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If you think you are someone who doesn’t deserve the mercy of God, you’re right. You certainly do not deserve His mercy. The fact that you realize this puts you a lot farther down the road than all of these arrogant souls who think that they do deserve God’s mercy. No one deserves God’s mercy. That’s what mercy is: showing compassion and favor to those who don’t deserve it.
So does God find being merciful a strain? Not at all. In fact, He loves it. God is the kind of Being who gets high on being merciful, kind, compassionate, loving, and gracious towards those He has made. God loves taking care of His little creatures, and that includes you. God loves you just as you are. He made you on purpose because it pleased Him to do so. Everyone begins their life by doing one act that greatly pleases God: they come into being. The day you went from being an idea in God’s mind to a living human, He was beaming with joy. God loves every soul that He creates: period. That’s one of the sweet advantages of being God: you don’t have to create anything that you don’t want to create. God created you because He wanted you, and now here you are. So far, so good.
So if God has such a lofty opinion of us humans and if He is so into us, what about His terrifying wrath? What about Him reaming people out for not having enough faith or not trusting or not trying hard enough? What determines how God responds to you personally? When you go to pray, how do you know if your little thoughts are something God wants to listen to or not? It depends on how you are responding to God internally. When we respond to God in ways that please Him, He never gets upset with us. So what pleases God? The true answer to this question is something we’re rarely taught in church.
God loves you and He wants a close, personal relationship with you. But He’s particular about the kind of relationship that He wants. He doesn’t want you to be His peer or His assistant or His instructor. What makes God annoyed with our prayers is when they are driven by dominating attitudes. “Do this. Do that. Give me this. Stop giving me that.” Who do you think you are? You are not God’s boss, and it annoys Him when you talk to Him only when you want something. Where is the heart in that? Where is the communion? When you hang out with your friends, you share your random thoughts with them just to do it. Well, God wants a piece of that action. He doesn’t need this “Dear Lord” and “In Jesus’ Name, amen” stuff. What’s with the formal openings and closings like you’re writing Him some kind of email, clicking send, and then going on with your life like He’s not even there? God doesn’t want you to give Him these verbal sign offs, He wants your communication with Him to be ongoing. What He likes is when you talk to Him like He’s right there beside you. In the grocery store: “I think I’ll make pasta for dinner tonight, God, unless You have a better idea.” In bed: “Lord, I can’t even imagine how You created everything from nothing. You’re so incredibly huge.” In the car: “God, I love the idea that You’re right beside me all the time. Help me to get more in touch with that.” At church: “This sermon doesn’t sound right to me, Lord. I want to know Your truth—truth that isn’t all mixed in with lies. Fill my mind with Your wisdom and help me honor You in life.” Reading the Bible: “God, You sound so scary in this passage. Help me understand why You’re flipping out on these people. It makes me worry that You might suddenly get mad at me.” This is the kind of communication God loves: real, honest, unscripted, and ongoing. You’re not just listing off your problems and telling God how to fix them. You’re involving Him in your life: giving Him chances to talk to you about the little things. You’re reaching out to Him and wanting to know Him better. This is the kind of communication God loves.
God is your GOD, and He’s never going to be anything less than that. So when you approach Him like He’s just a really smart human being with super powers, He’s annoyed. When you approach Him like He’s your useful assistant in life, or when you talk to Him like you’re smarter than He is, He finds it tiresome. When you’re constantly trying to help and add to Him, you’re missing the point. God didn’t make you because He needed you to constantly produce good works for Him like some kind of machine. He didn’t create you so He could stand off in the distance watching you be a whirlwind of productivity. He made you so He could cradle you in His lap and have soft conversations with you while you lean against Him feeling relaxed and safe. That is God’s ideal relationship dynamic: you delighting in simply being with Him while you let Him worry about everything else. We start off miles away from there, and it takes a whole lot of learning and maturing to get there. But this is the direction God will always move us in: trusting, resting, and communing.
Once you understand the kind of dynamic God wants to have with you, it helps you understand how He is going to respond to your weaknesses and fears. Does a good human father shove his toddler off of his lap when the child is feeling frightened by the noise of a storm? No, a good human father pulls his child even closer and says gentle, comforting things to her. It is the same with God: the more upset you are, the more compassionately He responds. Too often we’re taught by the Church that if we don’t approach God with mega-faith and unwavering confidence, He’ll get annoyed and shove us away. But no, this isn’t true at all. God didn’t design you to be a strong pillar of steel. He designed you to be a frail, quivering leaf. Human beings are such delicate creatures: the smallest things distress and frighten us. One word crushes us. One news headline terrifies us. One bad experience scars us for life. Why did God make us so fragile and weak? Because He delights in being our strength. He wants us to desire the kind of dynamic that He wants to have with us: the one where we just sit on His lap, leaning against Him, basking in the comfort that comes from knowing that His strong arms will never let us go. To shrink back from talking to God because you’re a cowardly, doubting, insecure mess is all backwards. The more of a mess you’re in, the more eagerly God is reaching out to you, calling you to come running over to Him so He can pull you close and assure you that everything will be alright. He doesn’t want you to wait until you think you have your act together. It frustrates Him when His kids refuse to come close because they think they’ve got life handled on their own. It frustrates Him when His kids are so busy trying to earn His favor by doing that they don’t take time to just be with Him. Now being with God doesn’t mean you have to go sit in a prayer closet until you’re falling asleep. Being with God is an internal attitude of receptivity towards the Holy Spirit. It means you share your thoughts with Him throughout the day and let Him keep reminding you that He is always with you and always interested in sharing your experiences. You live with God instead of trying to live for God.
So then, who does God delight in the most? Those who accept their frailness and embrace their total dependency on Him. The fact that you’re doubting, fearful, and timid is never going to get in God’s way. The fact that you feel unworthy of His love and mercy just makes it that much easier for you to settle into the correct dynamic with Him: the one in which you don’t bring anything to the relationship but a sincere desire to commune with Him and He handles everything else. It’s not on you to mature yourself. It’s not on you to fix the mess that you are inside. It’s not on you to scrape up faith or figure out how to overcome your own fears. God has intentionally fixed it so that you can’t do any of these things on your own, because He wants to do them for you. It’s when we’re sitting on His lap, feeling utterly incapable and overwhelmed by our own shortcomings that God thrives in His Self-appointed roles as our Savior, Counselor, Healer, and Comforter.
God delights in creatures who know they are weak. We are all weak, but many of us are constantly trying to downplay and deny this reality. This is why God breaks us down with trials and saddles us with burdens that we cannot stand up under. It’s when we’re overwhelmed that we give up on pride and come running to Him. It’s when we’re feeling scared that we choose to stay longer in His embrace. So if He isn’t fixing you or healing you or making you all perfect, it has nothing to do with rejection. It has everything to do with keeping you close to Him. God wants you to stay close. He created you for the sheer delight of holding you, loving on you, and quietly talking with your soul. He enjoys these things so much that He wants to keep doing them forever. This is what He has in mind when He promises us eternal life.
Does God love us all the same?
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