Wednesday, June 20, 2012

God is good.

(A Wrestling Story, Part 3)

It is after wrestling through what it means to receive God’s love that I begin a new book, The Knowledge of the Holy by A.W. Tozer.  I bought the book a few years back and even tried to start it last year.  But it didn’t take.  Sometimes it’s like that for me with non-fiction books.  They always resurface at the right time—so, too with this one.  I look through my drawer of unread books and I pick it out as the book for now, because I think it is a good time to be reminded about what God is like.

As I begin reading, Tozer writes of the importance of a right understanding about God:

“That our idea of God correspond as nearly as possible to the true being of God is of immense importance to us.  Compared with our actual thoughts about Him, our creedal statements are of little consequence.  Our real idea of God may lie buried under the rubbish of conventional religious notions and may require an intelligent and vigorous search before it is finally unearthed and exposed for what it is.  Only after an ordeal of painful self-probing are we likely to discover what we actually believe about God.

A right conception of God is basic not only to the systematic theology but to practical Christian living as well.  It is to worship what the foundation is to the temple; where it is inadequate or out of plumb the whole structure must sooner or later collapse.  I believe there is scarcely an error in doctrine or a failure in applying Christian ethics that cannot be traced finally to imperfect and ignoble thoughts about God.” 
As I read, I underline this.  The next night, when I am ready to move on to the next chapter, I stop.  I reread this again.  I feel challenged that to get the most out of what Tozer is saying, I need to consider what it is that I really believe about God and wrestle with it.  I need to take the things that are not true and submit them to God, asking him to replace these with what is real.

An image of the father running to embrace the younger son, who has returned home, flashes across my mind.  The parable of the lost son.

This is who I believe God to be at least intellectually.  

Yet, as I consider the way I have been living lately, it is as though I must always busy myself with something to prove my worth.  Studying.  Connecting.  Serving.  Sacrificing.  I live as though by doing all these things, I will receive the good God has for me.  It seems to me that God’s best for me is always moving on to something bigger and better, something different from the way I am living now.  This is my default.

And my default?  It looks a lot more like the older son in the parable—the one who called what he did for the father “slaving away.”  I am the older brother slaving away bitterly for God in hopes of a good inheritance some day in the future—doing the right things, with the wrong heart.  Yikes!  What an ugly thing to discover.
Because the truth?  God is good.  And he withholds no good thing from me.  He is always working for my good.  He is always ready to embrace me when I recognize the condition of my heart and come to receive his love.  And it is never conditional on the things I have done. 

Here it is again, hiding in the middle of this heart battleground. 

Will you receive my love, Jessica? 

Will you receive that what you are doing each day—the dishes, the laundry, being in relationship with your family, with your friends, the way you interact with your neighbor—these are good thingsYou are not meant to be slaving away. 

You want to do something of purpose.  

Yet, you have opportunities every day that you do with such a bad attitude. 

You say that I am a good God.  But you live as though I am not.

You don’t need to do something new or different.

You need to live purposeful where you are today.

Remember the verse in Colossians 3?

“Whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
This is what you need to know—gratitude for your circumstances and worship in them.

So gently, he sets me free of my own expectations for myself.  I am not a slave.

He reminds me that small acts have great purpose.

Because each one is a chance to worship.

And that is enough.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we wrestle to discover what it is we really believe about God and give Him permission to teach us what is true.  May it lead to freedom.  May it lead to peace.  May it lead to purpose.  May it lead us to enjoy Him.

Jessica :)

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