In a recent update I specifically shared about the “Journey of Healing” that I embarked upon a little over four months ago when an unexpected X-ray revealed that cancerous cells had invaded my lungs totally unexpectedly and without symptoms.
There are a lot of details to that dimension of my journey, but I also believe that one of the great lessons that I’m learning is that in so many circumstances and seasons in our lives, we tend to always be looking for the next goal, the next achievement, the next confirmation that we are being “useful” to the Lord.
Let me say right out of the gate, that I’m wired like many of you to expect that God has put us here for a purpose and that in accomplishing things we feel like we are in some ways fulfilling that destiny and somehow bringing pleasure to God. It’s not surprising that we think that way because so much of life is built around the idea that we are here to achieve something, produce something, bring value or make a difference in the world that can be seen, measured and somehow rewarded. It begins in the home at an early age, is profoundly fertilized through our educational system and ultimately measured in some ways by the kind of employment we’re able to engage and the nature of the accomplishments by which our lives tend to be measured.
However, I want to submit to you that it’s also just like God to turn this goal driven orientation upside down in terms of life in the kingdom of God. As we all know, so many things in God’s kingdom are “upside down”; the last shall be first and the first shall be last, blessed are the poor in spirit for they shall see God, when I am weak then I am strong, etc., etc.
In my devotional reading yesterday I was reminded of this fundamental truth in one of my favorite readings from Oswald Chambers
After obedience – – what?
The title reveals what most of us believe about our relationship with the Lord. We believe that if we focus on obedience and doing what the Lord wants us to do day to day in our lives that such actions will lead to our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us and the fulfillment of our visions and/or deeply held desires to serve the Lord in specific ways.
In very uncertain terms Chambers says this:
“We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. What we call the process, God calls the end.”
In other words, obedience to God in sensing His presence in your day to day interactions in life is what God is really all about. What He does with that obedience will likely more than exceed your expectations, but may not come in the very way that you specifically expected it to come to pass.
“It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.”
In other words, as I have said numerous times over the years, nothing pleases God more than trusting Him regardless of what our circumstances and/or accomplishments might be. This is so hard for us to accept and contradictory to so much of the preaching that you hear today. So often we think that God has something quite spectacular for us or perhaps something that we know will be of great help to others in need when all along, He is totally able to fulfill those dreams and needs if we are simply willing to obey Him in our day to day acts of obedience and trust.
Isn’t this what God meant when He spoke of King David who did accomplish great things in the name of the Lord, but also failed in the most profound of ways in some of his moral decisions. The Lord even still called him “a man after my own heart.” This was not because of what he did in defeating Goliath and the army of the Philistines and untold other numbers of battles for the people of Israel, and certainly not in his moral failures, but in the fact that he always returned and made his highest passion that of enjoying the intimate communion of worship in the presence of the Lord Himself.
In recent months I’ve had to put a number of my anticipated projects on hold because my physical situation would not allow me to keep such a tight schedule. Instead, I’ve spent a great deal more time in communing with the Lord, reading scripture, soaking in the words of encouragement and profound personal relationships that so many have expressed.
Whether or not this leads to some particular achievement or perhaps an open door of greater ministry to the body of Christ, is totally up to the Holy Spirit. I’m certainly open to that, but I’ve chosen to make my priority that of celebrating the process of walking day by day and even moment by moment tuning in to what He is saying to my heart and celebrating that there is no greater love than seeing and knowing that God is with you in the midst of everything; every storm, every struggle, every challenge in life. May that be your portion as well.