We don't eat cheeseburgers that often here. It's slightly unhealthy, so I make burgers maybe five or six times a year, and Will really likes it when that's what's for dinner. So today was going to be one of those days. While I was getting the burgers ready, Will took the girls upstairs for a nap - and then he apparently decided to take a nap, too, because he didn't come back downstairs. I was trying to cook the burgers and keep Hannah content/quiet, and was getting really frustrated.
How dare he, I thought to myself. Here I am, trying to keep a fussy infant quiet and trying to cook these burgers just the way he likes them and he went and fell asleep! GGGGGGAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!! The least he could do is come down and keep Hannah quiet while I make these burgers for him!
Have you ever had a moment like that? ...or feel like your entire life is like that?! "I'm just trying to do something nice for someone, and they don't even care, and they're not even HELPING ME help them! They don't even notice?!?!?!"
As I was brooding in the kitchen, the following thought sauntered its way through my brain:
"...but he didn't ask."
Will didn't ask me to make hamburgers. I wanted to do that as a blessing for him, sure, but he didn't ask me to. How unfair was it of me, then, to get upset with him when I had put pressure on myself to keep a cranky child happy while I was trying to surprise Will with something that he thinks is great? And yet, here I was in my grumpiness, blaming Will for my stress.
My relationship with the Lord is like that, too, sometimes: "Thanks for taking all this stuff on, Lisha...but I didn't ask you."
God says in His Word that obedience is better than sacrifice: "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry." [1 Samuel 15:22-23] He is not interested in our extracurricular attempts to please Him; He is interested that we do what He asks of us. The pride in our hearts that tries to tweak what God asks into something that fits better into our comfort zone is 'as idolatry.' Refusal to obey is 'as the sin of witchcraft.'
Consider what Jesus says in Matthew 7:21-23:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
...and many will say to Him in that day: Lord, Lord, did I not serve on many church committees? did I not faithfully teach AWANA/VBS/Jr Church/Sunday School for many years? did I not give lots of food to the food pantry? did I not make lots of meals for sick, weary people? did I not sponsor many children overseas that have no money? did I not give up vacations and other leisurely things and donate that money for outstanding godly causes? see, see what I did for You, Lord?
Does He care about the lost, the homeless, the native peoples of other countries, the servicemen & women of our nation, the persecuted church, those with emotional, physical, or mental troubles, (fiil in any hurting people here)?! Of course He does; and He has equipped some people to fulfill each of those needs. But not everybody! And if He hasn't asked you to do those things - you are released from the guilt of not doing them! If He has called you to those things - do them with joy & thanksgiving!
We are each going to be accountable one day for what He has asked us to do - did we "doeth the will of our Father in heaven"?. If we are not careful to listen to His voice, and obey that which He has asked - and instead do as many good things as we want - we will find ourselves stressed and frustrated in this life because we are doing things He never asked us to do. We are taking on a burden that He never asked us to carry. Rethink those activities which you decided to do without asking God. And if He wants you to step down, it's okay...He's got it covered. He's sovereign, and He knows what needs to be done by whom. And when you have sought and discerned God's will for you in whatever season you're in - do it. DO IT. When we are quick to obey God and His Word and slow to add a bunch of extra good 'stuff' to our schedule, He blesses beyond what could be imagined. (Side note: to know God's will and His Word, you need to be reading, meditating on, and memorizing His Word daily - not what other people sing or write about it!)
Live your life in obedience to the Lord. It will be less stressful than trying to surprise God by doing a bunch of awesomely kind things for Him & other people. And it will be much, much sweeter for you to hear "well done, good and faithful servant!" then to hear "thanks, but...that's not what I asked" or even worse..."depart from me, for I never knew you."
P.S. A slight clarification. What I am not saying is that it is wrong to do kind things for people, or to be involved in church activities. God does call us to love our neighbors and to be a functioning part of the body of Christ - but if we are in tune with Him and are listening exclusively to His voice, He will reveal to us how He wants us to accomplish that, instead of blessing our futile attempts to burn ourselves out doing a little bit of everything!
I may be sharing this post over at the following Link-up parties!