Monday, April 23, 2012

God Provides

We are creatures and as creatures, we have needs. Our greatest and first need is for God. We especially need a relationship and intimacy with God. God desires intimacy with us and promises that if we will draw close to him and trust in him then he will meet all our other needs. Our neediness will either drive us closer to God or drive us further away from him. We will seek God and trust him to meet our needs or we will trust in things and wind up seeking them.

God promises to provide us with what we need. And he promises us himself. God’s providing for our needs and offering of himself go hand in hand. God will not meet our needs without offering us himself. And God meets our needs in order that we might know him. The story of the testing of Abraham so clearly illustrates this point.

God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. Abraham had waited years and years for God to provide offspring and fulfill his promise to him. Then one day God asks Abraham to take his one and only son and sacrifice him. Abraham obeys, only telling Isaac that they are going on a journey to make a sacrifice to God. On the way up the mountain, Isaac asks Abraham, “Behold the fire and the wood; but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (Genesis 22:7)

Abraham responds with a line that is so rich and has such depth it is impossible to do it justice in this blog post. Abraham responds, “God will provide HIMSELF the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” God will provide himself. God is our provider. He can meet all our needs. He can meet our need or food and shelter and basic security. He can provide the approval we crave and the money to pay our bills. In meeting our needs and coming through for us, he most wants to provide himself. As we seek God for himself, we will find our needs met and a deeper relationship with him. When we seek God just for stuff, we lose both. As CS Lewis said, “Aim for heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim for earth and you will miss both.” Aim for a relationship with God and you will find your needs met. Aim for just your needs and you will struggle just to meet your needs and you will miss out on God.

Monday, April 16, 2012

God Is Quirky

Our God has a personality. The God of the Bible isn’t vanilla. He isn’t some ubiquitous force. As I read Scripture, especially as I have been reading the prophets recently, I have been learning to appreciate more God’s personality, especially the personality of our heavenly Father. Through the prophets, we see he gets angry, pissed off really and yet will go to any lengths to communicate his love for us. So often this personality gets lost in Church world or worst professional Church people or theologians will be embarrassed by passages of Scripture that really show God’s personality. Our God has a personality. Think of some of the things he told his prophets to do. He told Hosea to marry a prostitute so that he could show the Israelites they had prostituted themselves by chasing after protection from foreign gods and foreign nations. He told Jeremiah to put on underwear, then bury it and dig it up after a period of time to show how intimate he had wanted a relationship with them, but the relationship had deteriorated. I love this line in the 48th chapter of Isaiah. It says, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One O Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go. O that you had listened to my commandments!’” I love that. You can hear the frustration in God’s voice that people will just not listen to him and do what is for their own good. As a parent, I often feel the same way with their kids. If we are growing more intimate with God, we are getting to know more his personality. We grow closer to God when we read Scripture in a way in which we see God is quirky, he is playful. Why do you think we are more comfortable with a vanilla God? What do you think of calling God quirky?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why Don't We See Our Need For God?

Over the last few weeks, I have blogged about how we are creatures with needs. Our health, our spiritual growth and overall success in life are greatly affected by how we meet those needs. As I have tried to write about our need for God, I have struggled to articulate why we need God. I have been reading Safe People by John Townsend and Henry Cloud and it helped me clear up the struggle. They write, “God has created all of us incomplete, in adequate, and in need of a huge shopping list of ingredients that we cannot provide ourselves…Deep within, all of us hate the idea of having to need other, having to ask for what we don’t have, having to bow the knee to God.” Basically, it is difficult because I am prideful. In general, we are prideful creatures who really don’t like admitting our needs. And often when we do admit our needs, we make it sound like others owe it to us. We need God more than anything else, but because we are so wounded by original sin, it is most difficult to see our deep need for God. Food and clothing and shelter and our physical needs we see pretty clearly. Our soul’s need for God is obscured by our pride and spiritual blindness. As I reflect on my prayer recently, I am not sure I have been really seeking God. I’ve had quiet time, but I think I have been looking for answers to problems more than I have been looking for God. I have put my needs for solutions to problems ahead of my need for God. Our souls desperately need God, but we have to continually reawaken that need because in our pride we will lose sight of our need for God and act like practical atheists. Do you agree that pride blinds us of our greatest need for God?