I was driving through the Mojave Desert at nearly 100 miles an hour in Ken’s 1980-something, white Buick LeSabre (complete with red leather interior). We called this smooth-running, former Budweiser company car his pimpmobile. It was really fun to drive his car. At the time, I drove a 1978 manual transmission, Honda Civic with no radio or AC. Driving the hooptie was a luxury for me. I was in route to visit Ken at the houseboat camp he was directing on Lake Mohave for the summer. It was his 22nd birthday and I was looking forward to celebrating with him in the local Casinos.
We’d been dating for about 6 months and 3 of those months we were separated for the summer break. This was the time before cell phones and email, so we wrote letters and occasionally he would call me from the camp satellite phone. I was the lucky one in the relationship to get to buy the first gift. I was pretty nervous. Being me, I wanted to make sure the gift had meaning. I talked to his roommate and decided to get him a simple cross necklace. Those of you who know him are probably already laughing. You guessed it… not exactly the right gift for my man. I have since learned that Ken DOES NOT do jewelry. He was very sweet, but politely told me he would never wear it. I offered to return it and get something new but he decided to keep it. I’m pretty sure it is still tucked into a box somewhere in the attic along with our summer letters.
It’s hard to give a gift to someone you barely know, especially if you want to impress them. I think we often do this with God. We get excited about his love for us or feel guilty about bad behavior and we make up our mind to do “SOMETHING GREAT” for God! We make plans to open a food pantry, run an orphanage or share the gospel with everyone we meet, without taking the time to get to know God and to find out what He really wants from us. Here is what Henry Blackaby, the author of the 1990’s hit “Experiencing God”, had to say about this type of thinking:
“If Christians around the world were to suddenly renounce their personal agendas, their life goals, and their aspirations, and begin responding in radical obedience to everything God showed them, the world would be turned upside down. How do we know? Because that's what first century Christians did, and the world is still talking about it.”
Why is it so hard to believe God doesn’t want us to “DO STUFF” for him. He wants to provide for us, love us and be in a relationship. He doesn’t need our acts of heroism. In fact, many times when we do step out in front of Him with our great, inspiring plans to “help”, we cause more damage than care. He tells us over and over again to just trust in Him…
In verse 5 of the 23rd Psalm, we get to see this even clearer. “You are making a table of food ready for me in front of those who hate me. You have poured oil on my head. I have everything I need.”
When we are so unlucky as to have a meal with someone who had made it clear they not only don’t like us but are intent on seeing us fail, we eat quickly. We make sure there’s a friend on either side of us, ensure we get the best of the food. We take the steak, leaving the veggies for them and pray for a quick ending to the evening. But, in this scripture, nothing is hurried, there is no competition, no fighting. The enemy is right there while God prepares and provides a meal. And the Christian sits down and eats as if everything was perfectly peaceful.
In Mark 4, we find Jesus in a boat teaching the crowds who are standing on the shore. He tells the parable of the Growing Seed.
“26 Jesus also said, “Here is what God’s kingdom is like. A farmer scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day the seed comes up and grows. It happens whether the farmer sleeps or gets up. He doesn’t know how it happens. 28 All by itself, the soil produces grain. First, the stalk comes up. Then the head appears. Finally, the full grain appears in the head. 29 Before long the grain ripens. So the farmer cuts it down because the harvest is ready.”
Basically, we are the farmer. We get to join in on the planting and the harvest, but really God does it all! He is the provider! We simply need to invest our time in loving and getting to know Him. When we do this, even in the presence of those who hate us, we will be at peace. Our cup will overflow and pour out into blessings for others.
All this to say, if you are just getting to know God, simply spend time with him. Learn to trust him to be your provider and don’t stress about getting Him the perfect gift. All He wants is a relationship with you. As you grow stronger in this love affair with God, His love will pour out of you in everything you say and do. Suddenly, you will find yourself living an overflow life.