Anyone who feels slightly worthy of divine love has had no more than a superficial brush with the majestic and holy Lord of heaven and earth. Our unworthiness, however, should merely cause us to enjoy God’s love more than ever, not send us reeling in self-loathing or frantic activity.|
Heaven sometimes withholds ministry opportunities so we may learn it is not our labors or our diligence or our usefulness that makes us precious to God. If your child fell ill and could no longer do her chores, would your love for her diminish? Well, don’t imagine this speck of human love exceeds the love of the Almighty.
Would you attempt pushing a jumbo jet to help it fly across the Atlantic? That would be wiser than trying to do your bit to help Christ secure your salvation or breach the infinite gulf between who you are and what a person would have to be to merit God’s smile. Anyone foolish enough to keep trying will be left on the runway when departure time arrives. In love, the Lord will not take us far in ministry until this issue is sorted out (Romans 3:19-24; 9:30-33; Galatians 3:1-14; Philippians 3:3-10).
We often get the salvation part fairly right, yet still imagine we must earn God’s smile by serving him. It’s hard to believe the King of glory would treasure our friendship. Though we keep pushing it down, bobbing close to the surface of our consciousness is the thought, ‘The Lord saved me because of the things I can do for him.’
The false notion that service could buy God’s approval might heighten motivation, but heaven will not exploit it. Nothing is more important to God than our spiritual well-being.
They had just brought in the washing when there was a knock on the door. ‘Oh no! The house is in a mess! And just look at me . . . !’ exclaimed Martha.
‘I’ll get it,’ called Mary. She opened the door and her heart skipped a beat. There was Jesus and all his disciples.
‘Come in!’ she gushed excitedly. ‘Martha! It’s Jesus!’
Martha was in a panic. How was she going to feed them all? If only she’d had more warning. She had wanted everything to be so nice for Jesus. ‘Where’s Mary? She’s taking her time!’
She ran next door to borrow some food. Still no Mary. She stoked the oven and got out the plates. Still no Mary. She peered out and there was Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet with not a care in the world! Martha exploded. Yet it was Mary that the Savior defended.
I don’t question Martha’s love, but her sister was more perceptive. Mary had discerned that Jesus’ yearning was not primarily to be served. He craved intimacy. Cakes could never taste so good that Jesus considered it worth being robbed of Martha’s presence.
Basking in the love of Jesus seems self-indulgent. We feel compelled to slip out of his embrace and whip ourselves into running errands for him. To sit with the King in the drawing room might be acceptable for royalty, but not for the class of people we see ourselves as. Slaving in the kitchen seems more appropriate.
God, however, is a giver not a taker. If the Lord of hosts wanted slaves he could compel the entire human race to serve him. He yearns for love, not labor. An hour spent luxuriating in the King’s presence means more to him than a life-time of fear-motivated service. If it’s a genuine expression of love, sweat is beautiful. But service as an expression of a slave-mentality grieves him. God longs to lift us from viewing ourselves as heaven’s second-class citizens. He has made us royalty and he wants us to know it.
Whether it is this particular revelation, or some other message he wants to share, sometimes the only way our Lord can get our attention is to block all ministry opportunities. Otherwise, we’d be in too much of a frenzy to hear him. We can only give to others what we have first received from above. Resting in God’s presence enables us to receive.
Locked doors are infuriating. I rant. I rave. I kick the door. But when at last I see more clearly, I realize enforced rests are a precious manifestation of God’s love. How I thank God for not letting me smash down the door. What tragedies he saves us from! Father calls ‘time out’ and I’m given the opportunity to commune with the Lord of creation and receive whatever it is I need.
We look to the day, however, when our Savior need no longer resort to compulsion before we ‘come aside . . . and rest awhile’ (Mark 6:31). We are nearing graduation when we have learnt to sit daily at Jesus’ feet.
Ministry is being granted the honor of an assignment worthy of God himself. It is God doing us a favor, not the other way around.
Not to be sold. © Copyright 1985-1996, 2008, Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: it is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged and it is not used in a webpage. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give. For use outside these limits, consult the author.
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