A book I’ve been reading posed a whopper of a question: “If God were to remove one of your greatest sources of pain, what would you ask him to take?”
Now, this was not followed by another ill-fated health-and-wealth excursion, no tired treatise of living your best life now through positive thinking and self-actualization. The author was actually framing it as a teaser for heaven, one of whose rewards will be to wipe away every source of pain.
But when I read the question, I found myself applying it to my life here, on earth.
What would I ask God to take?
My mind riffled through any one of countless prayer requests, obstacles, and disappointments, both for myself and those closest to me. If I could pick only one, what would it be?
I know a handful of things I probably would have settled on, in years gone past.
Now, I wouldn’t pick any of them.
Instead, one goal now overrides the rest.
I would ask God to remove my inability to know his love.
Scripture and its teachers keep on telling us that we can find true purpose, joy, and safety only in God, but do we listen? Not particularly. We’re the stubborn teenager who just has to find things out for herself.
We look for satisfaction in being selected for projects and leadership. It lasts for an instant. Then we’re wondering why we didn’t get selected again, or whether we did well the first time. It crumbles to ash in our mouths.
We look for satisfaction in relationships. It lasts for an instant. Then we’re overanalyzing, navigating hurdles, finding ourselves in need of constant reassurance. It turns to sand in our hands.
We look for satisfaction in food, drink, or distraction. It lasts for an instant. Then we wake up to the consequences, sending much of it literally into the toilet.
I’ve tried these things, in varying degrees. I’m glad to say I’ve never committed any grievous sins in them. But there was one: thinking that they’d be better than God.
We don’t always wake up explicitly thinking “these things must be better than God”. It’s not that we high-ball the Other Things; we just low-ball God. It’s hard to cultivate a relationship with the unseen, so we gravitate towards the seen. And oftentimes, we find what we think is a “safe zone” within our Other Things (enjoying lots of food but not alcohol, seeking a godly marriage rather than just any marriage, looking to bring your talents to ministry rather than the corporate meat cleaver). It’s still not God. Not necessarily.
When God says he’s the source of life, he’s not being insecure. He’s not giving a big cosmic “you’ll get nothing else and like it”. He’s not being the psychotic parent who goes out and sabotages a daughter’s relationships so she’ll stay home. He’s rescuing us from disaster. As long as we build anything without his love as the foundation, it will collapse in on itself, taking us with it.
For that reason, and for his own glory, I really do want to know his love more than anything now. Seriously. He’s convinced me.
So I ask him to remove the barriers. He has erected none of them; they’re all of my own construction. But he can show us what they are, help us tear them down. All that’s left is beating the illusion, destroying the images of worldly goodness that crop up all around us, even good gifts that God has given us, or wishes to. They look so good. So we must endeavor to fill our minds with God instead. Meditation, Scripture, the spiritual disciplines…only then will he look good to us.
I’m glad you tuned in today. If you found this post to be of value, please feel free to share it on social media. Thanks a bunch!