to out-give Him. But He blesses and appreciates my effort.
The second part of the scripture above – “You did not even do the minimum” – really struck me. At a minimum, God wants us to take note of all He’s done for us. At a minimum, God wants us to say thank you, to give Him the worship and honor and glory and praise that He’s due. At a minimum, He wants us to at least look around, consider how our lives could be and praise Him like the God who has saved our raggedy behinds time after time after time. Like the God who made ways out of no way. Who healed us. Saved us. Protects Us. Calls us. Anoints and appoints us. AT A MINIMUM. Doesn’t that God – that all-knowing, all-powerful, all-present God – deserve the best worship we can give Him? And not our sloppy seconds. I’m guilty. Thinking I’m going to stay up for a few minutes longer to get my prayer and Bible time in after I’ve given my best and my all to my job, my kids, my husband, my house, and my own interests.
How dare I? I have not been giving God the minimum of what He’s due.
Lord, I repent. I am so sorry. Please forgive me.
This post isn’t for everyone. I know that. But I believe that there is someone like me who finds themselves weighed down with all the “stuff” in their lives: responsibilities, desires, wants, needs, even God-given dreams and visions. And we’re in a place where those things are now so all-consuming that even though we desire to get back to God, we don’t know the way back. We feel stuck, overwhelmed with a reality we no longer recognize or want.
If that’s you, know that the only things you need to do to reclaim the joy and peace that is rightfully ours through Christ Jesus are to repent for your selfish thoughts; receive God’s forgiveness; refocus on what He’s done (count your blessings! — perhaps literally!); and start giving God the worship and honor and praise that He’s due.
He’s a good God. He won’t hold it against us that we got lost, that we ended up in this “It’s All About Me” wasteland. And He won’t change His BIGGER, BETTER plans for us either. He’ll just keep loving us, blessing us, protecting us, and being the awesome God that He is.
We can praise that, can’t we? At a minimum?
I decided this morning, when I emerged from my prayer closet, that I’m taking back the joy and the peace that is mine. I’m shifting my focus from me to others and am committed to thanking God with each breath I take through my actions, thoughts and words.
He’s just that good.
It’s the least I can do.