This is what has struck me lately: I long to worship God in tough times. Martyr-like situations. Times when I am stretched and burned and lying flat. Times when I don’t know how I am going to get through the rest of my day. Times when people demand far too much of me and I have pushed myself to my limits.
I long to stretch my self, my abilities, and my strength thin and present it to God.
And what I have realized is that God is not automatically pleased by this.
In fact, he is not pleased any more by this than he is by a person with a collection of [gorgeous] Anthropologie coffee mugs and pretty clothes and delicately painted nails offering him their praise.
And I find this really hard to swallow.
But what I am realizing as I reflect on this situation is the fact that I [sinfully] am bent on analyzing, understanding, manipulating and controlling God’s affection towards me. I want him to see how hard I am working and how much I am sacrificing because I believe that then I will gain his affection.
Somehow, I cannot tolerate that God would bless me with wealth and then allow me to enjoy it.
See, this is the situation I am in: First, I live in a house (it’s a tiny, 2-bedroom thing, but a stand-alone HOUSE in Vancouver) – Matteo and I could have chosen to live in a basement suite to save money, or an apartment or something, but this house came up and we loved it, and so we have it. Second, I have a pretty swanky job. No, it’s not my dream job, but I work full-time for an established non-profit which pays me exceptionally well for being a non-profit, offers terrific benefits, and is not emotionally or physically taxing. Third, and this could have come first, but I guess it’s just all so new: I just got married. Married life is “hard” sure – in terms of working through disagreements about cleaning styles or routines or the same personality bump-ups that have been there since the beginning, but being with someone you love 100% of the time is not that difficult. It’s an amazing slumber party where you get to make coffee and kiss each other goodbye for work and return home for dinner and watch TV whenever you like in your PJs.
In other words, I am experiencing a period of amazing, amazing quietness. And it’s scary.
I feel like because I am not spending myself, God does not know me.
A friend and I were talking about a parallel situation the other day, where we both shared the feeling that we are more pleased with purchases that are a terrific deal than purchases where we have to spend the amount that something is worth. Somehow, using our wealth to enjoy purchasing things at cost, even if we will enjoy said purchase, feels less “good” to us than scrounging and scrimping and going without.
Yet, as I said above, I cannot help lately but to realize that God is not “more” pleased with those who struggle. God does not prohibit wealth. I think that reading Psalms like Psalm 112 help affirm this for me:
Blessed is the man who fears the Lord,
who greatly delights in his commandments!
His offspring will be mighty in the land;
the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Light dawns in the darkness for the upright;
he is gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with the man who deals generously and lends;
who conducts his affairs with justice.
And also I have been listening to the song, “Oh How I Need You.” And it’s weird for me to listen and sing this song while I remain in this situation of wealth – stillness, rest, abundance. I’d much rather be in crisis and need. But God doesn’t seem to see that to be fit for me right now. I need to need him even in abundance.
Oh, how I need You.