Camp talks are the best, aren’t they?
I’ll never forget one year, I heard a camp talk about the different characters we tend to see God as. One was that we sometimes see God as a genie (just there to grant our wishes). Another was that God is a teddy bear (we go to Him just when we need comfort). And then there was God-zilla. I’ll let your imagination define that one. There’s probably a time to talk about each of these, but I wanted to talk about one that sneaks up on us all too often--God as a police officer.
I remember learning about the omnipotence of God when I was a kid. Just the idea of God being able to be everywhere at once was crazy intimidating. “You mean no matter where I am, no matter what I do, He sees me?” I might be able to hide a mistake from my parents, but I couldn’t hide it from God.
I hate to admit this. But far too often, I'll process things from this perspective: “What negative impacts does this have on me?” The truth is that God seeing all my inadequacies and failures is not something I’m excited about. It makes me pretty sad. And compared to His perfection, I would think He gets tired pretty quickly of me.
In fact, I'd expect Him to start acting just like a police officer. He's seen me mess up enough. He knows the hurt my life and choices can cause others. Why wouldn't He just stay one step ahead of me and then shut me down before I cause more pain?
Psalm 103:10-11 says that, "He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him." God wasn't interested in creating humans so that he could patrol them. He wanted to show them forgiveness and see them mirror that same forgiveness to one another.
In fact, God does something significantly crazy: He uses His omnipotence for our good.
David talks about this in Psalm 139 saying, “I can never get away from your presence!... [Wherever I am,] your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” And I don't know about you, but I don't tend to just naturally think about this. I tend to revert to Policeman God. But if my gut doesn't accurately portray Him, I'm the only one in my way of knowing and experiencing Him more.
If you find yourself in a similar place, write this Scripture down. Memorize it. Keep bringing it back to remind you of what's really true, so that truth can guide your heart and mind.
God is not a police officer just waiting for you to mess up.
God is with you offering supernatural strength in every situation you face today.
What are you doing to make sense of your life?
We are all searching for something.
Some of us search for money.
Some of us search for someone to love us.
Some of us search for educational enlightenment.
Some of us search for peace.
Some of us search to hurt others like we’ve been hurt.
Some of us search for respect.
Some of us search for accomplishment.
No matter what it is that you search for, we are all looking for something to make sense of our place in the world that we live in. Things to answer the most basic of philosophical questions: Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? How am I to live the life I have?
There is a story told by the band Showbread in a concept album they came out with called Anorexia Nervosa that is a very unique take on the pursuits of man.
This story tells of two girls: Anorexia and Nervosa. Anorexia founds a hospital for children and tastes something sweet: Accomplishment. Accolade. Purpose. In it, she decides that what her life is missing is more and more of that. She decides that she must devote the rest of her life to building a tower to the heavens so that she will be remembered for the great things she has done. (If you were raised in Sunday School, this should be sounding just a bit familiar) After toiling her entire life for this goal, she realizes that her labor has been in vain. She cannot accomplish what she wanted to even though she has done everything possible.
Her sister Nervosa is quite the opposite. A prostitute by trade, she has decided that life has no purpose but to give yourself to everything offered to you. She decides to sink deeper and deeper into the ground by digging a pit to the center of the world. As she descends further and further, eventually, she has no way to return to the surface, and the earth swallows her up.
Crazy story, right? (I’ve left out lots of gory details for the sake of keeping it as G rated as possible)
But the genius in this story is in how it tells the story of humanity. In our pursuits to make sense of our life, we pursue one of two things: to be good enough or to do whatever we feel like. No matter how much good our lives amount to, it can’t add up to enough to be on par with a God who embodies the essence of what it means to be perfect, good, and perfectly good.
Giving yourself to things that feel good will accomplish exactly that: they will make you feel good. The problem comes in what happens after they make you feel good. You need more. You need something else. That must’ve not really been what makes you happy. As you descend further and further, those pursuits are worse than chasing the wind.
