We lead extraordinarily busy lives. Between the pressures and problems of our work lives and the turmoil of training children to have healthy lives, we find ourselves chasing one thing after another, never stopping. If you are like me, there is a still small voice in your heart that is crying out for more. So what do we do? We choose more. We think that working harder, maybe earning that next promotion, will finally silence that nagging voice. We transfer the belief of more to our kids, assuming that my happiness comes from more, theirs does too. We add new activities and focus attempt them more intensely. The result: more pressure, more turmoil and more problems. Too often these become manifested in depression, substance abuse and a myriad of illnesses. Exactly the opposite of what our heart is crying out for and definitely not the life that God promises us. He is calling us to one simple thing, obedience.
I don’t think of myself as disobedient. Maybe that is why I find myself annoyed when I read Biblical truths about disobedience. In fact, Instead of translating disobedience truthfully, I reinterpret it with positive words like progressive and enlightened. These twists of truth allow me to avoid guilt while fully embracing, even amplifying my individuality. My prayers are also shaped by this belief. I ask God to help me in the places I am falling short. They sound like, “God give me that promotion,” or, “please help Junior play well today. He deserves to win.” All seems well until God doesn’t perform for us. When we fail to get recognized at work or our kids fall into trouble, we accuse Him of not providing and our restlessness accelerates. James 4:3 confirms this, “you ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” Today, in Hebrews 3, we read a related comment. It says, “Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” (Hebrews 3:15).
If we want to have rest as God promises throughout Scripture, we must look toward obedience. This means that I can no longer avoid the hard work of transformation. The first step of obedience is listening. When I pause and listen for God, I realize that the still small voice in my heart is not asking for more. Instead, recognizing that this is the still small voice of God, I hear Him calling me, calling me to obedience. Waiting in silence, He convicts me that my past re-interpretations are nothing more than a hard heart. This hardness gives way to misbelief in my individuality and self-importance. According to the Bible, they are more than misbelief, they are unbelief (Hebrews 3:19). My unanswered prayers, therefore, are not the result of God’s punishment or wrath, but my unbelief! OUCH!
There is hope. When we turn our cry of desperation toward Jesus, stopping to listen, he responds. Thankfully, he does not ask for more than that. When we do, He assures us of the rest we are looking for. (Matthew 11:28-29)
I found myself captured by the picture I added to this post. Our stories parallel the boy’s burning of the ladder rungs. He believes that the fire will keep him alive while we believe that “more” will lead to rest. His comfort is temporary, short-lived even. What about ours? Proverbs 14:12 says it clearly. “There is a way that seems right to a man that leads to death.”
Thanks to Pawel Kuczynski for creating a fantastic illustration of how our true beliefs shape our actions.