“What if we just showed up in our relationship to God? What if the only thing we actually did was to be available to Him? What if we acknowledged that the Jealous God is in hot pursuit of us and let Him do what He will with our lives?”
Our God is jealous. We furl our brow because that word reads negative but the word in its original meaning could be interchanged with the word “zealous.” God pursues us. He is totally committed to his relationship with us. He doesn’t come after us to put us in holy time out. He wants our hearts.
I wrote the questions above for an online book discussion based on the first commandment found in Exodus 20:3-5. But the words resonated with something God has been up to in this season of my life, something that I really have never done before in my forty years of living as a Christ-follower.
What have I been doing? I have been showing up.
For as long as I can remember I have been pursuing God, but not until the last few months have I been in a position where without a doubt, I knew He was running the show.
That’s a tough admission from a once Bible teacher and short-term missionary, from someone who has been part of church starts and led the board of a local ministry.
All those things were good things but they were tasked-oriented. Though God used me and I grew spiritually through those good things, they weren’t the forever God-things I had thought they would be.
I still go to one of the churches I helped start, but God has asked me to step away from the other things, things very close to my identity.
God asked me to surrender, to walk away— for the time being. I've learned to not to put limits on God. It wasn't easy to discern his leading and much harder to lay down things I was capable of doing, things I did well. I walked in obedience because I trust the heart of God.
So for months now I have been getting up every day and reminding myself that God can use me if I make the effort to be available—if I am willing to see the world through his eyes.
What I knew in theory, but hadn’t really given myself to, was the truth that God doesn’t need an organization or a class to use me to extend his grace to someone. Day by day, He gives me the privilege to give grace, be with someone to encourage, to extend acceptance where it is not expected. I never anticipate when the encounter will come. It comes in the most unlikely places. Last week it was at the nail salon on one day, and when I reported for jury duty on another.
The zealous God is pursuing my heart. I live the necessary, the frivolous, and the mundane and He finds me there. Wherever I am, I find myself right in the middle of his purposes. Though I am intent and watchful, I am always surprised when he creates an opportunity for me to extend his grace. It has been my delight.
God is great and glorious. He wants our hearts—more than anything else.
He still loves Bible Study, mission trips, and para-church ministries but He wants us to see him working in nail salons, jury rooms and at the neighborhood market.
I won't tell you that this showing up has been easy. It involves waiting, praying, solitude, listening. I get easily distracted and can become self-condemning thinking I am not making a difference in the world.
But I keep remembering that God is pursuing my heart and I offer it to Him.
I don't have a mission trip planned or a Bible Study lined up for the fall; no one has called me to teach or to speak.
I study the Bible. I pray for the nations. I write words on a page.
As I acknowledge the One who pursues me, He lets me in on the grace-giving. My eyes are opening to God's care for the smallest things. I gather little treasures that bear the "weight of glory."
I once read a book that had a list of fifty or so things required for surrender. It overwhelmed me and I chucked it. Could it be that surrender means just showing up? I think so.
How about you? Where have you seen God showing up when you least expected it? Have you had to surrender good things for God things?
Linking with Emily and Jennifer: