I have been and will always be praying for several specific people. Sometimes God puts a burden on your heart for someone and you can’t shake it – even when it hurts.
My heart hurts as I see people I love and pray for walk further and further from the Lord and towards their own kingdoms. That’s what I see in it. They are building their own kingdoms because they know better than God as they establish their own thrones as their own God. I began to see this pulling away from God’s authority but still wanting His blessings this way the last week in prayer, and the implications behind it are heartbreaking.
1. When you walk in what you know God does not have for you or says no to, you are telling Him that you value that thing more than Him. He is not your highest treasure if you pursue what He despises. He is not your greatest treasure if you just want His stuff and not Him.
2. Where you don’t honor God for who He says He is, you open yourself up to deception. If we push back against Him and say no to His way and yes to ours, it becomes easier and easier to be led astray. As holding onto what we want to do or believe for our own sake of comfort in having our way becomes priority, we can only let go of what He says because the two realities can not exist. We can’t have our way not aimed at making much of Him and make much of Him. We can’t be the god of our own hearts and have room for Him.
3. As you build a life on the shaky foundation of your own wisdom and will and establish your allegiance to your idols, you woship them. You can become your own god in the way you live; your own golden calf. That idol can be your job, your romantic relationship, sex, attention, status, money, gratification, or so many other things. Just because you honor that thing as God doesn’t mean that it will fill you like He will. The terrible thing is that when someone who knows better does this, the idol falls, and instead of seeing their choices as being the reason for the fall, they blame the God they forsook to have that thing in the first place.
4. This kind of living is so unsteady because the idol will fall. Ever know someone who lives in “seasons” of wanting to know and honor God? It’s because they have never fully surrendered if not having what they want from God sends them running. That either pushes people toward blaming God or into Him.
5. When God gets all the blame for people pursuing their own plans that didn’t work out it makes God the wish granter. They did things their way and forsook His but still expected Him to bless their sin. That does not happen. That will not happen. The holiness of God is so opposed to sin that you can’t just do what you want, expect Him to bless it, and then become bitter towards Him when He doesn’t. He never promised you He would. He promised you that He would always be better than the idols of our hearts. He’s proven it over and over, but people who are unwilling to surrender fully can’t know the joy of that. They want to have just enough God in their lives to get them where they want to go, but don’t want Him to impose on that plan. As long as He lets them have their way, God can hang around, but when that becomes disturbed by what He requires of His followers, following the enemy to our own thrown seems better. The problem is that the enemy and the sin in your heart will build up your treasure and kingdom in hell where you will no longer have the option of surrender to God after you exhale your final breath.
6. We don’t like to think of disobedience this way. We want to make it lighter and say, “God’s love is unconditional,” instead of saying that as you pursue the Lord and love Him more, His way will become your way. The things of the world will pale in comparison. All things that were good will taste like ash compared to wanting to know Him more and more. The more you love Him the more obedience feels like ease and not work because you will count it joy to love Him and everything else will feel like the best loss to not hold onto in higher reverence than Him. It’s like the parent who knows their child is sinning but says, “I’m just going to trust God to take care of them because if I say anything, they are just going to run away.” No. No. NO. NO! You have been given a responsibility to shepard and correct your children and to train them up in the Lord. How did David respond when a bear came to devour the sheep He was given to care for? He killed it with his hands! You have been given that responsibility as a parent. If you see sin devouring your child, you fight for them. You don’t just hope it works out. You help them kill it. Would you let an actual bear devour your child? No! That sin you see that you don’t call out in love and point them back to truth is mauling and destroying their soul. “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.” John Owen said this and it is so true.
I will close by saying this: stop being surprised by willfully choosing to not walk in the way or truths of God and things going badly. Stop being your own god and being surprised when you can’t make your world spin. Stop half-hearted surrender to a God who paid it all for you. He doesn’t want your falsely raised hands or only Sunday mornings.
He does love you unconditionally, but that does not give you license to do what you want with the expectation that a God who really loved you will make all that just work out your way. He loves you too much to abandon you in your sin and in the ways of our depraved hearts. He loves you too much to abandon you.