Yesterday I talked about how disappointment in my life is often rooted in unmet expectations. Another thing the Lord has been confirming in my heart recently is how my disappointment can also come from wanting something more than I want God. Ed Welch from CCEF (Christian Counseling and Education Foundation) calls this the “irrelevance” of God.
Here’s an example:
On Wednesday night at our Community Group (our church’s small group) Benny asked for input about an area of relational conflict he is facing. Because the situation involves both of us, I shared my own temptations and struggles. I admitted to the group that what I want is simple. I just want relational peace.
I can handle having a house full of rowdy grandchildren — including all the mess and noise and tears and bickering that come along with that — more than I can handle tension or conflict between or with those I love. I ache when I see people I love hurting, judging or being angry with one another. Or when I do the same!
Sometimes I crave this peace more than I love and trust God. As my fears or anxieties about the potential outcome of conflicts in our family or among close friends build, my awareness of God’s control and nearness fades. I become fretful, preoccupied, and even lose sleep as my mind and heart churn over what is weighing on me.
God, then, becomes irrelevant. My hand-wringing can quickly develop into thinking through how I — or more often how Benny — can get involved to help. While this desire is often a genuine longing to serve others, it is also too often motivated by self-protection and a craving for peace. Sometimes I am simply looking to Benny to be God, then struggle when he is unwilling to assume that role…smile.
These word from El Welch are helping me to find hope in the nearness and love of God, which is gently exposing just how often and easily my heart can drift from from leaning on Him.
“Sometimes the Creator God, Father of all, from whom we receive all things that are good—becomes irrelevant to us.
When I was in high school I told my parents very little about my dating relationships, though they probably knew more than I realized. One evening, after I was dumped by a girl I had been seeing, my disappointment must have been obvious.
My mother was very kind.
“Eddie, we really love you.” She knew something was up.
And at that moment—I had an epiphany. I realized that all the love my mother could muster was irrelevant because I wanted someone else’s love—not hers. I knew parental love was a good thing. But, on that evening and for the next week or two, I didn’t care.
Sometimes, when God says he loves us, we have a similar response. “Well, I guess that it is better that you love me rather than hate me, but right now it doesn’t make any difference to me, because I want ________.”
…someone else’s love
When your desires are more important to you than God, confess them down to size. Some desires are just plain wrong, such as adulterous desires. You don’t confess these down to size; you confess them, turn and run. But most desires have a seed of something good in them. Being loved or appreciated is good. Having a job is good. But when your Father God is irrelevant to you, assume that these good desires have morphed into enslaving giants that must be must be shrunk down to their intended size.
Confession is an essential part of this miniaturization.
“Lord, forgive me. I want more for me. My interests and desires are at the center of the universe. I am undone and unworthy.”
Then a funny thing happens. God’s love begins to make a difference again. It is meaningful, comforting. God’s love was never intended to satisfy desires that have run amok. Instead, his love intends to bring those desires down to size and then fill us to overflowing with his expansive and unlimited blessings.”