For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required. Luke 12:48
I love it when God is doing things. I love it when God is doing things in me, causing me to grow and change for the better because I trust Him and know it is all for good. But I love C.S. Lewis' way of describing it like God as a builder coming in and renovating our 'house' - knocking things about, making things better.... it's not without discomfort.
Sometimes you can get to the point where you just wonder if there is an end to the stretching. Can't I have a day off from spiritual growth, God? This is hard going.
I get the feeling the answer is, no. There is no end to it. That's seems kind of depressing - does it mean we are in for a life of nothing but painful renovations?
That's what I started feeling today. For me, daily life can be a challenge. I'm a shy introvert whose job is to interact with young people all day. That stretches me. Every day I have to take a leap of faith to know that God is providing all my needs, physically and emotionally. And it's rewarding. I get so much joy out of working with young people. But just when I think I fulfilled my quota for stepping out in faith, God sends something else my way.
Yesterday I was doing fine, pleased with myself for overcoming fears left right and centre, trusting God to not let anything knock me down. Then, WHAM.
Are you serious, God? You want me to do something else. I thought I was already doing enough? I can't do it. This is my day off, for goodness sake.
I wrestled with this all day, knowing clear as day what it was God was asking of me, but feeling totally incapacitated by the knowledge that it was going to be difficult for me. I refused, I pleaded "God, don't make me do it", I ignored it... but I realised I was just digging myself into a hole of self-pity and fear. That's not a nice hole to be in.
I've been talking to other people lately about when God asks us to do things and we refuse or delay it, he can still use us, but we might miss out on the fullness of what His plan was for us had we obeyed immediately.
I should have known that one would come back to get me.
The thing is though, I wasn't miserable because God was asking me to do something, I was miserable because I was afraid of failure, afraid of pain, because I knew better and still wasn't doing it...and quite frankly, because I selfishly did not want to get up from beside the heater, put off other work I wanted to do and go do something for someone else.
It was as soon as I gave in that something funny happened. I finally said, "Ok, ok, I'll do it" and just as I was preparing to get up and go....he let me off the hook. He provided another way of doing the same thing, that didn't mean I was thrown out into the deep water without a life jacket.
It seems what he wanted most from me was obedience, not to make me suffer in something that was difficult for me. I feel a bit like Abraham when God gave him a ram instead of his son to sacrifice. (Though it was nothing so life and death for me.)
It turns out God does let us off the hook sometimes, just not in the way we expect. He doesn't take away everything challenging and difficult that could come our way, but he gives us a way to cope, a way through. God is gentle with us. He knows our fears and weaknesses. He knows what we find painful.
But he also requires obedience. Trust in God, that he will care for you, and go boldly into your life. Know that when you are afraid or feeling like you just can't take anymore, He is there. He's not a mean God, taking pleasure in our pain - He is a loving God, like a Father disciplining, correcting and guiding his children.The joy of growing closer to Him in the process far outweighs the temporary discomfort.
And in all things, if we are obedient, our lives will display the sovereignty and mercy of God.
When has God let you off the hook? When has He taken you through something painful for you to realise what was waiting on the other side?