But the point of me retelling this story isn’t to get you to say, “Ah, I will never pursue either of those extremes.” The point of this is to inform your heart to its own deceit.
When you think you need to say something to that friend you’re just not sure about…
When you think you need to take matters into your own hands…
When you think this is what’s best for your family…
Your actions, if unchecked, are typically coming from one of these two extremes: trying to be good or giving into whatever feels good. Take a second. Notice the complexities of your heart. Give yourself a second to pause and approach God with what to do. Let him inform what is best rather than just doing what you think works in the moment.
As we learn to submit to what God is asking us to do rather than just autopiloting through every decision, we oftentimes find Him leading us to unlikely conclusions, seemingly silly details, and things that we easily could’ve missed otherwise. As we pick up on what matters to God in the crevices of our lives, we start to see Him at work all around us. No longer are we in this world for ourselves. We find our purpose, our life, and our hope in Him. In Christ alone.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” - Matthew 6:33
We’ve all been there.
Feeling like we don’t why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Whether it’s your job,
It’s way too easy to feel like you’re not being intentional.
Do you wish you were somewhere that you’re not?
Do you wish you were getting results that you can’t seem to get?
Do you feel like you should be further along than this?
I’m a dreamer. It’s what I do.
It’s really easy to come up with what I want my life to look like.
One of the most frustrating things in life is knowing that you are doing everything you possibly can to set yourself up to win… But you still lose and lose and lose.
It’s time to get back on track.
And the answers to 3 simple questions will help you get there.
Start with an area of your life in which you’re not where you want to be.
The vision you have for your future will determine your actions today.
And the actions you take today will determine what your future actually becomes.
Don’t just think about making a better future for you and your family.
Ask God for a vision today.
He doesn’t usually operate on our timetable. So ask deeply, and ask often.
“And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.” - Luke 11:9-10
If you are intentional about pursuing a vision you want for your life, you will do whatever it takes to get there.
If you are unintentional, you will believe the lie that your actions don’t matter. And you’ll blindly do whatever you feel like without any thought towards what is best.
My friend Scott Floyd would often say, “This life isn’t a dress rehearsal. Don’t treat it like one.” God’s given you life today for a reason. Be purposeful, and move towards what’s best.
We live in an age of reason.
My question for you is has reason become the ultimate authority in your life?
In Mark chapter 6, there are two huge examples of reason hindering people from seeing and experiencing Jesus fully.
The first story is a pretty boring one, and the fault of that seems to be with the people of Nazareth. Jesus was born here and has now returned to the little town. These people knew Jesus. They had likely seen him as a child, as a carpenter, at home, at the synagogue… So they had a context of Jesus being a very normal person who came from an illegitimate mother. (Remember they have no context or proof that any part of Jesus was divine.)
The people heard Jesus teaching in the synagogue and “were astonished,” just like many people we see who heard him in other passages. But because of the context and history they had with knowing Jesus, their conclusion was different than a lot of others’. They started asking questions like, “What is this wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary…”
And then, they get to the worst conclusion of all: “And they took offense at him.”
These people didn’t investigate.
They didn’t ask questions.
They didn’t wonder or dream or even want to believe, it seems.
They built up things they knew to be true and decided to rationalize the Savior away to a lunatic.
Was what they did so absurd? Could we blame them?
The words of the woman at the well in John 4:29 come to mind. After Jesus telling her all about her story and forgiving her sins, she runs back into town, tells people what just happened and says, “Could this be the Messiah?”
Our goal as followers of Christ isn’t to disregard reason and find every opportunity to do things backwards. But reason can combat faith during critical spiritually important moments. And when we yield to reason in those moments, we miss out on nurturing and growing the faith that God wants to see in our lives.
I find myself often at a place where I wish I experienced God’s radical nature more. And I wonder if I rely too heavily on my own reason to miss God working in my life already. It might be time to take a hard self-assessment on where reason rules in my world.
Don’t miss God’s working and leading in your life because you’re too stuck in the ways of this world. Open your heart, and see Him lead you in a fresh way.