“What sorrow awaits my rebellious children,”
says the Lord.
“You make plans that are contrary to mine.
You make alliances not directed by my Spirit,
thus piling up your sins.
For without consulting me,
you have gone down to Egypt for help.
You have put your trust in Pharaoh’s protection.
You have tried to hide in his shade.
Isaiah 30:1-2 (Emphasis mine)
- Whose plans do I carry out when I over look my prayers day after day?
- Whose plans do I carry out when I avoid the opportunity to serve my loved ones?
- Whose plans do I carry out when I am discontent with what I have and where I am in life?
It is never in his will for me to be lazy and ungrateful. Nor is it God’s will for me to turn the other way when I have the ability to help someone else. I carry out my own plans and rely on myself because my natural instinct is to turn inward toward comfort and pleasure.
So then does that mean God just wants for me to miserably do grunt work? Is Christianity just a slave train where we serve everyone and forget about our own happiness? No! God richly gives us all we need for our enjoyment (1 Timothy 6:17). I think it’s just that a person who is truly after the heart of Jesus does not define happiness in the same way as the world does. Joy is “the happy state that results from knowing and serving God” (Holman).
So when I go against my instinct and get up earlier and pray, he teaches me discipline in that quiet, sleepy time. And when I decide to use my morning break to make breakfast for my husband (instead of sitting and reading with my coffee as I would do for myself), He is teaching me how to serve cheerfully and love my husband. He teaches us by so many little experiences and brings us even more joy than we could have manifested by doing it “my way” — he really is after bringing us Joy! There is one catch, though…
We have to let him.
He cant force holiness like a puppeteer could force a dance. We have to see his tugging on our hearts and say, “Ok, I’ll step out and do this thing that feels awkward and sometimes painful…” and when we do he does not forget it. Just like the Judge who sees all the bad things we do He sees all the good! He sees your struggles and little victories, everything from the childish tantrums to half-hearted attempts to bursts of inspiration from the Holy Spirit that seem to come from nowhere. He sees it and he is pleased. And so we don’t lose heart when we realize that it’s hard. Because He sees our efforts and rises to help and bless us as we carry them out.