Read Romans 8:28, 37-39
I recently wrote in a post that I was thankful that our God wants to be with us even through the messy process of trying to live for Him. I am starting to realize that doesn’t begin to cover the full extent of our Father’s want to be with us. Our Father wants to be with us through the process, and He also wants our entire lives to be a process. It’s through the processes of our faith (trying to get to some spiritual end) we grow, not through the final reward.
So often we get either really excited or really distracted trying to serve the Lord. Whichever way, we become too focused on doing all these things for God. Sometimes we do it to try to earn God’s love or make ourselves more worthy, while other times we just believe this is what we’re supposed to be doing. And then it’s a mad (and I mean frustrating and angry) scramble to get it done! When we become this obsessed with accomplishing godly things, we are so busy trying to get them done we don’t accomplish the one thing God wants from us: intimacy with Him.
To quote Bill Myers, “Seriously, what can I give Him that He cannot give Himself?… There is one thing: my friendship.” (The Jesus Experience, p.14) Do you ever wonder why God didn’t just make Adam and Eve perfect, incapable of sin? Our loving Father gave us the choice because He wanted us to love Him, and love is a conscious choice. Yes, God could have made us so we would always obey Him, but then we could never really love Him. Our Father wants us to love Him because He loves us.
Many people would counter this with: God loves all people, so shouldn’t we be out there trying our absolute hardest to witness to unbelievers about Him? Our Lord does care about us making disciples, but He cares about us too. He doesn’t save us and then immediately turn His attention to others. He wants what’s best for us, and He knows that we will only truly be fruitful in our faith if we’re in Him. That’s what will bring us His joy and peace. We are called to do the will of God, and God uses the process to grow us and show us Who He is. The reward can be an amazing blessing, but the process is usually more valuable to our Father. It is through the process we learn to love God. Our Father wants to have a father-child relationship with us, but a lot of us think He prefers devoted workers. God wants us, not some slaves.
Accepting how much God loves us and the process He wants to use to teach us to love Him will give these seemingly pointless, “means to an end” periods purpose and worth in your life. The time between the beginning and the end isn’t so tedious after all, and the little “inconveniences” of life start to make sense. By realizing our Father is using these common times just as much as the special times to complete His will, we start accepting that God is really in control of everything, and He is working out the things around us for our good. And as we see His love for us, we also begin to love and value the people around us, knowing God how much loves them too. The closer we grow to the Lord, the more we see the value and love He has given us. Value: priceless. Love: unconditional. And we can learn to love like that, to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Think about how Jesus hung out with His disciples (almost) every day throughout His ministry. These were ex-fishermen and ex-tax collectors, and Peter was still a zealot. These men weren’t anywhere close to perfect, just like us. But Jesus spent time with them through the process as they grew closer to Him and His Father. He didn’t want the most efficient, productive, skilled, or even mission-minded people; Jesus wanted them. Jesus wants us!
You see, our Father doesn’t want our lives to be stories of our hard work to accomplish great things for God; our stories are meant to be the process of growing closer and closer to our Father and inevitably becoming more and more of His reflection. Whether or not we reach that particular goal we’re striving for, our Father is still pleased with us. This encourages us to continue in Him because we are free to pursue our Father Who is so amazing and loves us so much without stressing over getting things done as quickly or perfectly as possible.
Think of all the people He led through long processes, some of whom never saw their goal achieved in this life. Jeremiah prophesied and preached for Israel to repent and was in a deep struggle for most of his life, but he was always in the Lord’s hands. Hosea was called to be a living example of how Israel abandoned the Lord by marrying a woman that would leave him repeatedly, but through this, God showed Hosea so much about His mercy, grace, and love for Israel. David was a shepherd, king’s attendant, warrior, fugitive, and king; and God guided him through it all. Daniel was a captive and servant in a pagan land looking forward and working to the day the Israelites could return. But he was so old by that point Daniel never returned. Simon waited patiently to see the Messiah, and God allowed him to see baby Jesus before he died. Moses lead the Israelites out of Egypt and in the desert but not into the Promised Land, and Abraham set the foundations for the Lord’s chosen people. The thing each of these individuals had in common is that our Father was with them every day, helping them and guiding them closer to His side, regardless of achievements.
Our Father wants to do life with us, not just to fulfill goals, but to lead us to Himself.
Lord, help all of us come to the place of taking all the goals, rewards, and accomplishments we are striving for and rolling them into Your hands. Please help us enjoy the process and value it like You do. Father, You have called us to love and follow You, simple. You haven’t called each of us to build missions and organizations and franchises and monopolies for You! You’ve only called us to do Your will and leave the results in Your hands! Thank You for this peace, joy, and freedom You give us when we trust You are in control of it all! You will put us where we need to be. You will show us what we need to do. We just need to have faith and say “yes.” This is how we are called to honor You with our lives! Thank You! Help us love You more, and let You be glorified. In Lord Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.
I admit that was a long read; here listen to this:
(Note: If you’re interested in learning more about living life with the Lord instead of just for Him, as described here, I would recommend reading Bill Myers’ book The Jesus Experience.)