Earlier this week I was struggling to do my workout. I just did not want to do it. So instead I spent a long time thinking about writing up a new workout plan instead. Perhaps I needed to go for another P90x run through…then I thought about how I’d need a new pull up bar…so suddenly the internet is loaded up and I’m scrolling through the shopping sites. Then I’m thinking about how a pull up bar would be a waste because they usually damage the door frames, so I’m looking at those squat racks and multi-gyms…
Then I catch myself.
I’m just procrastinating and not actually doing the work. I’m sure we’ve all been there.
I think we can be the same in our relationship with God. Looking for a new bible, journal, worship playlist, scented candle, devotional to use…sometimes spending money is the solution. It really is. Sometimes God challenges our unwillingness to ‘invest’ in our relationship with Him, and nudges us to buy something extravagant for our worship of Him. Remember David, who once said: ‘I will not offer to God, that which costs me nothing’.
On the other hand, your diving onto Christian-bookshops.com and need-a-new-bible.co.uk, could very well be a symptom of a heart procrastinating from doing the work. Perhaps, God is calling you to simplicity and into times of imperfection.
What do I mean?
You’ll often catch me making a coffee before I meet with God, I usually want a nice freshly made coffee when I meet with God (just like when I meet with a friend). I also like to set the scene, have a tidy room, light a candle, put some music on, sit in my favourite chair etc etc.
But, I must be careful not to make coffee a pre-requisite to spending time with God.
Imagine how weird it would be, if I only spent time with my wife, if the conditions were ‘perfect’. With the right background music, with a fresh coffee. We would not have an authentic relationship. No, she sees me in the good times and bad. She’s seen me alert in the mornings and dreary in the evenings, pumped with energy after a workout and knackered after a day of meetings and presentations at work.
One of the most challenging sermons I have ever had to give was on Psalm 139. One of the things I addressed was our tendency to only pray neatly packaged – “theologically correct” prayers. However, this is not the approach of the lamenting psalmist. Read it for yourself if you don’t believe me.
No, God wants our honest prayers, however painful and however frustrated. Yes, there is a place for “correct” prayers about God’s sovereignty in suffering. But there is also a time for non-instagramable prayers. As my Dad says: God is big enough to handle our clenched fists. The alternatives are fakeness and/or avoidance. May we never approach God with reservation, hiding behind the fig-leaves of man-made attempts to garner favour and look presentable. And may we not run and hide from Him until the storm passes.
Remember the disciples in the boat, caught in the midst of the storm, they prayed: “Lord, don’t you care!”.