How many of you have said to yourself,

  • “Okay this is the year I will read through the Bible and not skim the boring parts…” or
  • “Starting now, I will stay consistent with my morning prayer times.”

These are all great things, but …

… there is something important to do first

Stick with me and try these three steps. You will see why.

  1. Take a few moments to relax in a comfortable chair or wherever you connect with God (for some it may be taking a walk.)
  1. Take a few deep breaths and concentrate on the immeasurable great love of God. Don’t start to pray or think about other things yet. Reflect on the love that God has shown by sending Jesus to die and now we live in Him.
  1. When you feel connected and loved, ask Him:
    • Why do I want to set some goals or make a change?
    • Am I being motivated by duty or delight?
    • What do You want me to know Lord?

Sometimes we don’t sense God revealing anything to us at that precise moment. Later, something may come to our minds or our heart. Let His peace touch you and rest in the fact that He is powerful enough to make His ways known to us.

Why this is important

This is exactly what the psalmist did in Psalm 139:2, Search me, O God.

This practice goes beyond simply asking for direction. It is a safeguard to connect first for a variety of reasons. Here are two important reasons:

1)  Protection from self-focus

For years, I believed that my efforts were rewarded by God. I recognized that my salvation was a gift that I had not earned, but I accepted responsibility for maturing and serving God. Unfortunately, my effort became more concerned with whether or not I passed or failed what I expected to do. My thoughts began to turn away from Him and toward myself. It wasn’t so much that what I was doing was incorrect as it was my why and how. “I apologize, Lord; I will try harder…” were litanies in my prayers. And when I did achieve my goals, I knew I had to keep trying.

Like a parent, God waits for their child to tire so He can hold them.

As time goes on, I encounter more Christians who are figuring out how to rest in what God has done and is doing. They are giving up their arbitrary “Christian rules” in favor of a connection. They are fixated on God because they yearn to be with Him. They rely on Him to transform their behavior and lives, and not on themselves.

2) Protection from an entitlement mentality

A second reason to connect with God is to expose an insidious expectation: that if I do certain things, God must now bless me. There is a danger that the best teaching and passion to grow with God can turn into an unspoken expectation that meditating, donating to missions, and attending church will make our lives better.

A leader at my church said it well,

“When we think that if we perform well enough for God, bad things are not going to happen to us. When I realized I was thinking this way, I was living under the law. I had this transactional relationship with God.”

What do we do instead?

We can move our focus from following “rules” to thinking about all He has done for all of us. We can exchange trying to please God or make something happen,  to thanking Him for His sacrifice and continued work in us. A shift occurs in our hearts as our motivation changes; we pray, give, and read more of His Word. Who wouldn’t want to be with perfect love?

Your Turn

  • Connect with God by remembering the love He proved by coming to earth and dying on the cross for us.
  • Ask Him, What do You want to do together this year Lord?

Dancing on His Path

PS – I encourage you to read this article The Discipline That God Despises by Marshall Segal  Here is a quote:

There is such a thing as “ungodly discipline” — a form of hard work, persistence, effort, and commitment that drive Him farther away, instead of inviting Him near. We may appear busy, fruitful, even spiritual, all while estranged from God and severed from his grace.

Be encouraged. God loves to be with His children and we don’t need to strive.