I spent four wonderful, exhausting days caring for three of my grand boys in November. The two days after their parents got back, I shopped and cooked our family’s Thanksgiving dinner, and the day after that, cleaned it all up by myself.
I decided to take the next week off and recover, doing nothing before diving into Christmas decorating the week after that.
I enjoy knitting as a way to relax, and 7 days and 10 knitted hats later, realized that I am unable to do “nothing” very well. I’d turned my relaxing-hack into a knitting frenzy from you-know-where. I couldn’t wait for the week to end so I could get back to my regular life.
This is the kind of trouble I have when I try to trust God and rest. I know it’s good for me, and I really try to do it. But I end up trying so hard that I’m better-off back where I started, asking for his help.
I’m a closet Universe Runner.
Genesis 3 and 4 tell me that sin entered the world when Eve did what God said not to do: eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Her sin infected Adam who followed suit, as well as their children—one son killed the other out of jealousy for God’s favor.
Murder is obviously wrong, but what was so bad about eating fruit?
It’s what she wanted that was wrong—to be like God, to be God himself, “God-greedy,” as Eugene Peterson puts it. She wanted to know what God knew, both good and evil, despite what he’d already said about it being none of her business, Gen 3:6.
Ironically, she didn’t become more God-like after eating. She was more Satan-like. Blind, she thought she knew best about what was good for her. Proud, she exalted herself over God and his words, grabbing at his glory right along with his knowing. These were the very reasons Satan was thrown out of heaven, Is 14:12-14; Ez 28:12-18.
Eve distrusted that God was already giving her everything she needed, but paradise just wasn’t enough to satisfy her. What she had after eating was a fistful of nothing. Wide-eyed, both Adam and Eve saw their nakedness and shame, and rather than repent, they hid and then blamed, Gen 3:7-13.
This is beginning to feel familiar.
I am well named. I’m God-greedy, too. I want to be almighty, limitless, all knowing, all glorious, ever present, running at least my-little-corner-of-the-universe. I want to save the world, right wrongs, put all the pieces together, figure out the plan, do all the work, get all the credit.
I could go on and on, but I’m sure you get it.
The hardest thing for any of us to do is simply trust that God is God, so we don’t have to be. We can rest. We can work. We can even enjoy the day and play. God says that those who love him will “frolic like well-fed calves,” Mal 4:2.
While I fight it, its always a little relieving to remember that I don’t run the universe, not even my little corner, or bring about world peace. I’m not expected to. I don’t have to meet every need. I’m not God. These things are his job. Mine is to listen to him and do what he says, trusting he knows what’s best, not me. I can do just about any hard thing, except trust and rest.
Matthew 3:1-6 tells me about John the Baptist, the popular prophet who doesn’t God-grab, even when he finds himself fulfilling prophecies from ancient Scripture, even when folks are flocking to hear him preach in the wilderness, confessing their sins right and left and being baptized in the Jordan river.
“Repent! God’s coming!” he said in his camel hair clothing, eating insects and wild honey, bedding down in the desert, Mt 3:1-6. Repentance is always the first step in coming to God, his gift to hard hearts that would rather not. If you are at all inclined to repent, take heart that God is already calling you. “It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us: it is the very sign of his presence,” C. S. Lewis.
John saw an enormous revival among the people of Israel as a result of his preaching, but he didn’t let it go to his head. He did’t gussy up, didn’t change his address, didn’t change what he said. He didn’t forget who God was or the job God gave him. He spoke God’s words and stayed put, “Get ready for God! Straighten up!”
He pointed people to God, not himself, and he trusted that this life of listening to God’s words and doing what he said was best for him, too. This was his message to the masses who came to him, and it was the message he himself lived in the desert, a deliberately uncomfy life, I’m guessing, so that he would look to God alone.
I’m taking notes.
Psalm 2 tells me thar God laughs at the nations who defy and deny him to exalt themselves. God-greedy, glory-grabbers, God gets angry with them and warns them to humble themselves and serve him, Ps 2:1-6.
Who does God exalt? His Son. The way to live in proper relationship with God and to avoid his anger is by adoring Jesus. “Kiss the Son!” the psalmist recommends, Ps 2:10-12.
Loving Jesus requires repenting, since we’re always falling short of adoring. This is why John the Baptist came before Jesus, preparing the way for him-in-us, urging our turning to him.
Repentance is a continual offering, a daily yielding. The temptation to be God-greedy and glory-grabbing is always lurking. But if we accept God as God, and Jesus as the exalted One, we worship and give glory to him, not ourselves.
Repenting, worshiping, praising…all of these are antidotes for our temptation to self-worship. The psalmist instructs, “Worship God in adoring embrace, celebrate in trembling awe. Kiss Messiah! Your very lives are at stake…” Ps 2:11-12.
After posting yesterday, “January 1–Wanted,” I felt tempted to glory-grab myself by over checking my stats. How many views? How many likes? What does it really matter? This information doesn’t fill me up. If it could, I’d stop checking it. I was looking at numbers for a validation only God can give me.
Teach me to live a quiet life, eating honey from the rock that you bring me, God. I want to “be content to fill a little space,” and sometimes I am—but lately, I’m not. Like the other Eve, I’m tempted to think I know best and that you’re holding out on the good stuff.
Thanks for this reminder today to repent, to trust and rest, to adore Jesus. These are the things I truly need in my little corner-of-the-universe.
“A Greed to Be God,” Eugene Peterson in The Message Devotional Bible, 2018, p. 13.
The C. S. Lewis quote comes from Letters (20 January 1942).
“Content to fill a little space,” comes from the hymn, “Father I Know That All My Life,” by Anna Waring.
The Bible passages for January 2 come from The One Year Bible, 2004.