What God Wants from Us
- Anne Peterson Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
- 2021 5 Jan
Sometimes we feel like we’re on empty - that we have nothing more to give. At times I’ve felt that way, often during trials. Instead of being full of hope, my hope had dwindled to a tiny flame that flickered. Then God’s Holy Spirit reminded me of the truth. That God is Almighty God, the maker of heaven and earth. Nothing is too hard for him (Jeremiah 32:27). When things look hopeless, it’s because we are looking at what is seen, instead of what is unseen. What we see is temporal, what we can’t see is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:17).
Sometimes we’re looking at things we’re holding onto. Have you ever wondered what God wants from us? God doesn’t make us guess. He lets us know in his love letter to us: the Bible.
1. God Wants Our Regrets
Some of us have regrets in our lives. I had one such regret when my mom called me from the other room and I didn’t go. I didn’t believe my brother when he told me she called. But honestly, I could have gotten up and checked. Instead, I live with regret for that night in November 1968.
We have regrets for things we did or didn’t do. When my dad was dying in a hospital, God worked in my closed heart and I went to see him. I didn’t want to go because he had blamed me for our mom’s death. But God opened my heart, and this is what happened to me the day I forgave my father.
A few years later, when I became a Christ-follower, I read in the Bible that there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus (Romans 5:1). And yet, I had believed it was my fault my mother died, and I carried that heavy guilt. God is the only one who truly knows the number of our days (Psalm 139:16). God knew how many days my mom would live. God alone holds the keys to life and death (Revelation 1:18). We need to believe God’s truth.
Recently, I entered a contest and submitted the story about my dad. It didn’t get accepted, and yet, God had something else in mind. God’s Holy Spirit gently reminded me that my father said he was sorry about things in our lives, but I never acknowledged to my dad that I could have been a better daughter. And here I thought I was entering a contest. Instead, God wanted me to see the truth. I do have regrets that I am learning to place in God’s capable hands. God knows our lives can be burdensome.
2. God Wants Our Burdens
As a new Christ-follower, our Bible teacher, Lois Peterson, wanted more for us than just teaching us about salvation. She wanted us to learn how to walk with the Lord. She encouraged us to find a church, a place to serve God. She led me to the Northside Gospel Center. There I taught primary-aged children. It was a wonderful way for me to learn God’s truth and illustrate it to innocent children. What they didn’t know was that I was learning right alongside them.
When summer came, I helped at daily Vacation Bible School: two weeks in the summer where we would share the good news of God’s love. Lois’s husband, Don, drove a school bus - picking up children at designated stops who wanted to know about Jesus. I led wonderful songs that the Holy Spirit still brings to my mind today, decades later. One day at Bible school, my friend Barb taught about how God invites us to give him our heavy burdens. I can still picture her saying the verse in a sing-song way, especially when she got to the words, “…for my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28). God cares when we get weary. He wants to carry our burdens. And in turn, we become sensitive to others who are burdened. But God is not only concerned about the big things in our lives. He cares about the little things, too.
3. God Wants Our Trust
Sometimes people do everything by themselves, never asking others for help. Our world praises independence. Even when you need others, you’ll hear phrases like:
Pull yourself up by your bootstraps.
You can do it.
You don’t need anyone.
We start believing those things and we learn to trust only in ourselves - leaning on our own understanding. God tells us we’re to wholly trust him, and we’re not to lean on our own understanding. God tells us he will direct us (Proverbs 3:5-6). Learning to lean on God doesn’t come automatically. But when we choose to trust in Jesus, God starts a work in us that he will continue until he’s done (Philippians 1:6). God is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). And God finishes everything he starts. We can count on that. When we struggle, God will help us. He asks us to give him our cares, no matter how small.
4. God Wants Our Cares
As a parent, how many times have you made an extra trip for your little ones? Maybe they forgot their favorite stuffed animal. Or like my grandson, Charlie, maybe they lost their Dynaco car.
“Oh Gwamma,” he said with crocodile tears. “My Dynaco car is lost-ed and I’ll never have it again.”
“Charlie, God answered our prayers,” I said, holding out his precious car. Charlie’s face lit up. “Oh Gwamma, my Dynaco car was disappeared-ed and God disappeared-ed it back!”
I told Charlie that God knows when one little sparrow falls to the ground and he cares about little boys, too (Matthew 10:29-31).
5. God Wants Our Gratitude
God was thrilled to answer Charlie’s prayers when he was little. And he’s continued answering his prayers as well as those from his siblings. God wants us to get to the place where we are thankful, no matter what we’re going through. Why? Because it shows we believe in who God is. And that we trust in his character. God is good. He can be nothing less than good. And if we truly believe in who God is, we’ll be thankful for whatever we face. We are being obedient when we thank God in our trials (1 Thessalonians 5:18). It doesn’t even matter if you can see something worth thanking God for. We are pleasing God when we thank him because it takes faith, and God said that without faith, it’s impossible to please him (Hebrews 11:6). We can also be thankful because we’re not in our trials alone (Hebrews 13:5). No matter what happens, God is always there. And when we don’t know what’s happening, we can thank God that he knows (Psalm 147:5). Sometimes we forget that God loves it when we spend time with him.
6. God Wants Our Presence
When you love someone, you want to be with them. God isn’t satisfied being with us just while we are here on earth. God is preparing a place for us in heaven (John 14:6). And the only requirement is that you trust in his Son (John 3:16).
Nine years ago, when my grandsons Jude and Charlie were four and five years old, I’d read to them or tell them stories from my head. They’d both inch towards me on the couch, one on each side. Charlie would stroke my hand while Jude leaned on my shoulder. Those memories warm my heart. When I imagine seeing the Lord, face to face, I can hardly wait. I wouldn’t feel this way if I didn’t know I’m forgiven. Everyone can have that assurance if they trust in what Jesus did on the cross. My hope is that everyone reading these words knows that they are going to heaven.
A prayer for us:
Lord, I lift up each person who is reading these words. If someone does not know for sure they are going to heaven, I pray they acknowledge they are born a sinner and that they will realize that the blood Jesus shed is the only thing that forgives sins (Hebrews 9:22). Lord, help them understand that when Jesus said, “It is finished” (John 19:30), he was talking about the payment for our sins. And help them take that step of faith to accept your precious gift. God, I also pray for those who do know you but are holding onto things that hinder them from trusting you completely. Loosen their grip, Father. Help them to open their hands. I pray this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.
My hands are clenched, my knuckles white,
I’m hanging on with all my might.
And then I hear God whisper low,
Come on my Child, let go.
-Anne Peterson© 2020
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/kieferpix
Anne Peterson is a poet, speaker, and published author of 16 books. Her most recent book is Always There: Finding God's Comfort through Loss. Anne has published 42 Bible Studies and numerous articles with christianbiblestudies.com. She has been a regular contributor to Crosswalk for seven years. Visit Anne’s website at annepeterson.com and sign up for a free eBook or visit her Facebook page. You can also subscribe to Anne’s YouTube channel where you can watch her recite her poems and share her heart.