I had a revelation at church today. It was the simplest of things. The speaker was Hillsong United’s front man, Joel Houston. He started out very nervous about what he would say because he isn’t a pastor obviously, he is a writer and musician. It was so interesting to me that he seemed to not have a plan up there. I think it’s hard to be an articulate speaker when you are a writer, it ends up all kind of just falling out of your mouth with no structure and your points get all mixed together. It’s much easier to convey a point when you can sit behind a screen or a pen and just let it all come out before being judged by other humans.
Joel Houston went up on stage and just talked about God. He didn’t have bullet points, or a piece of paper. He literally just talked about what he knew of God, and then what he knows of himself and people. He talked about the complexity of the Lord, how infinite He was, how we don’t have the words to describe even a minute amount of His characteristics. He talked about how impossible it was for us to wrap our minds around how infinite He is. How His possibilities are endless and how we could never ascertain to understand the mind of God and why He does things, or how He unfolds things in the way that He does. We can’t predict what He will do.
He used Romans 11:33-35:
“Oh, the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgements, and His path beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things”
He used this verse also to put into perspective doubt. People who can’t understand God, so many extremely scientific and intelligent people can’t believe in Jesus because the entire premise is just completely illogical. Faith is not logical. It can’t be given, it can’t be earned. It’s a light switch God turns on in your heart or He doesn’t. It’s being able to acknowledge that there is something bigger, more purposeful, more powerful than you, or you can’t.
It was refreshing and beautiful to hear a sermon like this, where there was no story, no play on words. He only talked about God and His infinite wisdom, goodness, and love, and then his own, our own, brokenness. I was thankful for Joel Houston’s brokenness because I know how much it’s produced. I love when I’m listening to a worship song, and I’m like wow I can relate to this, and wow whoever wrote this is real. They’ve struggled.
He said, “I go through phases where everything is going well and I’ve got it all figured out, I’ve got it all down, and then everything goes down hill and I’m back on my knees again. And it just keeps repeating itself, I have it all figured out, then it comes crashing down. Then I realized, I need to put myself on my knees or God will put me there.”
All of his talk of God’s love and glory and power and goodness, and Joel’s brokenness, and the cycle of thinking you have it together and then you don’t, just came flooding together me for me to make one major, simple, but pivotal point: God wants my whole heart. That is all He wants from me. The God of everything, all knowing and all powerful, created people, created me, so that they could love Him with their whole heart, and to have pleasure and joy from taking in His glory.
I work and strive to serve the right amount, to reflect Him the right amount, to read my bible enough to be wise and know the answers, to know Him enough to have a foothold in life, and to guide myself down the right path. I learn more of Him so that I can decipher right from wrong, good from bad, so that I can feel the Holy Spirit in my heart, leading me and stirring and moving. So I can have purpose. I never feel more purposeless than when I’m far from Jesus. I work for knowledge and wisdom and to be a good leader, and I work so that my life will work out, so that I can marry a good man, have a good family, have good friends, to help people and really contribute to goodness and blessing people in the world, of sewing Christ into the world, and to have a fruitful life. I am carefully putting together all the puzzle pieces but the puzzle is too complicated, and I want certain parts of the puzzle to be finished now. I don’t want to work at the puzzle anymore or I at least want to take a nice long hiatus from working on the puzzle. I’m constantly thinking about what I’m going to do next to complete the puzzle of my life, and to be better. My heart is divided. It’s divided among things that are “good” like seeking wisdom, good friends, a good career, filling myself with Jesus, taking what I can from my relationship with God. But there are underlying motives under each area, and looking at my life, I feel convicted that very little of it has to do with love. I know that I love the Lord. I’m empty without Him, I crave His presence. If I have 4 days with no alone time with God, I don’t even recognize myself. However, that is all for me. I spend time with Him so that I will be full. I soak up His word so that I will know the answers, and that I will know the way. I follow Him because it is good, and right. I would say it’s 30% out of love. If i’m being honest. I would tell you that I am in love with Jesus, and I am – but the things I’m doing, the day in and day out things that I do are not stemming from a place of love, of surrendering my whole heart to God no matter what that looks like.
