Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Why I Quit "Helping" God {God is God}

The dog greeted me warmly at the door. I left her loose while I was gone because there was no food out and how much trouble could she get into? I carried the tired toddler into the kitchen and was greeted warmly once more.

By a completely annihilated box of Honey Nut Cheerios. What would possess an animal to jump onto a kitchen table and destroy a box and bag, only to consume a few handfuls of cereal? Yet there lay the accusing debris. As a mother of four with a dirty house, you could imagine my delight.

I set down the kid and reached for the broom. In moments, tiny fingers laid hold of the handle and her words formed, "Mm how. Mm how."

To a foreigner that would mean nothing. To my mother ears it rang clearly, "I help. I help."

I released the broom into her eager hands and watched as she toddled around the kitchen, spreading the cardboard, plastic, crumbs and other junk pell-mell over the linoleum. As a mother of four with a dirty house, you could imagine my delight.

This is precisely why I've quit helping God. I'm as effective as a 1 year old with a broom.

Pray, proclaim, fight, obey, serve, love, forgive, follow. All those things I remember being instructed by God through His word.

"Help me out." Not so much.

Teach, baptize, tell, give, bring, watch, repent.  Those words too come to mind.

"Do me a favor." Not that one.

I'd like to think the absence of those phrases would eliminate the notion from our brains, but I can say from experience that isn't the case. It's tempting to feel some degree of awesomeness in performing a task on behalf of God. Like God must really delight in me, check out this daughter of His I am helping. Check out this hurting brother I am feeding. Feed and clothe the least of these- I'm doing this for you, God.

But the truth is, God doesn't need my help. He's not a frazzled parent, relinquishing His broom to a bossy toddler.

God is in charge. And that's the case always.

So, what's the big difference? What's the big deal if I feel like I'm doing an act to help God or if I'm doing it to help my neighbor? It's precisely this- who is in control?

If I am assuming the Lord is in need of my service, I have some claim to its outcome. Just a little glory, not much, if it all turns out great. I'll give Him most- just hoard a little of the glory to myself, if that's ok.

On the other hand, if it all comes crashing down around me I ask, "God, what did I do wrong?"

I don't want to crawl up onto His lap. I want to crawl up on His throne. I want to grab the reins, and the reign. Just for a moment. Just until He can handle this without me.

Maybe that's not how you think. Maybe you don't feel pressure to make someone believe. Maybe you are content to teach your children the way of the Lord without fretting over whether or not you are going to screw it up and send them to hell in a hand-basket.

Maybe you don't lose sleep over unbelieving family and friends. Or over the starving multitudes. Or the children sold into slavery. Maybe you are content to teach and follow and serve, and know your role.

I have a hard time with that. Overwhelmed with the problems of the world, I forget Whose shoulders can carry it all. I forget that when I visit the poor, teach the children, listen to the lonely, I am not doing God a favor. I am following Jesus where He leads. Nothing more. And I'm sinning all the while. I'm being an imperfect disciple in the hands of the perfect and almighty God, who doesn't need my help, but chooses to use me in His plan.

God delights in me because He created me. He delights in me because He redeemed me and made me His own. And my readiness or reluctance to serve in His name will not diminish or augment His love for me. He loves me because He is love.

Now, are there consequences to withholding my service? Of course. Serious ones even. The Bible is clear on that as well. But not because God needed me and now His plan is going to fall apart because I'm selfish. If that was the case, He would accomplish nothing because I am more often than not a selfish individual. Any glimmers of selflessness come as a result of His work in me.

So I've given up "helping" God. At least for now. I'm sure I'll fall back into the pattern again somewhere down the road and He'll have to remind me that He can handle this whole life thing all on His own and I'm His beloved child, chosen and set apart to work alongside Him, but never in place of Him. I was never meant to carry that load, and that's because He loves us too much to give me His job.

Follow. It's a simple enough command, though difficult in execution. Fight, baptize, proclaim, feed, repent, etc. are all acts that on their own are too complicated for me to accomplish without His power. There's no need to add "Be God" onto the list. So today I start with the simplest of words, Believe, which is a gift in itself, and all the rest will fall into place.

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Linking up today with the always fabulous, Simply Beth for Three Word Wednesday.