Dance for Me God
O LORD . . . Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink,’ and who shall say, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels’—let her be the one whom you have appointed for your servant Isaac. Genesis 24:12-14
When I worked in a residential treatment program for the addicted, it wasn’t uncommon for a patient to demand a medication that wasn’t healthy for him (or her). Even though his life was an absolute mess and he’d repeatedly made terrible life choices, he still thought he knew best. Sometimes, the demanding patient would make this threat – If you don’t give me what I want, I’ll leave treatment. Then I’ll relapse and it will be your fault. I usually had the same response to these threats. I’d simply get up, open the exam room door, and say this – Leave or stay. That’s your choice. Not mine. Don’t threaten me or blame me for your poor choices. If you stay, I’ll try to help you, but if you stay, you must understand that you’re simply not able to pick and choose medications as if you’re at a fast-food restaurant. I knew the manipulation game (I’ve been the addicted, demanding patient) and I had no intention of getting sucked into it.
I’ve often done this kind of thing with God though. As a kid, when in doubt of God’s existence, I’d ask him to wiggle the window curtain. I got nothing. If you’re really there God, why wouldn’t you show yourself? Don’t you want me to believe in you? Then, I’ve had other times in my life, where I’ve truly been trying to follow God’s will, and I asked him to speak to me – and he did. Why those times and not the others? I believe it has to do with motive.
In today’s story, we read of one such test of God. In the story Abraham commanded his servant to go to Abraham’s home country to find a wife for his son, Isaac. His servant, in a foreign land, had no idea what to do, but he wanted to obey Abraham, so he asked God for a sign. God answered his prayer, bringing him Rebekah.
I’m wary of stories like this one, because it seems to encourage me to test God in a way that I’m afraid may be evil. You shall not put the LORD your God to the test (Deuteronomy 6:16). This verse references a time when the Israelites asked my childhood question – Is the LORD among us or not (Exodus 17:7)? In demanding that God prove himself to satisfy us, we attempt to manipulate God, insisting that he dance for us – Do what I want, or I won’t believe in you. God though, won’t be manipulated and he doesn’t answer our commands. He’s already made himself evident to us (Romans 1:19).
If we’re genuinely attempting to seek and follow God’s will though, I think it’s fair to ask God for an answer. God, I’m struggling here. Will you show me what it is you want me to do? That is a very different prayer than trying to manipulate God into dancing for us. If we genuinely seek God, we will find him. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you (James 4:9). If however, we try to make him dance, we’ll find that he’s not easily manipulated.