Earning an Answer
Do you believe your actions relate directly to a “yes” or “no” from God? One question I have struggled with is, “If I had just behaved better, this good thing would have happened or this bad thing wouldn’t have happened.” As a child, I would stay up, quite innocently, on a cold winter night waiting for those snowflakes they had forecasted to start falling against the backdrop of the streetlight outside my window. I believed, falsely, that if I was on my best behavior then the snowstorm would materialize and when I awoke the next morning I would be rewarded with the 6 to 10 inches of snow. If this did not happen then somehow this was my fault, that I hadn’t gotten something quite right, forgotten to take out the trash, I talked back to my parents or whatever it was—that I had behaved badly and ruined it for all the kids in the city counting on my good behavior. I now know, however, that many of us still believe this way on some level and worse many churches still teach this. The job we had been praying for falls through, the sickness we are praying against doesn’t get better or our child or spouse dies. Whatever it is, we have tied it in some way to how God sees us, and if we don’t measure up then we don’t gain His favor.
This idea for me and for many of my friends came from the legalism taught in our school and church, and sadly for many of my friends they still struggle with this idea. They believe God is like Zeus up in heaven keeping a tally of good vs bad deeds or behavior and doles out blessings or curses accordingly.
God graciously and clearly showed my one day what a lie this is. He What showed me what His love is really about and how it relates to prayers asked for and answered.
Here is the short version of what this looked like in my life. I was married to my first wife in the early 90’s and only for around a year and a half. After she left but before the divorce was finalized I spent most of my waking moments while not at work, at home reading the Bible or listening to worship music. While not consciously trying to earn her back, God clearly saw it that why. I wasn’t enjoying this time for what it could have been, I was enjoying this time for what God could do for me and what on some level I felt He owed me for my devotion.
Even though I was getting to know God on a selfish level, He was faithful to reveal His love for me, even with my wrong motive. He helped ease the pain; He filled the hole in my heart; He was my company those nights where my friends weren’t with me. But one day He showed me even more who and what He is and revealed my heart to me.
So I am at home during lunch time, listening to a Steve Camp CD, and while I’m doing my thing, I remember actually hearing God’s voice in my head.
“Whether I bring her back or not has nothing at all to do with what you do for Me. You can’t make me love you anymore or less than I already do. You can not earn it and you don’t deserve it. It is free and freely given. So stop.”
At the time I was crushed, I didn’t understand the freedom that those words would bring to me and what a loving act it was until later. At that moment I wept, knowing, and knowing clearly without any doubt that I had been trying to earn His favor and He wanted me to love him and spend time in His presence simply because I enjoyed Him, that I longed for His company. And finally that He wasn’t going to be used, not by me, not by anyone.
There is no formula for God. No prayer of Jabez, no name it and claim it, no secret combination of steps hidden in the Bible, and certainly no deceiving God into getting what you want.
So be free in the knowledge that God’s love is not a commodity to be bought. You cannot earn His “yes” or His “no”. Take comfort in the fact He has a plan for you and pray His plan be done in your life, and quit trying to earn an answer.