Who Serves Who?
Luke 1:34 Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”
I clearly remember praying a thousand times for God to take away my addiction. What I meant was that I wanted God to magically remove my addiction with no injury to me. I was not willing to follow or obey him. I certainly was not willing to admit my problem or get help. I just wanted God to do for me. I was miserable and thought I was practicing faith by praying about it. I was still just following me though.
Finally, when life came crashing down, I began to learn that faith meant following God. Where I had previously prayed for God to fix my situation, I began to ask that God fix me. I began to follow. I started to pursue that which God wanted instead of what Scott wanted. Only then did I begin to change.
The difference between faith and focus on self is illustrated in the stories of Zechariah and Mary. When the angel Gabriel went to Zechariah and told him that his barren wife would conceive, Zechariah challenged God. How shall I know this? This is impossible. For his disbelief, he was struck mute for months.
Mary, receiving a similar message from Gabriel, also responded with a question. How will this be? It seems to me that her response was not that dissimilar from Zechariah’s. Her next words though, revealed the difference in her heart. Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.
Zechariah did not understand and demanded that God prove himself. Mary did not understand but submitted to God’s will. Zechariah insisted that God dance for him before he would believe. Mary just obeyed despite not understanding. Zechariah acted as though God served him. Mary served God. This is the difference between faith and focus on self.
So, today, which am I practicing? Am I serving myself or am I serving God? I wish that was a decision I made once for all but my flesh is persistent. I revert often to thinking that faith is about bending God to my will. How often do I pray for the things that I want? How often do I pray that I would be bent to God’s will? It seems I must continually learn that faith is me following God’s will, not the other way around.
It takes purposeful effort and I am not very good at it yet, but when confronted with some trial or challenge, I try to ask that God work his will in me before I ask him to fix the situation. I know that God uses tough times to shape me, but my first impulse is still to pray that God just take away the discomfort. Faith is asking that God’s will be done and then following that will, even when I do not understand.