Only Believe

Monday, April 11, 2005

What is it that God wants from me?

This weekend, I started thinking about that question again, wrestling with my responsibilities toward God and toward other people. I feel like I've been trying to live up to too many expectations--and now I have so many obligations, I don't know how to drop them. I love a lot of people, but I can't keep up with all of them. I have responsibilities with Free Indeed, but I'm growing too weak to continue them, and I am looking at dropping out next semester while I get married and start a new life. I was so tired this weekend that I had no idea how to talk about anything very deep--my body just collapses on me, and all I want to do is cry. People email me and want responses to their theological opinions, and other people want me to work through my past with them, and all I want to do is sit down and cry about all the pain and where is God in all of this? I feel like my devotions are just a matter of obligation, that I have to do them, and that scares me, because I used to want God. I asked Him last week to please renew my passion for Him, and to humble me before Him.

On the train on the way to NYC on Saturday, I was trying to figure it out again when Pete shared with me the story of Jairus with me from his reading in Mark. Mark is a very fast-paced book that gives the reader a sense of how hectic Jesus' life on earth was. In the story, Jairus comes to Jesus to ask Him to come heal his daughter. On the way to Jairus' home, Jesus is walking through a throng of people and He senses a touch. Now, how He can feel one touch in an entire crowd of people... It tells you there is something special about it. It turns out that the woman who touched Him was one of the first people who fell down and worshipped Jesus, to believe that He was God's Son and not to go to Him simply for healing for herself. She was so afraid that He would be angry with her, and what does He say? "Go in peace, daughter, for your faith has made you well."

By the time they get to Jairus' house, the little girl has died. Jairus tells Jesus to leave--it's useless now that she's dead--but Jesus says something curious: "Only believe."

It was quite profound. What was Jairus supposed to believe? I was like, "Hello, God, what am I supposed to believe here? That you can heal this girl? That you can raise her from the dead?" If I could just nail it down, I'm sure I could believe it, God! If that's what You want me to do, I'll do it... just tell me what to believe!"

Anything to get what I want.

Then yesterday when I was cleaning house against my better judgment, I was listening to a sermon on the radio. The pastor was using a bad garden analogy to hermeneutically explain his thoughts on ministry--but something he said struck me. Either you're serving God, or you're doing ministry for yourself. "Oh, that's not me," I thought, but it sounded too prideful, so I kept thinking about it.

I listened to another hour or so of songs begging God to fill the singer, begging God to bring revival, telling God, "look at me! I'm all Yours!" A light came on in my heart. This is why we don't have revival! This is why our churches and ministries are falling apart at the seams with the divisions and doctrinal differences! It's all about us. What we can do, must say, have been taught, believe...

The disciples, Jesus' most loyal followers, kept asking Him for things. "Teach us to pray!" "Increase our faith!" "What must we do to be the greatest in Your Kingdom?"

The prayer Jesus prayed was a humble prayer expressing complete dependence upon God.

The faith Jesus taught was a humble faith from a place of brokenness where God was God, and not a vending machine for healing or blessing.

The greatest in God's Kingdom is a humble servant of all.

What is the right way? What is it that I am supposed to believe? I look at those things and think, "Wow! A to-do list! I can do this!" And then when it all boils down, I really can't, and I find myself empty and wondering what went wrong, ready to "go back to the beach" as Jesus' disciples did after His death.

What does it mean to "only believe"? What could God do with a people who only believed that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek to know I AM?

I feel like such a failure. It seems like everyone I try to help or love is slipping beyond my reach, like my love never really mattered anyway. The ministry that kept me living is succumbing to the organizational woes that eventually hit every organized ministry, and I'm too tired to keep fighting for the song that comes from the heart when people just want technically correct music.

I have lots of opinions on ministry and lots of thoughts on the way things should be done...But maybe... maybe God just wants me to let go of myself and abandon my all to Him for whatever purpose He may have. I'm used to making a choice about what I need to do/want to do with my life, and checking with Him. He's led me that way for a long time. But I've never really simply been abandoned to Him. I've never really freed my spirit from my own control to pour itself out unreservedly at the feet of Jesus because He is I AM.

But my prayers lack fervor. I'm so sick of prayers that just ask God to please give us this, please make us well, please make us happy, please bless us, please help this person overcome that issue, please make us yours, please please please...! It strikes me that He's worth more than that. I want to abandon my soul to God, to be His alone--not to serve Him out of duty or obligation. I want to love Him because He loves me, and to live fully in the grace He has given in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I want my eyes to light up when I hear Him praised, and my heart to break when others curse Him. I want to know His heart, and to sing for Him again.

I love people, but I don't want my life to be about people any longer. I don't want it to be about me anymore, either. I don't even think it is my life. I want me out of the way--I want to be a vessel, unconscious of myself as God pours His treasure out of me. I'm sick to death of answers and vending-machine prayers and commitments. I've come too far to turn back, and if I'm going, I'm going the whole way.

God, I am scared to death to try to pray to You right now. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to ask You for. But I know that You are very great, and that Your name is very holy. I know that You will do what You have planned, and that You will be glorified. I want You to be magnified in the life You have given to me.

You say I am Yours. You chose me. You promised to be a Father to me, and that I would be Your daughter. God, I don't want to ask You to use me. I don't want to ask You for the best things to ask You for. I just... I don't want to be on the top of the totem pole to judge whether others know You or not anymore. Please show me how you want me to live. Help me to thank You for the grace I see You pouring out to all of us who don't understand You even though we're struggling so hard to please You.

Please, help me to "only believe."


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