A Drought Caused by Distinction
The other night we had our end of the year party for our high school students a couple’s house that have been faithful in serving our church. It was a blast! The couple have nice land outside of town for yard games and grilling out, and even have a pasture for riding dirt bikes and four-wheelers.
I was talking to a student who I noticed hadn’t gone on the dirt bikes yet, and I asked him why. He responded loudly, “ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I DON’T WANT TO DIE!!” I’m pretty sure if there were subtitles to our conversation, that’s how it would have looked. He was SO scared! I tried telling him about how we have helmets, we have other smaller dirt bikes that are safer to ride, and even offered to walk next to the dirt bike with him as he went slowly. This kid wasn’t going to budge.
Why? Why wouldn’t he do it? Okay yes I know he said he didn’t want to die, but lets unpack that a little bit… He wasn’t just simply scared he was going to die, he was fearful of the outcome in general. He didn’t want to go all in with what everybody else was doing because he wasn’t exactly sure what would happen. He analyzed possible outcomes, thought about ones that would be painful, didn’t want to take the chance of hurting himself, so he didn’t do it.
The student was still at the party and we were excited to have him there! He participated in other games, ate food, and still had a great time. But he didn’t really get the FULL experience of the party because he didn’t want to ride the dirt bikes. Now, my point isn’t making fun of the kid and making him out to be a chump because he didn’t ride. My point is that you and I let fear tell us what to do. We make a distinction between what we will do and what we don’t, and we let fear make that distinction. But what we don’t always realize is that the division between what we will and won’t do is usually a slave to the master of fear. I’m willing to bet that a fear of some kind probably dictates most of the decisions you make. The student was scared of getting hurt, but in a broad sense, he was just scared of an unknown outcome. It’s really no different with us.
We have an opportunity to fully invest in a situation. Maybe it’s giving financially. Maybe it’s getting in a small group for the first time. Maybe it’s breaking up with a boyfriend or girlfriend. Maybe it’s trusting that God is sufficient when we are lonely. Maybe it’s starting to workout. Maybe it’s going to church on a consistent basis. Maybe it’s being honest about something you did that you know you need to come clean about.
Whatever it is, we are all given opportunities like these and they are all in place to give us good and glory to God. But we don’t always get that feeling when push comes to shove do we? Why? Because fear has caused there to be a drought in our hearts. We are dry in our purpose, numb in our passion, and confused in our placement. The direction and purpose of our lives have taken a wrong turn and we don’t have motivation to get back on track. In that, we have confused our placement in proportion to God. That’s why our purpose isn’t what it ought to be. That’s we don’t have any passion in the tank anymore. Because we don’t see God rightly anymore. And we don’t see God rightly, we don’t see ourselves rightly. And when we don’t see God or ourselves rightly, we feel legitimate reason to fear.
The Lord rebukes some offerings that the priests gave him in Malachai 1-2, and the priests don’t understand. Isn’t sacrificing and offering to the Lord a good thing? Yes it is, but not when it doesn’t cost you anything. A sacrifice that doesn’t hurt isn’t a sacrifice, it’s a painless donation. And that’s what the priests did; they sacrificed offerings to the Lord, but they could have given an offering that costed them more. The point is that God isn’t pleased with us just having one foot in and one foot out. You might say, “Well at least I have one foot in! Isn’t that good? Isn’t it better than having no feet in?” The fact that we try to defend ourselves in asking those types of questions give evidence to the fact that we don’t really understand what following Jesus is all about.
Following Jesus is about surrendering to Him. Not just some things. All things. “Do I need to sell my house, eat kale all my life and be miserable?” No, that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that nothing you have is yours. We are owners of nothing, we are just stewards of some things. If we could truly understand that for what it really means, that would change so much.
So why aren’t you going all out? Why are you showing partiality in giving some of yourself but not all of yourself? Are you scared? I know that’s me most of the time. But why do I need to be scared? Do I know the outcome of what might happen? No, I really don’t . But I do know that I should never make a decision out of fear. And neither should you. Where fear exists, faith doesn’t. Maybe you don’t have faith in God because your fear has overgrown and over powered it.
Go all out. Don’t hold back. I mean why would we? Is Jesus not good enough anymore? Of course He is. He’s always been good enough, even in our wandering. Is it going to be hard to make adjustments? Yes. Is it going be uncomfortable? Probably. Is it going to cost us something? It always does. But listen, it’s worth it. It’s so worth it. God is able to immeasurably great things in your life, so why would we let fear of an outcome get in the way of that?
The ultimate outcome is that Jesus wins, He’s coming back for the last time, and everything will be okay. So just go for it. Go all out. God isn’t pleased with half-hearted effort. If you give it your all and you still mess up, guess what? He is so proud of you. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about being faithful. And fear and faith don’t go well together.
Do what you need to do, kill the fear, and love Jesus.