Well, I’ve Never Been Called That Before
October 15, 2014
By Laura DiFatta
When my oldest son was about four-years-old, I began sweeping our kitchen floor and I asked him to help me using his own little broom. I thought it would be a good—and I hoped fun—way for us to do a chore together and a way that he could learn to help. Well, the huffing and puffing and grumbling began. As I swept alongside him, I asked him why he was complaining. He answered, “I feel like I’m being treated like a slave!” I laughed ironically, because I was working too. I asked him, “Well, if you are a slave, what am I?” He quickly answered, “You’re the pharaoh.” I was stunned. Clearly, he had been paying attention in Sunday School when they taught about the Hebrews being enslaved by the Egyptians. However, I never thought I’d be compared to Pharaoh!
His answer was honest and he made his feelings clear. At least I knew how badly he felt he was being treated! Through the years, Ken and I have tried to help our three boys realize that as a part of a family unit, we each have a responsibility to help one another. Sometimes that means doing things that aren’t “fun,” or convenient, but are beneficial.
But much more importantly, the message that we have tried to get through to them is, “we want you to want to obey us and have a good attitude because we love you so much. We want you to be so grateful that you are loved and well cared-for that the overflow from your heart is joyful obedience.” Pie in the sky thinking? We are still in process, but we have seen progress.
I really think this example mirrors our journey with God just about as well as any. The apostle John who was Jesus’ disciple and friend while He walked this earth and was also an eye-witness of the resurrected Jesus, wrote in 1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.” In 1 John 5:3, John goes further to say, “”This is love for God: to obey his commands. And His commands are not burdensome.”
Throughout scripture, God woos us with His extravagant love, the most awesome and clear example of which is His sending His own Son Jesus as our burden-bearer, Rescuer, Salvation-bringing Savior. He gives us commands that are meant to keep us living in step with His will—which is good and perfect—bringing us peace, joy and life in the process. He desires our obedience out of a response to His first and best, active and on-going love for us.
Do you feel that God’s commands are burdensome? Do you recognize there are lots of ways that you are falling short, but you can’t seem to work up the desire to even want to change? So, you end up in an endless cycle of defeat not doing the things you really deep down know are best. (Can you tell I’ve been there?) What to do?
About 20 years ago, I heard some of the best advice I’ve ever heard. It was from respected Bible teacher Beth Moore. She said, “If you want to trust God more, pray more, desire God and the things of God more, pray to.” Two simple words. Two simple, life-changing words. Pray to.
So, I began to pray to. For example, I peeled back from action and began praying about my desires. For example: “God help me to use self-control over my mouth,” (action) to, “God, please help me even want to use self-control over my mouth.” (motive/desire) Another example of a struggle I have had is over my quiet time. My heart desire prayer: “Oh God, please help me desire your Word more than extra sleep.” Again, I had to back my prayers up from actions to the desires of my heart that were motivating my actions (or lack thereof) and attitudes.
I can tell you right now, God has answered and is still answering my prayers. And His answers are always good. Do you know that when we pray according to His Will, He answers, “Yes!” That is in His Word! And the more we trust Him and desire to please Him, the more our desires actually line up with His! Do not doubt for a second that God won’t answer your “prayer to” regarding things He already wants for you. You might even pray that He teaches you what those things are!
Learning to believe that He loved me first and that He loves me best and perfectly and faithfully no matter what, has motivated my heart to want to obey Him. And there is no greater motivation in my life than the Gospel. I no longer feel like a slave, working for a master who will never be pleased. I now know that I am a daughter of the King and He has shown me first-hand that His commands are life and best and they set my heart free!
Sometimes, I get spiritual amnesia and need my desires rekindled or I need a fresh perspective. I have learned that I need to pray to receive the refreshing of His Holy Spirit in my heart and mind.
So, if you are struggling today, if you are struggling with even desiring to want to, then… pray to. It will be so worth it. God hears and He is faithful.
Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”