Friday, January 21, 2011

Obligation vs. Desire

I distinctly remember the first time I tried to have a conversation with God. I was 6, maybe 7. We were running late, so my Mom had me finish up breakfast in the station wagon on the way to school. I was drinking orange juice out of my favorite Sesame Street glass, and as I finished I wanted more. As you can imagine, that wasn't going to happen on the ride to school. I really wanted more. "God, if you are real, fill up my orange juice glass with more juice." "God, if you really love me, fill up my juice glass, please?" I bet you can guess what happened.

That was the first time, as a child, that I remember asking God to do something for me. It was the first time I had a conversation (albeit one sided) with Him. It was different than praying, that I did everytime we ate and before bedtime. This was different. This was telling Him what I wanted, and waiting for a reply.

I have been a "Christian" since childhood. I went to parochial school from second grade 'till high school. I memorized many verses, read many bible stories, performed in many Christmas plays. We've always attended church, my parents raised us in a Christian home.

Here's the thing though, you can have all of that, and more, and still not have conversations with God.

My relationship with God has been a up and down one. I try to live my life the way He wants me to. Try is the operative word there, because as we all know we can have the best of intentions and still fall flat. I have felt that much of my relationship with my Creator as flat, one dimensional. Doing things just because you "should", not because you want to can leave you uninspired and feeling obligated. I felt obligated to God.

When God doesn't feel welcome, He doesn't force Himself in. He is the God of the universe, and we are but a speck in it. God will shine through cracks and show Himself in ways to remind us that we need Him, but He won't come in shouting demanding attention. He wants us to seek Him.

So when I walk around feeling obligated to Him, like I have to do these things to please him, how is that going to look to Him? Like I'm seeking Him? That I want Him around? Or that I'm just doing these things on auto-pilot because it's expected of me? Praying before eating, check. Making my monthly donation to church, check. Doing things out of obligation, when your heart isn't in the right place, is nothing but checking off boxes off a list.

But when I seek Him, things are different. When I am quiet and just listen, I can hear. When I clear out the junk in my head and open up space, I am making room for Him. When I desire to grow, to get out of my funk, to break patterns, to live for something other than myself, the obligation that I feel subsides.

God wants us to desire Him. He wants us to ask Him to come. He won't force us to submit to Him, that isn't how he works. He loves us enough to let us get to the place where we realize we need Him. He will let us go through our motions, our obligations, our flat places. He knows that in order for us to truly seek and ask for Him, we have to come to that decision ourselves.

Does that mean He won't court our hearts? No, He's courted me since I can remember. But God isn't like some overeager teenage boy fixated on me. He's not going to throw candy, love notes and flowers at me until he makes me like him. He's going to love me and pursue me as my heavenly father. Let me make mistakes, let me skin my knees, let me cry some. He's going to let me come to the decision to love him, not make me do it. He'll let me come to the realization that I need him, that I can't live another moment of my life without him. That it doesn't matter what I do in life if He's not alongside of me while I do it. That is the true love that God courts us with, and that is the true love that He wants from us.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

1 comment:

  1. I see your three most "precious treasures" at the top of your post. Sometimes we get so busy with our daily lives, we forget what's really important.
    Beautiful words, thanks so much for sharing.


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