The Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering. I Samuel 13:12
When in high school, I had a bible verse t-shirt that I wore to wrestling matches. It was my way of doing some advertising for God and in return, I thought perhaps He could give me some divine assistance with my wrestling skills. I just assumed that God wanted what I wanted, and I wore that t-shirt like a good luck charm.
The t-shirt was not wrong in itself. My mistake was in the orientation of my heart. I was not pursuing God’s will, but rather, my own, while trying to use God to get me there.
This seems to be similar to King Saul’s great transgression in today’s passage. When God crowned Saul king, Saul took this as confirmation that God was on his side. Saul’s heart followed his own will and assumed God was along for the ride.
Samuel, the prophet, planned to offer a sacrifice for Israel with Saul before a battle, but when that time passed, Samuel had not arrived. The Philistines were gathering to attack so Saul took matters into his own hands and offered the sacrifice himself. He wanted God on his side, so he performed the magic ritual to guarantee victory.
Most of us live our lives, not even realizing that we are making this mistake. We just live, work and pray, believing that God is most interested in what interests us. God is profoundly interested in our ultimate good, but this does not mean He is out to enforce our will.
God’s purpose is not to be a good luck charm that we use to get everything we want. God’s purpose is to grow our relationship with Him, which is what we ultimately need. As long as we pursue ourselves, we will live in angst and frustration. Only in abandoning ourselves and pursuing God, do we experience the peace, joy and life that we were meant to know.