Forgiveness changes things. In my previous post, I explained the struggle I have with even wanting forgiveness. Now that I recognize the great blessing of forgiveness, it has changed my relationship with God. It has changed my religion. It has changed my spirituality. It has changed why I do what I do for the Lord. Let me explain. [Read more…] about I’m Forgiven! Now What?
I have a confession to make. A while back, I realized I have a problem. I have a struggle with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Deep down, I haven’t really wanted forgiveness of my sins. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I have asked for forgiveness again and again and again, that is, if simply saying those words counts. But I realized that while saying those words, I had not really been asking for what God really offered. Please, let me explain.
What is your image of God? I don’t mean what is your Bible class answer to the question about who God is. I mean in those moments when your subconscious is guiding your actions and reactions to what is going on around you, what is your image of God? How does He behave? How does He treat you? If you’re like me, it is not always a great image.
“You shall have no other gods before me.”
YHWH’s words to the Israelites at the beginning of the 10 commandments. Though we are under the New Covenant and not the 10 commandments, God still deserves to be first. But is He? Do I have other gods before the true and living God? How would I know? Here are 6 questions to help you decide if you have something in the place of God.
Here is John Powell on our relationship with God. I was totally smacked down with this.
Each of us has a unique and very limited concept of God, and it is very often marked and distorted by human experience. Negative emotions, like fear, tend to wear out. The distorted image of a vengeful God will eventually nauseate and be rejected. Fear is a fragile bond of union, a brittle basis of religion.
Those who do not reject a distorted image of God will limp along in the shadow of a frown. They certainly will not love with their whole heart, soul, and mind. A fearsome, vengeful God is not lovable. There will never be any trust and repose in the loving arms of a kindly Father; there will never be any mystique of belonging to God. People who serve out of fear, without the realization of love, will try to bargain with God. They will do little things for God, make little offerings, say little prayers, and so on, to embezzle a place in heaven. Life and religion will be a chess game, hardly an affair of love.
(Why Am I Afraid to Love?: Overcoming Rejection and Indifference*, John Powell, Tabor Publishing, Allen, TX, 1982, pp 5, 8)
I guess it’s time to quit playing chess with God.
*Yes, that is an affiliate link. Here’s another one:
The other day I was having some real struggles. I was obsessing about some conversations that I had already had and some I needed to have. In my mind, I played the video over and again of the conversations. For those that I had already finished, I replayed the video with me saying different things trying to figure out if events would have gone differently if I had said something different. For the conversations I hadn’t yet had, I was playing the tape trying to figure out how to say the exact right thing so I could fix everything in those people, our relationships, and our congregation.
Obsessing over these things was messing up my night, interfering with my sleep. It was messing up my day, distracting me from the real work at hand. I knew I needed to stop the obsession. It wasn’t doing any good. It wasn’t living in reality. It wasn’t helping. In fact, it was hindering.
Then it hit me. I knew what my problem was. In my own little way, I was trying to take care of God’s job. It’s God’s job to fix things. Not mine. My job is simply to do the next right thing. For the conversations that were already completed, the right thing was to have those conversations. I had them. I had done my job. Now it is God’s job to work in my heart and in the hearts of the others to work out His glory. It isn’t my job to try to go back and make those conversations awesome so that I get the outcome I want. For the conversations yet to come, the right thing was to have those conversations. The right thing was to state my concerns but do so gently without being judgmental. The right thing was to listen attentively and show respect. I think I did all those things. It is God’s job to work in my heart and the heart of those I spoke with to prompt us to consider our own lives and whether we are glorifying Him.
What really hit me was that I’m not God. I can’t foresee the future. I can’t change the past. I’m not perfect. My words won’t be perfect. I won’t ever say the just right thing that makes everything work out just the right way all the time. When I’m obsessing over my conversations as if I can really make them perfect, I’m trying to be God. I don’t have to do that today. I can let Him do His job and I’ll just work on mine.
It reminds me of another incident a few weeks ago. I was invited to be part of a writing project, to which I whole-heartedly agreed. When the whole project was said and done, the editor and I had a disagreement about the use of two particular words. I stated my concerns and reasons why I thought the editor was making a mistake. But in the end, he was the editor. The project went to press his way, not mine. I was so upset. I called a friend to vent my frustration. He listened politely. He let me have my feelings, validating that I was allowed to feel that way. But then he encouraged me. He essentially said, “You know, Edwin, if God wants to use that project to help people, He can do it without having to use your words. You’ve done your job, trust Him to do His.”
WOW! What a concept. Let God do His job. I’m not God. I don’t have to do His job.
You know what. As I learn this lesson, I’m gaining some real freedom and serenity. There’s a lot of stress that comes with trying to do God’s job, stress I didn’t even realize I was carrying. Apparently, I’ve been trying to do God’s job a lot. Frankly, it is just too much for me.
So, today, I don’t have to be God. I’ll let Him do His job and I can rest easy, because I know He does a fine job without me and doesn’t need my council or advice.