Ever heard psalmists and David Crowder sing unabashedly of God being “everything they need” and wondered, What on earth are they talking about?
One of the chief comforts of Scripture when we are disappointed, discouraged, or heartbroken, is that the Christian’s highest goal is not that dream or achievement or milepost you’ve fallen short of, but knowing God. Making him your peace, your joy, your contentment, your soul’s richest food and water. He, the Bible tells us repeatedly, is the only thing that will truly ever satisfy.
But you might have noticed it doesn’t just drop in with the mail.
Where is it then, God? Where are you?
Or as a friend put it recently, “Why can’t I appropriate for myself what God has promised me?”
We know God is faithful. His side of the deal is inerrant and unfailing; there is no lie or failure with him.
Is the problem with us?
Here’s what I’ve come to understand on my own trail: God is offering grace and life, but we must choose to accept it. Otherwise, we will not experience them.
Why aren’t we letting him?
Again, I can only speak for myself, but perhaps this will help.
This entire planet is about wilderness, but God is about manna. The journey of life is not a matter of finding our way out of the wilderness but finding the manna inside the wilderness.
It’s more of that truth – how God brings us life in the midst of pain, and only then do we find that it’s that life we’ve always been searching for without realizing it.
But part of me read that article and got mad.
Not about singleness, necessarily (though that was the context), because I’ve come to identify the true enemies of my soul and realized that marriage doesn’t stand a chance of defeating them. (What an awful pressure to put on a wife anyway. Come, Lord Jesus.)
But I was mad nonetheless.
No, it said. I don’t want that. I don’t want the manna. I’m tired of the manna, endless years of it. Enough of the consolation prizes. I want the Jordan. I want the Promised Land. I want the struggle to be over and to stop having to be strong all the time and keep fighting and fighting and just receive the rewards of my obedience already!
Lord, forgive me.
This narrow, dark posture, riddled with theological errors, is probably more responsible for my struggles than anything else. The problem is one of direction, not distance: I’m looking for the Jordan in the wrong place.
And as long as I keep demanding that breakthrough of God, refusing to accept any form of help except the end of all toil, I will not experience what God is offering. I will not experience him.
That isn’t meant to be a debate about God’s sovereignty and what doors he can or cannot kick down. The simple fact is, most of humanity is living at any given moment without any true peace and joy, and we know God is not the problem.
Our refusal to accept any form of blessing, breakthrough, or deliverance except an end to hard circumstances is often the very thing that makes those circumstances so trying. We could be ironclad. We could be bound up in serenity, confidence, and truth no matter what we go through, as Psalm 23 promises.
But if a part of our heart is digging its heels in with (if we’re really honest) “I’m not going to feel better until God fixes things”…well, then it will be quite correct.
We must choose to accept the grace he is holding out.
Sounds like a massive guilt trip – get with the program and make God your everything, fool. But the last thing I want is to kick anyone while they’re down. Partially because then I’d also have to kick myself and the needed contortions would land me at the chiropractor’s.
No, Scripture is making an invitation. An invitation to taste and see that knowing God really is a wonderful thing.
Don’t taste just to “get the lesson over with”. That doesn’t work. You won’t trust your motives, and God certainly knows better.
Accept his grace with no expectation of anything else.
That’s hard to do. It will reveal the tentacles of idolatry in your heart, will require a great swallowing of your pride and surrendering of your desires.
But there is no greater act of faith than to do just that. It doesn’t mean God doesn’t care. It just means you’re choosing to believe his word at a deeper level than ever before – that he is our greatest love.
And though I am only just beginning to understand his love myself, I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed.
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