It’s as if I got a gift bag. You know, like the one everyone raves about at the Oscars. I walked down the aisle, received Christ as my Savior and went home with a bag full of popular notions and costly expectations.
In my bag was the idea that with God I would no longer have to worry about hardship. He would be my joy and fulfill my every desire. In my bag was the belief that if I prayed and fasted long enough God would have no other choice but to hear me and answer my prayers. In my bag was the expectation to live a life full of prosperity and wealth because I became joint-heirs with the Son of God. Ironically, this bag drained me. It led me down a path of disappointment and uncertainty. What should have been a life transformed for the glory of God, became a life full of broken promises and deferred dreams.
One perfect example of the misuse of God is found in I Samuel chapter 4. The Children of Israel decide to bring the ark of the covenant into their camp while in battle against the Philistines. Presumptuously assuming that the presence of God, which dwelled in the ark, would save them. It worked before, right? (See Joshua 6) But to their dismay they were defeated by the Philistines, who after killing thousands of men captured the ark of the covenant as plunder. What happened? How did the enemy of God defeat the people of God, with the presence of God?!
God is not a good luck charm. He’s not a Marvel character that sees us in trouble, swoops in and saves the day. He’s not a fairy godmother with magical powers that comes to relieve us of our troubles. God is ever-present and all-knowing. Walking with us through every mundane day. Seeking to commune with us. Pursuing our hearts and drawing us to Himself. He’s aware of our motives and knows the consequences of our misguided hopes. He is privy to our thoughts and already working in our tomorrows. Loving us so much that He would rather see us temporarily defeated than see us miss out on eternal victory.
Not until recently have I realized the real purpose of salvation. It’s not to fulfill me. It’s not to bring me good luck. It’s to realign me with my Creator. It’s to wash the scales from my eyes so I can see the fullness of God’s intention for my life, which is to be in communion with Him, for His glory. Don’t get me wrong, I have countless testimonies of God working in my favor, but the moment I reduce God’s existence to simply a means to an end is the moment I forfeit the one thing that truly satisfies: an authentic relationship with Him. One that is based on His presence in battle, rather than His ability to deliver me from battle.
What’s in your bag?