June 9-10, 2012
Sadly, the more I mature and learn, the more I realize how many mistakes I made as a child and into my early adult years. Here is a short list: giving into peer pressure, lying, cutting corners, cheating, getting my value from others’ opinions, sexual sins, alcohol and drug use, car accidents, financial blunders, listening to my emotions, even committing aggravated assault. They all flow from using my “Manual According to Karl” instead of applying God’s instruction manual and trusting Him to put together this contraption called ‘my life.’
Thankfully, God’s grace is so amazing. It protected me from many consequences, which I thoroughly deserved but didn’t have to experience. Then, after all that, He continually allows me to grow spiritually, develop my relationship with Him, and minister to others. If you didn’t believe in miracles before, hopefully you do now as my story fits the definition.
One outcome of my history is that I really want to save my three girls from the misery and frustration I experienced. In my zealous, dogged instruction on decision-making skills, I sometimes forget the most important aspect: my girls and I really need and desire strong relationships with each other. Their greater need is for a dad who is loving, caring and soothing. Unfortunately, all my criticism, judgment, correction, pushing, and demands for a higher standard sometimes get in the way. Even though they stemmed from good intentions, I regret the errors I’ve made in compromising our relationships for issues of lesser importance.
You see, without a good healthy relationship, all the educating and pushing I do to help my girls become the ones God desires, will be largely wasted energy. You see, Jesus died for us first. Only then did it become possible for us to have a relationship with God. That personal relationship with God empowers and enlightens us to absorb and apply His instruction for obedience. God never demands a certain level of obedience before deciding to have a relationship with us.
Satan wants us to think that God is always measuring us based on our merits, our obedience, and our output, and that he focuses on all our failures. Many of my patients tell me that’s how they perceive God. Many churches paint God as the God of exacting standards, and teach that you have to be totally cleaned up for Him to accept you. Not so! As usual, the exact opposite of Satan’s brainwashing is the truth.
God wants your relationship above all things. Glorifying and enjoying God, spending time with Him, and growing in your relationship with Him should be the highest priority in your life. The secondary priority is maintaining a tidy, structured, obedient life guided by God’s instruction manual.
Today, determine why you attend church on Sundays. Is it out of obedience? Or is it to actually relate to God and grow your relationship with Him and other believers? It sounds like a simple question. But search your heart before you answer. Be brutally honest with yourself. Although your answer might disappoint you, it just might push you back on the right path. When your relationship with God is strong, the “obedience” … doing the right things part of living … will quickly follow as you lovingly apply His instructions. Your heart for choosing obedience or relationship is your decision, so choose well.
Oh Father, I declare to You, my Lord, that glorifying You is a much higher priority than maintaining order in my life. I know if I focus on You, I will have the appropriate order. While I make this commitment to You, I realize I do spend too much energy on keeping things under control. When I do this, I lose sight of You. I want my life to display the deep desire of my heart: to glorify You in carefree cheerfulness. I pray this in the name of the one who was able to relate to and then obey You perfectly, Jesus Christ – and all God’s children say, AMEN!
“Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:40-42