Friday, March 28, 2008

I Asked God

Having spoken yesterday about the necessity of yielding every moment of life to God, I do have to add a caveat: extreme obsession with "what God wants me to do" can get a person into almost as much trouble as ignoring Him completely. Some Christians are so afraid of displeasing God that, like the children of overly strict or protective parents, they hardly dare make a move without His explicit permission. They ask Him every morning how many flakes of cereal they should pour into their bowls; they pray every day about the exact second they should leave for work.

Less extreme cases, or those who are less sure of their ability to hear God's answers clearly (I speak from personal experience here), agonize constantly over how they should spend every dollar of discretionary income and minute of discretionary time. Before making a decision, they fret about possible consequences; afterwards, they wonder for hours if they did the right thing. Keep this up for long, and life begins to feel more like the yoke of slavery Paul warned us against (Gal. 5:1-4) than the rest for our souls Christ promised (Mt. 11:28-30).

Actually, our desperate searches for God's will may not really be motivated by love for Him. We may, in fact, be in love with the orderly, well-planned lives, free of uncertainty, that we think will surely be ours if we get perfectly aligned with God. (Our seeking His instructions "desperately" rather than "eagerly" ought to be a clue.) To flawed and twisted human nature, even the pursuit of God's guidance can become an idol.

Paul said (Rom. 12:2) that the real secret to understanding God's perfect will is the renewing of our minds. Considering that this verse follows close after a worship passage (Rom. 11:33-36) that emphasizes God's "unsearchability" as well as His majesty, I doubt Paul expected that mental renewal to come primarily through "reasoning things out" (even on a Scriptural basis), or solely through asking God direct questions and acting on what we think we hear Him answer. Rather, we need to spend more time praising God for His own sake--worrying less about the details of daily life, but trusting, as said in Jude 24 (NIV) that He will "keep [us] from falling and [will] present [us] before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy."

I asked God if I was right or wrong
Over each little tiny thing,
And I fussed and fumed for a quick reply,
But it seemed no results to bring.
I lived in fear of some great mistake
Or some tiny unconscious sin,
And the load I bore only grew in weight
As I tossed my own fret-stones in.

I asked God why He would treat me so,
Why He seemed such a callous Guide,
And at last He spoke: "Is it Me you love,
Or the thought of a safe, smooth ride?
You have made an idol of certainty;
Will you trust Me to lead in dark?
Will you live by faith in My wisdom's grace,
Which will pilot you toward the mark?"

I asked God to help me seek Him first,
Not decisions or goals or rest,
That the glow of faith would burn strong enough,
As my heart sought to find His best,
That I would not waste time in worrying
If each move that I made was right,
But would fix my mind on His majesty--
And I found, step by step, His light.

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