This is a tale of two men. It will sound very much like a continuation of last week’s article about, “Is it me and God – or is it God and me?”
Both men are Christians. Both have marriages that are full of turmoil, pain and confusion (primarily due to the beliefs and choices of the men themselves), marriages that are right on the edge and could go either way. And both ended up sitting across the table from me.
Their prayers have been similar. “God, I want my marriage to work; help us.” “Father, I am so tired and angry; please take away my anger and give me strength.” “Lord, I need to be a better father; make be more patient.” But the common element I found as I explored these prayers with them is that every one of the prayers was about what they wanted and came with limitations. It was as if they viewed God as the assistant to their lives – they would offer what they were willing to do (and no more) and then wanted God to do the rest.
In truth, the biggest dilemma facing these two men came down to what would they do with God – me and God or God and me? I tend to be very straightforward in situations like this and wanted both men to know that the “God and me” choice, in which they asked the Holy Spirit what He wanted of them each day and then were obedient to that, would take them places they may not want to go.
For example, where the law says, “thou shalt not kill”, or “thou shalt not steal”, or “thou shalt not commit adultery”, the Spirit not only leads the believer to not commit murder, but to be willing to lay down his life; instead of stealing, giving; rather than committing adultery, choosing to love sacrificially while receiving one’s spouse in a manner which brings them to a place of security, comfort, and joy.
For both men I presented, in as clear a fashion as possible, the reality of their situations and the choices they had in order to help dispel the confusion in their minds and give them a basis on which to move forward. Some would fault me as not being very pastoral for being so forthright as to present any option but the “spiritual” one – however, I think is important for people to know that I do not come from a simple(minded) “Jesus will make it all better” perspective – because Jesus will not make it all better if people do not cooperate with Him. In fact, for one of the men the reality is, that in light of the people and pain in his circumstance, the path with the best odds of immediate “happiness” was the one that involved God the least – cooperating with God, on the other hand, would be costly and arduous.
Two men at a fork in the road – in the end, one chose the path with the “best odds” while the other submitted to the Spirit and demonstrated within the hour that he was willing to do whatever the Spirit led him to do, even when it was uncomfortable and humbling.
God is not the means to an end but rather the end itself. God is not the assistant to our life; God is our life. May we all choose to walk the path less traveled.