I really enjoy reading something that jogs my thinking and challenges my heart. This morning I picked up Daily Office by Peter Scazzero (a companion book to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality) and read John 7:3-8 where Jesus is getting pressure from his brothers to make himself known at the Feast of the Tabernacles. Jesus chooses to wait. Scazzero said, “Jesus moved slowly, not striving or rushing … He waited patiently for his Father’s time during his short ministry. Why is it then that we hate ‘slow’ when God appears to delight in it?”
For me, that is a great question! Those that know me would say that I get a LOT done. And quite frankly, I enjoy getting a lot done and I like to do it quickly. Hmmm …
Scazzero references Eugene Peterson to answer his question:
Why is it that we hate “slow” when God appears to delight in it?
- I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands of my time are proof to myself and to all who will notice, that I am important—so I develop a crowded schedule and harassed conditions. When others notice, they acknowledge my significance, and my vanity is fed.
- I am busy because I am lazy. I let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. It was a favorite theme of C.S. Lewis that only lazy people work hard. By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us.
As I was processing this, I think there is something deeper at work here. I believe that a third reason exists. I am busy because I am lonely. I fill my day with worthy causes so I don’t have to feel the pain of being alone. I’m more comfortable working alone than with others because I grew up in a context where work was valued over relationships. Standing and talking was not acceptable. Working and talking was somewhat better as long as it didn’t hinder the work. Working hard and putting all my concentration into the work was praised.
Yet, I know that we were created for relationship. Adam had his work but he still felt the pain of loneliness. So, God created a relational one for him.
Lord, help me search my heart. Make my head connect with my heart. Let my love for you praise YOU for the way I am made. Let me not seek busyness to “prove” myself. Instead let me embrace and rejoice in how you have knit me together. Let me not hide behind others, letting them do what YOU created me to do. Do not let my work fill the loneliness and replace relationships.
Lord, give me eyes to see and a heart to understand. Let me live more intentionally, connecting with you moment by moment throughout the day and hearing your heart and your love for everyone I meet.
“For Christ’s love compels us.” 2 Corinthians 5:14
Can you imagine being compelled by love?
It has been a difficult thing for me to come to the realization recently that for the majority of my life, what mostly compelled me in my day-to-day living was fear and anxiety. For 45 years of my life, fear and anxiety were the primary drivers of most everything I did. It’s what got me out of bed; got me to work on time; made me clean up the house; maintain my car; mow my lawn. “What would people think of me if I did not do those things?” is what I would subconsciously think. The sad thing is I was totally unaware I was living in this state of being … I simply called it life.
I became a believer in Christ at age 18. Unfortunately, this had little or no impact on me living out of fear and anxiety. If anything, it added to it. As a matter of fact, I thought as a Christian I should always have a low level of fear and anxiety about something (myself, my kids falling away from God, going into a life of sin, etc.). My thinking was, it’s unspiritual to not be living in some type of fear. Contentment may lead me to complacency. What other type of EFFECTIVE motivation is there but fear?
However, this constant, low-level fear and anxiety have taken a toll on me physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
But I missed it! For over 40 years of my walk with God … I missed it!!
- “An anxious heart weighs a man down.” Proverbs 12:25
- “Do not be anxious about anything.” Philippians 4:6
- “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life.” Matthew 6:25
- “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”Matthew 6:27
- “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow.” Matthew 6:34
- “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Luke 12:25
Living life primarily motivated by constant low-level fear and anxiety is not God’s intended plan. I have come to realize that LOVE is to be the primary motivator for the follower of Christ. Could you imagine? What gets us out of bed is LOVE? What gets us to work is LOVE? What gets me to mow my lawn is LOVE? What would have to happen in my heart for LOVE to replace fear as my primary motivator?
Something would have stir incredibly deeply in me, something that was more powerful than my fear. Can LOVE become more powerful than fear? When I actually look at how God interacted with many in the Bible, the answer is yes! LOVE in combination with a good measure of TRUST can overcome the greatest of fears. I can be motivated by love to trust, serve, follow, give, change—but I have to receive love from God, truly trust in his love, or it will never work.
Living life from a foundation of God’s unconditional love becomes a consistent, predictable motivator. His love is the only predictable aspect of my day.
I’ve been praying for a friend for the last 16 years. I’m praying for her salvation, for her to know the one who made her and loves her beyond measure and reason. She’s a dear friend of the family and several years ago she had a conversation with my dad about God and faith. She expressed curiosity and a longing to know if something more was out there, but she wasn’t convinced that it was actually worth pursuing; what would she find? My dad told her to just push on the door; if there’s a door in front of you, push on it and see what’s behind it. It can’t hurt to find out what’s behind the door. She has started hovering around the door a bit more lately, but is still tentative to actually press in. She and I had a recent conversation once again about faith and I reminded her of my dad’s words. I invited her to be brave because God can be trusted. “Just push on the door.”
In another conversation about two weeks later, I shared with a different friend about several decisions that I’ve been wrestling with. As we talked, I was surprised that when I slowed down to look at why I was having a tough time making some choices, there was fear underneath my indecision and immobility. Fear of failure and embarrassment, fear of being unproductive with my time, fear of being off track (okay, wrong) about what God actually wants. As we spoke I said, “I don’t often ask God very specific questions. I tend to be kind of vague and just say ‘Wonder what you’re up to God. I wonder what you think about this.’ I don’t ask him to actually show me things, to actually answer me.”
Standing outside my car door, my gentle friend smiled and said, “Because you’re afraid he won’t answer.” My eyes popped open wide and a grin fell across my face as I shook my head. Suddenly I saw it.
I, too, am afraid to push on the door. I, too, am afraid that he won’t be real enough, personal enough, invested enough, caring enough. The instincts in my heart that I can’t always see and name still influence how I see him. And I don’t always press in to find out that he is good and that he can be trusted, the very thing my heart most wants to know.
Friends who speak his truth, who remind me of who he really is and how he sees me, help me come back to his presence. And God himself never stops pursuing my heart. I have growing and learning to do, just like the precious friend for whom I pray. We both get a chance to push on the door and see more of who he is, how he loves, and what grace overcomes.
Desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I’m closer to where I started
Chasing after you
I’m falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I’ve held onto
I’m standing here until you make me move
I’m hanging by a moment here with you
Hanging By A Moment, LIFEHOUSE
I love the lyrics of this song. It is usually in my most desperate and exposed moments that he is most real to me. This thought doesn’t necessarily bring me comfort like it should. Those who are desperate seem so … needy. I definitely don’t like the sound of that; however, I can’t deny that this is usually when God shows up in the most prolific and profound ways. To me, this goes against my instincts. A God of perfection who wants to connect with the desperate and needy? Wouldn’t it make more sense for him to associate himself with those who have their act together? I don’t think that I’m the only one with this instinct. Our churches are filled with people who know they are saved by grace, yet continue to feel an inexplicable pressure to perform religious acts. Even though I have not completely shed my natural instinct, I am convinced that it has led me astray on this matter. A quick review of many of the Old and New Testament characters also confirms this. Maybe, just maybe, being desperate is a good thing. In fact, maybe it’s just the plain and simple reality of my situation, which I can be so reluctant to admit. I am desperately needy and God is patiently waiting for me to “let go of all I’ve held on to.” The freedom of the Gospel is actuated when I kick my false instincts to the curb and cry out to God saying, “I’m hanging by a moment here with you.”