. . .
Last summer, I remember reading a line from Francis Chan's book Crazy Love that really popped out at me:
Do we only love God because of His stuff?
I don't like feeling bad. Nobody does, but I really, really don't like it. I place a lot of emphasis on how I feel, or how things make me feel, to perceive the world around me. So, when I feel bad or negatively towards something, it can potentially make that whole area of my life seem darker and worse than it really is. And, seeing how I'm normally pretty mellow and laid-back, that's not a state of mind I like being in.
However, sometimes that happens so frequently that I get used to it and subconsciously accept it. Lately, God has been reminding me that I don't have to accept that, because He's set me free of all that stuff that burdens me and weighs me down. And that's great!! Praise God! But also, lately these past few months, I've noticed that's become a bigger and bigger reason for me going to God - to change how I feel, not God Himself.
That might be kind of confusing, so I'll try to state it this way: I think I've been going after God's gifts and God's promises, not going after God alone because of who He is. I want peace in my life. God offers peace. So, I go to God to get that peace, and once I have it, I just go back to what I'm doing. Maybe later I want love, or joy. God offers both. I go to God, get me some joy, then go back to my life. Then later I want something else God offers - courage, maybe. Then self-control. Goodness. Mercy, etc. And there's nothing wrong with asking for those things; they are the fruit of the Spirit, after all. But, it shouldn't be what our entire relationship with God consists of. Here's why:
You'll be paranoid of those moments when you feel that joy/peace/whatever-it-is-you-got-from-God slipping away. Even when feel good, you'll dread feeling bad. In a sense, you'll be a slave to yourself because you'll be controlled by your desire to experience those gifts. They become idols. You may still be close to God, but there is a loss in sincerity, since, basically, you're just there for His stuff. God's totally aware of it too; He lets this stuff happen as a wake-up call to ourselves. God cannot be mocked; He'll make sure you get the consequences that your actions deserve, both good and bad (Galatians 6:7).You'll live in fear of not getting what you ask for, or worse ... loosing it.
So here's a question:
Would you still chase God, even if He never gave you the things you asked for?Obviously, it's a hypothetical question, but would you? I asked myself this a little while back, and I realized with the mindset I had and the way I was thinking, my answer would be no. I need to desire God for God. Not love Him because of what He's done or what He does for me, but for who He is. When we come to this point, our problems and situations and feelings won't matter. We won't be focusing on them anymore. We will all have our eyes fixed on Jesus, and He'll be all we need. All I need - whether He makes me feel good about it or not. :)
So I encourage you, lay down whatever that thing is, whatever you keep going to God for and leaving Him after you get it. Give it up. Ask God to change your heart. Ask Him to help you see that that feeling, thing, idea or even person, doesn't matter anywhere near as much as God matters. He is above all and in all (Ephesians 4:6). And He is the one who should have your heart - not the gifts He gives us out of His mercy, love and grace. So be strong. Leave those things behind. Pursue God. And remember, He is faithful and knows your heart. He'll supply your every need (Philippians 4:19). But, you must seek God first - and you second.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. -Matthew 6:33 (emphasis mine)