October 11, 2014
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AUDIO VERSION: YouTube Podbean
In certain seasons of spiritual growth, the Holy Spirit will start convicting us about all kinds of things which seem rather nitpicky.
I don’t want you to keep watching that television show.
I don’t want you laughing at those kinds of jokes.
I don’t like the music you are listening to.
Get rid of that shirt—the message bothers Me.
Don’t get that tattoo. It offends Me.
Don’t hang out at that place with your friends. I don’t like the atmosphere.
Don’t get physical with your girlfriend—not even a light kiss.
Your shorts are too short to wear out in public.
Suddenly God is complaining about things that we always did before—things that we still think are no big deal. Living in a world like ours is like trudging through mud, and sometimes it sounds like God doesn’t want us to get a speck of dirt on us. Doesn’t He realize how hard it is to find media that doesn’t have some degree of immorality in it? Does He really expect us to live in a closet for the rest of our lives? Doesn’t He get that if we act too “holier than thou”, no one will want to hang out with us? During these periods of increased conviction, God starts taking many things out of our lives but He doesn’t come up with any replacements, so we are left with a growing void that only increases our frustration with trying to do right. What’s His point?
God is like a father who is standing in the middle of a large backyard, watching his young son play by the fence line. The father wants his son to move closer to him, but the son doesn’t want to move. He likes where he is. Instead of physically grabbing the son and hauling him to a new location, the father magically causes the fences around the yard to begin to move inward. As the area of the yard steadily shrinks, the boy ends up scooting closer and closer to the father as he continues to try and play around the fence line. Soon he’s right next to the father, and with nothing else to distract him, he starts giving his father his full attention for the first time. He and his father start playing together, and the boy gets so interested in his father that he doesn’t even notice as the fences start drifting back out again. Soon the yard is back to its original size, yet now the boy is voluntarily staying beside his father because he now finds his father more interesting than the things in the yard.
It is this same kind of effect that the Holy Spirit is after when He starts pulling in the fences of our freedom in life. The more He complains, the less activities we feel free to do, and the more frustrated we become. How do we stay motivated to keep respecting God’s picky requests? By focusing on how important He is to us and constantly deciding that honoring Him is more important than some temporary pleasure. The more we keep choosing this new set of priorities, the more adjusted we become to them, and the more important God’s opinion becomes to us. By the time He starts moving those fences back out again, our interest in raunchy movies and crude humor has diminished. We no longer find the world’s entertainment options so satisfying because now we are focused on wanting to please our Father. We want to stick close to Him, and we want to involve Him in whatever we do. When we do watch a movie with less than perfect contents, we are watching it with Him and we are hearing Him teach us valuable insights using the characters on the screen. God can use anything and everything to draw us closer to Him, but to benefit from the things of the world, we need our focus to be on Him. We need to be staying by His side. God uses constrictive convictions to get us there.