“There is nothing easier than getting into the right relationship with God, unless it is not God you seek, but only what He can give you. If you have only come as far as asking God for things, you have never come to the point of understanding what surrender really means. And instantly God puts His finger on the reason–you are not seeking the Lord at all; you are seeking something for yourself.” — Oswald Chambers, from My Utmost for His Highest.
These past few uncomfortable days, have brought me to prayerfully question my motives for getting alone with God. I’ve found out the hard way that “what comes out of a man is what makes him ‘unclean’…for from within men’s hearts come …deceit…arrogance and folly.” – Mark 7:21-22
My deceitful, arrogant, shameful folly being that even just yesterday I approached His throne with an ulterior motive: writing content. I sought My Lord for what I could get out of Him, not just for Him.
If my confession is too ugly for you to keep reading, trust me I understand. I’m still fighting a gag-reflex when I look at my journal and pen, knowing my pursuit of God has been almost unrecognizably smudged with selfish ink. Yet, my subconscious found a way to justify it “I’m writing about God. That’s a good and right desire, to write so people will encounter Him.” Well, yes. But, God is not my genie in a bottle, and how dare I approach Him as such.
Remember the young man in Mark 10, when he asked Jesus what he must do to enter eternal life? Jesus “looked at him and loved him and said ‘One thing you lack. Go sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in Heaven. Then, come, follow me.'” I bet the guy felt so unloved in this moment, so confused and angry. Perhaps he was mad at himself for his unwillingness to unclench the fist clutching his possessions.
On the surface level, it’s impossible to see the kindness in Jesus’ command. He appears as a thief desiring to steal from the young man the very things he loves. But realize that the things this man loves are exactly what kept him from experiencing the greatest love story of all. Jesus tells him to sell his possessions because Jesus knows they are holding him hostage. Wealth and riches bound this man tightly to a fleeting and fallen world, what slavery. Had the man sold it all, Jesus is all he would have left.
Jesus tested this man’s willingness to follow Him wherever and whatever the cost; and in the desert void of writing content, I’ve been tested. I’ve been shown that my fists aren’t clenching Jesus, but my pen. So, when Jesus didn’t respond to me with a brilliant, jaw-dropping new blog idea, I may have left my time with Him a bit disappointed. What a shame to think I left unsatisfied because I was seeking satisfaction in what I could get from Jesus and not seeking satisfaction in Jesus alone.
If you’re a Christian writer, artist, pre-med major, petroleum engineer intern, or stay-at-home mom, I’m sure you’ve felt the sting of realizing your own misplaced desires or perhaps your self-seeking heart. It’s pretty unbecoming, to say the least. But, these realizations, short comings and victories are all part of the sanctification process taking place eternally within us. We have merely to recognize, repent and run onward toward and beside Jesus, pursuing Him for Him, not for content or for blessings or spiritual gain.
Because, as Oswald Chambers says, “Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not the answer.”
God desires bent knees and open hands. He desires intimacy and closeness. He desires to know us in the innermost parts. He is jealous for you and for me, no gifts, talents, or strings attached, just us. So, if you want, join me in asking for His Spirit to transform us, to bring our souls to the point of joyfully proclaiming, “The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for Him,” Lamentations 3:24. When you’re alone with Him, or in your car, babysitting or at your desk, speak to Your Lord these words, with confidence that He will hear you and He will move on your behalf:
“Turn my heart toward your statutes, and not toward selfish gain. Turn my eyes away from worthless things…” -Psalm 119: 36-37
Press forward, refusing to identify yourself by your content or work or failures or accomplishments or blessings. Throw away the idols in your life, set a flame to them and set yourself at Jesus’ feet, where you gain far more than the world has to offer.