Does God Want Good Things From Me, or For Me?
Sarah Bessey used to ask herself these questions:
What should I give up? What should I lay down? What should I do more? …If I really loved, God wouldn’t I be more like so-and-so? That one really has it figured out.
She used to feel guilty about not leading enough, sacrificing volunteering enough, helping enough around Church. She was much happier, she explains, when she could physically do something for the Kingdom. When she felt like she was tangibly pleasing God with her time, money, energy, worship, and work.
But since that time, her worldview has shifted.
Here is what I think: Maybe God doesn’t so much want things from us.
Maybe God actually wants things for us.
After all, God imagined us for love and for beauty, for life and for wholeness, for goodness and for mercy. You were made in the image of God. The Holy Spirit stirred over the waters, deep calling to deep.
God yearns like a father, like a mother, for us to be free.
God is Love, yes, and so God wants to lavish friendship and meaning and abundant life upon us, to help us to see this old world like the new world God envisions.
God wants us to be truly human, the way Jesus walked for and with us. Even the wrath of God isn’t something to fear, but something to welcome – that wrath is coming against the very things in us that bring death and destruction.
Stasi Eldredge, bestselling author and co-founder of Ransomed Heart ministries, also reminds us of how our dreams and desires (not just our burdens and sacrifices) are used and beloved by God. In Why You Need to Be Free to Dream a Little, she writes,
God dreams big. And he invites us to dream big with him. God has planted dreams and desires in each one of our hearts, and they are unique to us. Opening up our spirits, our minds, our hearts, our imaginations to what we would really like—to even the possibility of wanting—allows the Holy Spirit to awaken parts of ourselves that are in such a deep sleep no dreams are happening.
God is a Dreamer. He has dreams of you and for you.
When we think of God, do we envision him as a dreamer? Or do we picture a sober judge, a stern, white-bearded monarch? Do we picture a warrior? A shepherd? Perhaps God is all of those things – but he is also the God of Genesis 1 who breathed, spoke, painted the entire universe into existence! Eldredge continues:
Awakening and owning the dreams that God has placed in our hearts isn’t about getting stuff or attaining something. It’s about embracing who we are and who he has created us to be. In him. He is our dream come true and the one true love of our life. But we can’t love him with our whole hearts when our hearts are asleep. To love Jesus means to risk coming awake, to risk wanting and desiring.
Remembering that God is for us, and our dreams, is a big mental shift for some. Margot Starbuck, in her book Permission Granted, takes it even one step further. She exhorts us to remember this as it applies to others. Even those who, from our perspectives, aren’t living for God. The Crosswalk review of Permission Granted says,
The note that rings throughout this book, and specifically in the final chapters, is that God is for us. Of course God is holy, perfect, and righteous. Of course we screw up and behave in ways God would rather not have us behave. Starbuck's words and stories make it painfully clear that we Christians have the tendency to live life as though God is for some people, but not for others. Or perhaps God is only for us if we are walking the straight and narrow – but he’s no longer for us if we deviate or go through seasons of sin, doubt, and weakness. But are we over-complicating the issue?
Yes, the author argues. Biblically, it’s crystal clear to see that God is love – he even sent his son to die for us while we were still sinners. God is on our side, loving us, desiring that we succeed and live in his will. Starbuck argues that Christians have been far too lacking (and, again, fearful) in grasping hold of this reality and displaying it to a lost and broken world.
After all, "go and sin no more" was the last thing Jesus said to the sinful woman the mob threw at his feet. His first step was to protect her, defend her, and display mercy. His question, "Who among you is without sin?" could have been answered “I am” by Jesus himself. "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," Jesus offered; but though he was without sin, he refused to throw a stone. Then, after saving this woman’s life and earning her trust, he reminded her of what she already knew to be true: What you have done is sin. I do not condemn you. Go and be free of those shackles – live in the Truth instead.
Do you have trouble accepting that God is passionate about your dreams and desires? That God is for you? Did these words from Bessey and Eldredge make you consider that idea in a new light? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor at Crosswalk.com
Publication date: July 8, 2015