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Getting God to do what you want

So often, I meet people who are trying to get God to do what they want. They'll try anything--anything from bartering with God, to various "do-gooder" actions, to trying to buy God off with gifts of money or time. It's pretty common. This may sound ludicrous to the average person when all is going well for them, but for those who are anxious or desperate, these kinds of steps become a bitter reality; they are desperate, they've tried everything, and when nothing else seems to work, they turn to God.

Sadly, it's not unheard of for a religious charlatans to take advantage of this common dilemma for people. In my opinion, most modern TV evangelists are essentially hawking a method to manipulate God-- they say that if you want God to do some particular thing all you have to do is follow a certain set of steps--namely send that particular TV evangelist lots of money to demonstrate your faith--and God will respond by bringing to fruition whatever it was you "claimed" by faith. Here's the problem with all of this: God is not a genie, He's not a vending machine, He's not at our beckon call, waiting to fulfill our latest wish.

The problem is that so often we want God to act on our terms--when and how we think is best. We are convinced that this particular pressing matter is not a fanciful whim but something of major importance that God must provide. We want a spouse, we want healing, we want a certain career, we want a specific lifestyle. We want, we want, we want.

And so often, I've heard people mutter in disgust that God didn't fulfill His end of the bargain therefore they don't believe in Him, or won't follow Him, won't honor Him, or something along those lines. Since God didn't do what they wanted, they won't do what He wants from them. But this mindset is fraught with problems!

First, it misunderstands the nature of God's supreme wisdom. So often the thing we want is truly harmful to us or detrimental to the plan He has for us. Case in point: when I was a new believer, I knew a beautiful young model who was a customer in my parent's store. I began praying that God would make it so that I would date her. Now, that's a crazy idea. This woman was a million miles away from the Lord. She was on a different life-track than me. And let's be realistic, I'm a pastor and that's not exactly the kind of life that would endear the fidelity and devotion of a young model. As it turns out, God knew what was best for me all along and now I have a fabulous wife and marriage. It took time for me to figure out that my Heavenly Father knows best.

Second, this mindset misunderstands the nature of God's supreme will. The average person thinks that God is actively involved in making us happy and comfortable. But that's not what going on at all! I've heard so many people say words to the effect that "God wants me to be happy". Now what we need to accept is that hard truth, that as dissonant as it sounds to our minds, God does NOT necessarily want us happy (I'll explain in a moment). We need to realize that we are all under God's judgment--even me, a pastor. The Bible says that all of us have sinned, all of us have gone astray, all of us have cast off God's rule from our lives and all of us seek to live as Lord of our own lives. Rather than giving us happiness in life, God's most important goal our our lives is that we come to Him in repentance so that we can get back on track with His will for our lives. Think about this, if we're striving for things that God does not want for us, why would He want to encourage us along a path that He knows is not in our out best interest?

What people don't understand, is that one of the main reasons for the pain and misery in this world is to prove to us that life is NOT perfect and that we need a savior. The goal of pain is to bring us to God, that we might come to Him and be reconciled to Him. God is the highest source of all that is good, and joyful and meaningful in this world. However, as long as a person seeks to find happiness in something not rooted in Him, then He will not condone, support or encourage them on their path. They will never find the peace and joy they seek because true peace and joy only come from Him and He will not give these gifts to those who do not seek to find them in Him. So often, people want God to coddle them in their rebellion and sin when in reality He is calling them to utterly abandon their old life and living their new life in Christ.

Third, it misunderstands the nature of God's dealings with us. Again, when people want some thing--often they are asking for an outright miracle that disregards the laws of science, consequences, reality, etc. The average person has a poltergeist view of God--that He should make things levitate across the room to do things like: prove His reality, make our lives easier, guide us in decisions, etc. This is not how God works with us. He is not out to suspend the laws of nature to placate our whims. In nearly all cases, God wants us to proceed the old fashioned way--through careful obedience to His prescriptions.

Fourth, trying to manipulate God is rooted in a fundamental misunderstanding about how we determine and/or learn God's will. Along with these ideas and matters I've already mentioned, people seem to think that God will communicate His will to them through wild and fantastic signs. I've heard about people driving by signs as they were praying, and taking the message of the sign to be a message from God. Yikes! That's just an absurd, Ouji board view of how God talks with us. The reality is that God has given us broad and specific instructions in His Word; the Bible. The Bible contains everything we need for life and godliness. We don't need anything else. All we have to do is learn what it says, and prayerfully live out what we've learned. That's how God guides us and directs our steps. As we follow God along the path, there will be plenty of times where the expedient route seems easier, better, happier, wiser, etc. But the scriptures say that there are ways and routes that seem right, but really lead to death.

So with all of these points that I've listed, rather than seeking to manipulate God, what we really need to to is seek Him to be able to surrender our whole lives and hearts to God. His will and plan for us is best. He is wiser, more righteous, more loving than us and what He wants is vastly superior to what we even want. The peace, joy and satisfaction that we are looking for in life will not come from us getting God to do what we want, but rather when we learn to trust Him, walk with Him, obey Him and then to be filled with the love, joy, peace and strength that He supplies.

So, those are my thoughts, I'd love to hear yours.
Last modified on Monday, 20 December 2010 13:29
Russ Brewer

Russ Brewer

Rescued from the domain of darkness, transferred to the kingdom of the Son. Undershepherd of Grace. Husband of Corinne. Father of three. Chew-toy to Zeke...