As we consider our conversational relationship with God, you may be asking yourself “What can I do to make this happen?” “What is the magical formula for that special me to God connection?”
Have you ever known someone who wanted to do something to bring about a result but their “worker bee” attitude was not bringing about results? It happens all the time I believe.
I once had a friend who was a church hopper. He told everyone he was a Christian. He was, to all who knew him, a good man. He did good works. He would help you if you had a problem. Yet he was in a perpetual search for the right church with the right pastor who could guide him to his right relationship with Jesus.
I know of a woman who ticks off her list. She has certain disciplines she does in her days of the week and she has her “faith” list. She makes sure she ticks off the items on her list and she is rather open with others in telling them she has “done her list.”
I have another friend who is so knowledgeable about the Bible. He can quote entire books of the Bible and has a deep understanding of the meaning of the Scriptures. When I am around him, I listen to his words and even look at his Bible. It is worn out. I can see evidence of his study in the cover and on the pages. I covet his knowledge and I even covet his Bible.
What is my shortcut? Are there cliff notes for the Bible? Do I need to find a way to “antique” my Bible, giving it the “well-read” look?
Dr. Willard speaks of all these matters in his comments about Mark 9, when the Disciples failed to drive out a demon from a man. They bring him to Jesus and Jesus drives the demon out with a command. They ask Jesus why they cannot do this and he said “This kind can only come out through prayer.” Yet Jesus did not pray; he commanded.
What is the purpose of this story in the Bible?
We want results if we are working our way toward something. Are you desiring to get a word from God? Do this and this and this and you will get it. Are you desiring to be healed? Do this and this and this and you will be healed. Do you want to go to heaven? Do this and this and this and you will make it.
I wish it was that easy.
Dr. Willard says “If we are to exercise the Word and rule of God in a way regarded as spectacular by human beings….there will be nothing forced or hysterical about it and we can count on God Himself to lead us into whatever we are to do. He will do this in a way that is suitable for our lives and our calling.”
God knows what we need. God knows what we can handle. God knows where we are in our relationship with Him and there is nothing we can do to “quick fix” this.
“When we consider a life of participation in God’s kingdom rule, we are not looking at anything that we must make happen. The extent of our obligation is to be honestly willing and eager to be made able.”
Think about what that quote means.
To me the heart of Dr. Willard’s thought is the phrase “honestly willing and eager.”
We have to be willing to go where God wants us to go. We have to be willing to do what He wants us to do. We have to act when He wants us to act.
I don’t mean that all quests for a good church and a good preacher should be called off. I don’t mean that all disciplines should be discarded. I don’t mean that efforts at knowing the Bible should be suspended.
Just realize that God will grow you the way that is best for you and His idea of what you need may not be yours.
There is a very trite expression that you hear from time to time: “go with the flow.”
Can you “go with the flow” with God? Dr. Willard writes of the woman who searched and search for a deep relationship with God but she failed. She was angry about her failure and had adjusted to a life of “being a good person”, going to church and helping others. With anger at God as her side item. He writes of another women who sought a deeper relationship with God only to be rebuffed by her friends. They classified her as a “second-class citizen” because she did not experience what they were experiencing. She switched denominations.
These people were forcing God.
Can we do that? Really?
This brings me back to my opening question: “What can I do?”