Demanding God’s power to do your own thing

Jesus was a rebel. The culture of His time was to revere the religious elite, and Jesus openly opposed them. In our current culture, the expectation is to defy authority, to live for yourself, to do what feels right, so following Jesus in our present-day culture is a form of rebellion.

So I guess the line we need to draw is who you’re rebelling against, because when you rebel against God, you’re asking for trouble. But what does rebelling against God even look like?

C3DC4DAA3EToday’s verse is Isaiah 53:6.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
    We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
    the sins of us all.

Each one of us has walked away from God’s best in our lives at least once. Some of us more than once. Some of us have made a lifestyle of abandoning the roads God says are the ones to travel on, and we’ve had to live with our consequences.

But what about the Christians who don’t want to walk away? What about those of us to seek God with everything we have and everything we are? Surely if we’re willing to sacrifice our comfort and our easy lifestyles, we couldn’t ever be rebellious, right?

The spirit of rebellion is tricky, because it stems from pride. And pride can be hard to recognize sometimes.

I like doing things my own way. I don’t like to wait for God to show me which path I’m supposed to take. Instead, I prefer to just rush ahead and deal with the consequences as they come. So many times in my life, if I had just waited for God to work, maybe things would have been different. But no. I’m not good at waiting. So I have to rush forward and do everything in my power to provide for myself.

I’m independent. I’m strong. I’m capable. That’s the way God made me, so if I don’t act independently, capably, and strongly then I’m not living up to my potential as a Christ-follower. Right? That’s what my brain tells me. But is that the truth?

Rebellion isn’t just doing the things God says are wrong. And it isn’t just not doing the things God says are right. Rebellion is a heart attitude that says it’s my way or the highway. Rebellion is demanding God’s resources so that you can do what you want. It’s issuing an ultimatum to the Lord so that you can accomplish your goals instead of His.

Just because you read your Bible every day doesn’t mean you’re on the same page as God. Just because you can quote Scripture and know the Bible forwards and backwards and can spout random trivia about left-handed judges and mysterious priests with unpronounceable names doesn’t mean that your goals and dreams are instantly God’s will for your life.

No. You have to ask.

Have you taken your dreams and goals to God? Have you asked Him about doing what you want to do? Have you taken the time to wait and listen for His answer to make sure that the path you’re on is the right one? If you haven’t, if you’re just blundering through life doing what you want, how do you know you’re not doing more harm than good?

We’ve all wandered away. Every last one of us. But if you know Jesus, you don’t have to pay the price for that foolish choice. Jesus already did. You just have to accept it. But that doesn’t mean you can keep wandering off without consequence.

God will save you if you ask. Freely. Just as you are. No strings attached.

But don’t expect that you can demand His power and His resources and His strength and then just run off and do whatever you want. No, friends, it doesn’t work that way. If you want God’s power in your life, you’ve got to live your life on His terms. That means you do what He says. That means you take the positions He provides. That means you treat people the way He treats people. That means you see yourself the way He sees you.

If you’re living life on God’s terms, I can guarantee that your life won’t look like what you expect it should. But you’ll have everything you need. God will provide it. And if you make Him the center of your life, one day you’ll wake up and find that all your dreams have come true.

Sheep at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Sense of direction

Do sheep have a sense of direction? I don’t know. I know they’re creatures of habit, but just because they can get into a routine doesn’t mean they know where they’re going when left to their own devices. As far as I’m concerned, sheep have two settings, hungry and scared. And if they aren’t one, they’re the other.

Sheep at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Sheep at the Sedgwick County Zoo - Wichita, KS

Today’s verse is Isaiah 53:6.

All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

I’ve blogged before about how similar we are to sheep. The more you know about sheep, the more you’ll realize how much we’re alike. If you leave a sheep on its own, it will walk the same path day after day because it’s the path it has always followed. And even if there isn’t any food on that path, it will keep looking for it until it walks itself to death.

When you’re raising sheep, you have to establish a routine that you repeat daily. If you don’t, they get scared. I was told during my days raising sheep for 4-H that you would increase your chances of your sheep surviving through the fair if you played a radio in their barn stall constantly. Because there would be radios at the fair, and if the sheep isn’t used to it, it’ll drop dead in fright.

And you also have to establish a feeding schedule every day. You can’t just put all their food in the stall with them because they won’t stop eating when they’re full. They’ll eat themselves to death. And you have to mix salt in with their food instead of providing a salt block because they’ll chew holes in their teeth.

Does any of that sound familiar? Maybe we don’t chew holes in our teeth per se and maybe radios don’t scare us and maybe we can fend for ourselves a little better than sheep can, but how different are we really? I make fun of sheep for lacking a sense of direction, but my sense of direction is no better. Because when I wander off on my own, I get into all sorts of trouble.

There are so many times I am sure I know where I’m going. And I’m confident that even if I get into a sticky situation, I can handle myself well enough to get out unscathed. But it rarely happens that way. I’ve gotten really good at turning around when I’m trying to navigate a city I don’t know. But it’s one thing to turn around when you’ve taken a wrong turn while you’re driving. It’s something else to turn around when you’ve made a wrong choice in life.

Wrong choices in life don’t just affect me. Getting lost in life doesn’t just have an impact on my situation; it affects the people around me too. And the really ironic part of it is that I would never get lost if I just stayed on the path God laid out.

That’s why sheep need shepherds. They aren’t capable of taking care of themselves. So someone has to provide food for them or show them where they can find food. And sheep know that, as much as a sheep can know anything. That’s where we are different. We think we can take care of ourselves. We think we can survive on our own. We think we don’t need a shepherd because if we have a shepherd that means we aren’t in control of our lives.

But shepherds know where to find food. Shepherds know where to find water. They know how to take care of their sheep. Shepherds aren’t enemies with their sheep; their sheep are their livelihood. So why wouldn’t a shepherd want the best for them?

I’m not saying we are God’s livelihood, but why wouldn’t He want the best for us? The issue comes when His best doesn’t match our expectations, and that’s when we walk away from Him and get lost looking for food along our own path. We’re fortunate that He comes looking for us.

It’s the shepherd’s job to know how to take care of  his sheep. It’s God’s job to know how to take care of us. And maybe there are times when it doesn’t feel like God is leading me along a fun path, but I need to trust that He knows where He’s going because I don’t.