I am discovering my propensity to be safe may hinder me from God’s call.
I like to know I’m doing exactly the right thing, obeying all my authorities, pleasing God and man. I want to please God, and He has given me people, so I want to please them. But God is not after pleasure. He wants me to honor him. This is not a shallow behavior modification as a way to appease God. It means I lay down my life to serve God not because I am holy, but because he is holy.
God help me.
I want to serve the poor. I have a heart for orphans and daily I ask God to use me for his glory and I desire to live among the poor and offer his extravagant love to everyone I can, but I tend to start with my holiness, not his.
I am so focused on doing the right things in the eyes of man that when I wasn’t looking I became Job.
Job was successful. He was powerful. He served God, or so he thought. Then he lost it all, and he cried out to God, wondering, pleading, begging God. Why??I did everything right and yet here I am.”
I wonder what I would do in Job’s position. “God, I never partied! I dressed modestly! I didn’t date, I tried not to curse. I honored my parents. I was cautious. I was safe. I didn’t rock the boat. Why in the world has my life ended up like this, why must I endure such sorrow??”
I have the subconscious expectation that God rewards my obedience with an easy life- free from pain. And unfortunately, that’s not what the Bible, or Mother Teresa teaches us. She suffered greatly for the cause of Christ. She stood up against political and spiritual leadership and gently but firmly told them about God’s calling on her life. I am not that brave. I would much rather make everyone happy. I’m a Pharisee. I am Job to the core. But I am learning, slowly, that we do not love or obey because of the reward. We love because he first loved us. We serve because he served us. We sacrifice because he sacrificed his life for us. It’s simple, really. All we must do is be like Jesus.
It is in our suffering, in our every day death to self that we inch closer and closer to the cross, where there is no longer room for Sarah, but only for Jesus. I don’t want to do anything with these days he’s given me because it profits me. I only want to honor God. Not because of the feeling of pride for walking uprightly but simply because he is God and that is reason enough. At the end of Job, God finally answers Job’s cries in one of the most beautiful pieces of prose I have seen in the Bible.
God takes us through all of creation, asking Job over and over again if he is God, if he marches the stars out every night or if he casts the waves across the horizon? For two chapters God reminds Job of his humanity, and that his Holiness is nothing in comparison with ineffable majesty of God Almighty. Suddenly the light switches on for Job. In Job chapter 42, verses two through six he replies to God and I imagine he’s on his face weeping.
He says, “I get it. You are God. I am nothing compared to you. I only thought I knew you. My ears have heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”
So many of us have a religious experience with God. We have upheld his commands and we live on the safe side. We hope that one day our good credit score will amount to righteousness. But that’s not how it works. God does not require us to be holy because he’s a slave master in heaven who is pleased by our good deeds. He asks us to be holy because he is holy. We are obedient to God, not because we seek perfection, but because we seek intimacy. When I am living in sin, I’m so far from God, because my sin cannot abide in the presence of a holy God. But when I am walking uprightly, I am able to have intimacy with God, and it is no longer about my deeds, because I’m actually getting to know God and he gently and repeatedly reminds me that it’s not about my holiness, it’s all about him.
We are so in the dark until God breaks through our faux holiness and we see him for the first time. It’s not about me. It’s not about my keeping a list of rules. I will continue to live to a high standard and under the authority God has placed in my life but I’m not here because of my righteousness –I am here because of his righteousness. I will never be like Mother Teresa if I focus on myself. I will only be like Christ if I serve him and him alone, even if he leads me into places that require me to do things I’m not comfortable doing. It’s not about me. I’m just a pencil in the hand of an Almighty God.
“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone— while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy? “Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt’? “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it? The earth takes shape like clay under a seal; its features stand out like those of a garment. The wicked are denied their light, and their upraised arm is broken. “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep? Have the gates of death been shown to you? Have you seen the gates of the deepest darkness? Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth? Tell me, if you know all this.”
Job 38:4-18 NIV