Sometimes in life there are things we want very badly. They can be material things, to be sure. But a lot of times they are an emotional place we want to get to, a direction we want to take our life, a relationship we hope to strengthen. We are taught that if we will focus, work hard, train our sights on a goal and pursue it – then we will get it!
But is it possible to concentrate on getting something so much and so badly it starts to warp and twist us? I’d say so.
The problems begin to emerge, however, when a good thing becomes an ultimate thing. When a goal, or a want, becomes an idol – something we put in a place that only God belongs. This means we put our hope in it to bring life, satisfaction, joy, fulfillment. It can sound like this: “When I finally [BLANK], then I’ll feel like life is where it needs to be.” But this leaves us feeling bound up instead of free. We fixate on the thing we think we want and oftentimes find, when we get it, it doesn’t actually satisfy. I know, I’m an expert at making idols out of outcomes, and then being disappointed.
When this happens, I have discovered that perhaps the most powerful thing we can do is to completely let it go. There is an amazing, and at first wrenching freedom that comes from laying down our desires and submitting in trust to a loving God. When we believe with our actions, not just our words, that He desires what is best for us and that He will see it through, then we find peace. I have even experienced a physical releasing of tension and stress when I do this.
In the journey to discover what it means to “love God,” perhaps it starts with letting him love us – trusting him to lead us on the journey to freedom in ways we could never achieve ourselves. Sometimes we will indeed get those things we desired, but in a much healthier way. And sometimes, we’ll look back, like that cheesy old Garth Brooks song, and thank God for “unanswered prayers.”
God, we lay it down. Whatever “it” is, we lay it down. You are our sustainer and provider. You will lead us to still waters and green pastures. Not our will but yours be done. Do what you want with us – but we do ask, show us. You know the desires of our hearts. Untwist the twisted ones and align them with your will. And those things to which you have called us, make the way clear, that we may see and pursue them with all vigor.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Joel & Jeff