I mean, can you believe that all the maker of the universe wants from me is my whole heart? My undivided attention and love? To follow Him freely and surely. He made the mountains and the oceans and the hills and the sun, and the seas, He made them for my JOY. For me to enjoy. For me to see His grandeur and know more of Him.
I’m starting to love that He has complete control over me. That He tells me to listen to Him, to be obedient to Him. This is coming from someone who if my teacher or mother or cop or anyone ever told me what to do, I did the complete opposite in spite of them because I could not let someone else control what I did. Authority issues to say the least. Now, as I grow, I’m loving the fact that He has complete sovereignty over me, and that He is bending me to His will. That He gives me guidelines, and that I am to live by those. I can’t even give you a reason why, besides it feels good to know that I’ve been broken down to the point that I know His way is better than my way. Humbled, I guess. And it’s thrilling almost (sometimes) to be on a road that is completely different than I ever imagined. It’s glorious to know that I had nothing to do with getting here, that He had everything to do with getting me here, and that I’m not in control. I just want to sit in the back seat and watch out of the window as God leads my life to wherever it goes.
Everyone loves to throw around Jeremiah 29:11, the good old “I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper, and give you hope, and a future”. Yes. Amen to that. But going a little past that, Jeremiah 29:13 says “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, and I will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you”. Sometimes, God gives us over to our idols. Idols hold us in captivity. Idols are anything that fixate us that is not God. Idols are things that we can’t give up even when we know those things make us more sinful and separate us from God. When we stray from Him over and over, when we choose something else over Him over and over, sometimes He will let us go over to our thoughts and desires. Romans 1 says “He gave them over to sinful desires…He gave them over to shameful lusts…He gave them over to a depraved mind”. God can and will “banish” us, when we keep saying no to Him, we keep running back to the world, and we keep turning our backs on Him. He will give us over when we say yes to the same sin over and over and over, when we are operating with a divided heart. You can’t say yes to the world, and yes to God. You can’t seek after God only to get from point A to point B.
I want to give over my whole heart. I want every day to be spent on my knees. It’s my track record to be close to Jesus in the desperate times, and then give Him 10% of my time in the good times, when everything I want in the world is falling into place. Then, in the same way that Joel Houston talked about today, He always brings me back to my knees. When I get up and brush myself off, and start trekking out in my own way, He always brings me back to my knees. It will inevitably come crashing down.
Another funny side effect of spending so much time in the “crashing down” side of things, is that I’ve come to cherish this time. I know there is no other time where I seek after the Lord so diligently than when I am in need. When Peter said rejoice in various kinds of trials, he was right on the money. I’m never more aware of, and more thirsty for God than when I’m in need. But it’s always a need for something; help me to get through this phase of missing people and being home sick, help me to get through this phase of being sad, help me to be better at X so that I can get to Y, help me figure out your plan for me.
I want to be face down in front of the Lord when I am on the mountain top. I want to love Him with an undivided heart so that what I’m seeking after every day is only Him. I don’t want Him to be a means to an end or a way of life. I want Jesus to be the center of my world, my focal point from which everything else I do flows from. I want Him to be my alpha, and omega from which everything begins and ends. I want to love Him as radically as He has loved me, and in that it will lead me to love other people in the same way. I want to pour my whole heart into loving God. I don’t want me being on my knees and pressed into the Lord to be circumstantial. I want it every day.
Can you imagine, how much more our lives would amount to if we lived for Him, rather than for the minuscule, minute, moot things that we are striving after day in and day out. Things that we strive for are mostly distractions – getting to a certain point in your career, getting to a certain point in your relationship. Our purpose, our soul reason for being created was to know and be known by God, and to share Him with other people, and to do His work here. I think we are either doing our work, or His work. My prayer is that those would align. I know I’m guilty of doing my work. Of setting my heart on things I want, that I’ve conjured for myself, and not setting my heart on Him. He is the end goal. Everything else is just an added blessing, and gift, so that He is glorified in our lives by giving us good. I’m not saying that a good job, or a good marriage is insignificant, but I am saying that those things are not THE thing. Those things are not what we are to be fixated on, but we are to be fixated on Him. Those things will fall into place, from Him, as a blessing to us, when we are fixated on Him. So why am I striving for everything else? I want to strive for Him alone. I want to be fixated on Jesus.