I tend to make lists and set agendas and high ideals for myself. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I should do and then planning to do it. The thing is, I rarely accomplish my ideals and I for sure don't accomplish them for an extended period of time. Then I beat myself up and tell myself that since I failed at that I fail at everything, etc. It's a downward spiral.
So today, after hearing that phrase in prayer I immediately prayed and asked the Lord what I should do about the fact that I keep disappointing myself, that I can't seem to live up to my expectations. Then it hit me: those are MY expectations, not HIS!
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10 NIV).
Often my aspirations for myself are not really to please Jesus, but myself. I want to project a certain image so I feel that I must do certain things. Or I'm just trying to be perfect which is ridiculous because I'm really messed up and that's why I need Jesus in the first place. That and He's God.
Relieved at the thought that I didn't need to focus on pleasing myself, but I pleasing God, I then began contemplating how I could know I was pleasing God. I could look up verses in the Bible. I could find a good book on the subject. I could make a list! Really? I don't know if I should be horrified or just laugh at myself.
I really want a list.
But Jesus isn't sitting in Heaven, with a checklist, evaluating my performance. Sure, there are things He would like me to do and things He would prefer I not do (ok, some that He hates when I do), but what He really wants is a relationship with me.
Yep, a walking, talking, everyday, imperfect (on my part) relationship with me. One where He is the sovereign, loving Father and I am the obedient, trusting, loving child. That means daily, moment-by-moment conversation. Yes, I said conversation. Not just talking to God at a designated prayer time, in your daily quiet time, in a moment of crisis, or when you're reading the Bible, but just all the time. And then listening to Him as He replies.
I truly believe that He LOVES, LOVES, LOVES it when we talk to Him and include Him in our daily lives. I think that's what pleases Him and leads to more trust, obedience, and love in His children. Practicing the Presence is a concept I've been thinking about a lot over the past 7-8 months and it really has dramatic effects. Consciously choosing to acknowledge Christ's Presence in every moment of your life. Truly, this is one of the most amazing things I've ever experienced. Practicing the Presence can make taking the trash out a profound experience. Just thinking that Jesus is with me always.
Never will I leave you. Never will I forsake you. (Hebrews 13:5 NIV).
When I'm reading, sleeping, cooking, working, walking, driving, talking to friends - He's there. Changes everything. And gives me more freedom and joy fthan I've ever known.
But I have to KEEP reminding myself of this, practicing it, and experiencing its truth, because for some reason I default into desperately wanting that stupid list!