We live our lives assessing how much of a return we've gotten on our investments.
If you are on the world’s system, that is a fine way to live. Review, assess, make a pros-vs-cons list and then step cautiously into a decision.
But if you have God…well…His system doesn’t work this way.
In God’s system, reviewing, assessing and making a pros-vs-cons list is all fine and dandy. The problem is that it only takes in to account what we see and can anticipate. And generally speaking, God is far beyond anything we can dream up in our wildest dreams, let alone anticipate in a particular situation.
God is looking for obedience. And not just begrudging obedience. He is looking for the obedience of a willing heart.
God promises to reward obedience. It says in Isaiah 1:19: If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land.
But here is the caveat: God often asks us to do things that are crazy in the world’s system.
We like our God in a box, don’t we? We like to think that God has the rules of social interaction, economic success and common sense in mind when He asks us to do something.
And what we fail to see time and time again is that when we walk out our faith according to the worlds rules, we miss God.
We miss Him. We miss God because we think, “SURELY God’s would never ask me to do THAT!”
I know its really scary for some people to see in print that God “asks” us to do something. Just so we are clear, I don’t literally hear God speak to me from the sky. I’ve never had Him write His message in a neon sign along the freeway. He’s never drawn me any pictures in the fog on my window or left little notes in my morning e-mail.
He just puts stuff on my heart.
How do I know its God stuff?
Well…for starters, its not stuff that I would normally come up with on my own. And then it becomes a persistent thought that I cannot get out of my head or feeling in my gut that I have to follow.
For me, at least, these are tell-tale signs. One, because I’m rational to a fault and rely heavily on what I see and know. And, two, because I am a person of tremendous focus and if I don’t want to think about something, I don’t think about it. So, these “out there” thoughts that won’t leave me are not like me.
As with all things that involve humans, I could be listening to God and being obedient in His will, but there is no guarantee that other parties involved are doing the same.
The risk in such a situation is high. I might be asked do something that is way outside of socially acceptable behavior, or at least outside of my comfort zone.
Being who I am, feel excessively exposed when I put myself out there…what if I look like a fool? Or a stalker? What if I appear needy? What if I get zero back on my investment? What if I’m ostracized?
What if? Good question. All these worries and fears, while nice in a worldy sense, don’t exactly set me up to see God move in a mighty way through me. In fact, they just keep God in the box I’ve created for Him.
Maybe God doesn’t move in the way we hope and expect because we cannot think of Him outside the box we’ve built to contain Him.
Maybe God doesn’t move in the way we hope and expect because WE don’t move the way HE hopes and expects.
Let me tell you a great story.
I met a woman over the phone a few weeks ago. She was working for a volunteer organization doing background checks and I was listed as a reference on a volunteer’s application. We had a nice conversation about women’s Bible Study groups and some of the wonderful women we know. At the end of the conversation, she asked if she could call me again as she was embarking on leadership of a Bible study and thought perhaps we could share ideas and prayers.
I didn’t hear from her, but kept her number just in case.
A few days ago, I got a random thought “you should call her.” Because it would be socially odd for me to call her, out of the blue, I pushed the thought aside. Over the next couple of days, the idea I should call her entered my mind repeatedly. Each time I would flip open my planner, it would open to the page that had her number attached on a sticky.
Driving home one evening, the feeling was so strong that I fished my planner out of my bag while sitting at a stop light and flipped it open to find the number. And, of course, the planner opened to the exact page that had her number on a sticky.
She was right in the middle of a prayer to God to send her encouragement in a surprising way, a way she didn’t expect. An then here I was on the phone, asking her if I could pray with her, talking about some of her fears and anxieties.
Huh...a phone call. A simple phone call. And BOTH of us were reassured that God is good and right and that He has the desire to answer our prayers and meet our needs.
Through a phone call, He showed Himself mighty to her...and to me.
On the other side, I have put myself out there countless times to people. I probably have one time out of ten that it seems to actually work out. I usually feel like a complete idiot when the attempt fails. I probably look like an idiot too.
Which, I suppose, is the point, isn’t it?
His ways are not my ways…