We Limit God’s Presence in Our Lives

Nov 12, 2018

How can we truly give God power over our lives when we so limit what He can do in our lives by the ways we think of Him and how we are in this world? I’ve been thinking about the limitations of our thinking and how our idea of God is distorted in so many ways. Here are just a few.

  • By thinking of God only as the Father, we see God as just a bigger human being who would exercise power like we would if we only had the position.
  • By seeing the word God as a noun rather than a verb, we keep God in a set of expectations and don’t see all that He is doing in this world.
  • By hoping that He will fulfill our desires and expectations rather than His own.
  • By thinking that God will take care of all the sin and pain in the world when He has all these people here who could do it for Him if only they would follow His lead!
  • By not entering into the Great Mystery that we call God, by not heeding his “still, small voice.”[1]
  • By seeing through our world-conditioned lenses rather than moving into Christ’s mind.
  • By limiting ourselves to how we are taught to believe and behave as God’s children rather than letting God inform and shape us.

 

These are just some of the ways that our thinking about God is skewed to make Him smaller, less powerful, less active in the world and conforming to the ways of a powerful human king or despot. Do you recognize any of your attitudes towards God in this list? Or are there other ways that you limit God in your life? Are you disappointed that God doesn’t do what you want Him to do? Are you thrilled when you seemingly get your way? Or do you ask to be relieved of any suffering and pain without first asking, what am I to learn from this, Lord?

 

If we don’t acknowledge the Mystery of who God is and how any definition is simply limited to human terms, we are limiting how powerful and fulfilling He can be in our lives. All these limitations give us a way of holding off what He might ask of us. If He can’t talk to us directly, if we refuse to listen to whatever doesn’t conform to our ways and our views of what He would ask of us, we are relieved of the necessity of following Him, even as we pledge our undying love! Partiality is always more comfortable than a total commitment.

 

What if He wants us to go to Africa or Asia and be a missionary? What if He calls me to something I would hate? If I can hold Him at arm’s length, then I don’t have to hear His calls. I don’t have to hate what He is saying to me. I don’t have to deal with His challenges.

 

Even as we profess great belief in God, we can hold Him at bay and not pay attention to what we don’t want to hear. We can stay in our comfortable little lives, going to church and taking care of our spouses and jobs and children. We can follow the culture’s ways more than God’s. We get what we think we want, whereas God would give us what He knows we need for the next step in deepening our relationship with Him and in fulfilling our own creation. But we have all kinds of ways of not being available to Him–even as we profess our love!

 

It’s been my experience that what He asks of me often leaves me breathless, but not saying a flat-out “NO!” It’s just something I have never before considered for myself, but when I say “Yes!” He is right there with me making the task manageable. Time and again this has happened, so I am no longer inclined to any ”NO!” and I actually put up no resistance and just do what He asks. And pretty soon I see the benefits of doing exactly that—to me and to others.

 

What is your experience of letting God lead your life? Have you followed His suggestions? How did it turn out for you? If you’ve never followed that “still, small voice” of 1 Kings 19:12, first find a spiritual practice that will enable you to hear God’s voice within—Centering Prayer, Bible Study, journaling and other forms of mediation are good ones.[2] Then try listening for his suggestions. They will be the quietest voice in your mind. And when you hear a suggestion in the “still, small voice,”[3] just do it!

[1] 1 Kings 19:12

[2] See my website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for suggestions and directions for spiritual practices as well as a commentary on leading the spiritual life.

[3] 1 Kings 19:12

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Questions to ponder over the week:  How far do I want to let God lead me? Do I worry that He will ask too much of me? Have I ever followed His “still, small voice,” His Holy Spirit within me? What was that experience like? Do I do daily spiritual practices that enable me to hear the Holy Spirit? If not, why not? Have I ever thought that God knows me better than I know myself?

Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who listen to and follow God’s “still, small voice.” May we welcome God’s suggestions and depend on His grace. May we become all that we were created to be in His eyes.

 

If you want to read the blog post in full, go to patsaidadams.com/by-the-waters-blog/.  If you’d like to receiver my blog five days a week in your email, go to patsaidadams.com/by-the-waters-blog/. Check out my other website, deepeningyourfaith.com, for information about spiritual practices and more writings about the spiritual life.

 

I am collecting conversion stories. I am still not sure what the Lord’s intention is for collecting these, but if you would care to share yours, I would only use your initials to identify the author.

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