Wanting What God Wants. Day nine...
My cousin Gary was the Missouri High School Rodeo Champion two times. As a younger wannabe cowboy myself, I looked forward to every opportunity I had to spend time with him.
When we were together, I wasn't interested in what I wanted to do. I was interested in what Gary wanted to do, because what he wanted to do was always better than anything I had in mind.
And it wasn't always fun and games, either. I remember one time when I was riding home with him late, late, late at night after a rodeo he'd entered. I was just sick sleepy, until I looked over at him—and realized he was in worse shape than I was.
Fearing for our lives, I convinced Gary that I should drive, even though I was a ways from being old enough to have a driver's license. There was nothing pleasant about the rest of that trip home, pulling a horse trailer behind a pickup in the middle of the night, but I didn't care because I got to be with my cousin.
There's an even better kind of fun than getting to be with a favorite person.
That kind of fun is getting to be with God. And God always has something better in mind than we do.
We don't have to wait for an invitation from God. He's always available to spend as much time with us as we want. But that's a hard sell for someone who has never experienced a working relationship with God, and even harder for someone who rarely, if ever, experiences His presence in times of worship and prayer.
Please note: I am purposefully distinguishing between having a working relationship with God and experiencing moments of emotional intimacy in God's presence. I'm not trying to play games with definitions, but there's a difference in the two.
Those moments of high levels of positive emotions can occur and usually do occur during worship and prayer. David demonstrates this in Psalm 34, for example:
I will praise the Lord at all times.
I will constantly speak his praises.
I will boast only in the Lord;
let all who are helpless take heart.
Come, let us tell of the Lord's greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him. (Psalm 34:1–7 NLT)
These are those sweet times when we are sort of self‐absorbed with God. It's just Him and us.
Of course, Jesus brings everything to the relationship except our consent and cooperation. (Even though He invites us to unload every burden on Him during moments of intimacy, we must give Him permission to do so.)
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28–30 NLT)
This is the romance part of our relationship with God. It is essential to our well‐being as Christians to romance Him, just as it is essential for a married couple to romance each other.
But there is more to a marriage than romance, and there is more to our relationship with God than just worship and prayer.
Good marriages are working relationships as well as love affairs. Lovers can't sit around all day and stare into each other's eyes; every once in a while somebody has to bring in some income, clean the toilet, and mow the grass. And while there's certainly nothing wrong with having a separation of duties, it's more fulfilling to work together when possible.
As an example, Sherrel and I are both good cooks. She doesn't need me to prepare a meal, and I don't need her. And we frequently prepare meals without each other's help—depending on our schedules. But it's always better when we fix dinner together. It's better for us as a couple, and the food is probably better as well.
Good relationships with God are both working relationships as well as love affairs. We can't be on our knees all day in prayer. We can't have our arms in the air continually in worship. Every once in a while somebody has to teach the nations, heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.
But while a separation of duties might work, to a degree, in a marriage, a separation of duties does not work in our relationship with God.
We simply can't do the necessary chores in our relationship with God on our own. We can't. Oh, we try. We've got programs out the wazoo to do the works of God without Him. And we do get results from those programs; but those results are also without Him.
Can you see the importance of being in a cooperative relationship with God?
It is in Him we live, and move, and have our being (see Acts 17:28a).
It's nearly impossible for those who find it difficult to experience intimacy with God to have a desire to do what He wants. But for those who have the desire… trying to do what He wants, without including Him in the process, makes a living hell out of serving Him.
There is a better way.
Have a good day,