I've lost track of exactly how long its been, but I've been exercising and gradually changing my diet as I endeavor to live a healthier and more disciplined lifestyle. Part of my new routine includes a daily walk around a local track. I typically use this time to focus my thoughts and have conversations with God. Even though I try to remain conscious of His presence all day long, it's during my early morning "walk with God" that my soul seems quiet enough for me to sense His Spirit more keenly. I know Him well enough these days to believe that He has no evil-intent towards me, but what I perceived Him saying to me today during our walk this morning kind of made me feel like an idiot...
Needless to say, I chose not to make a fool out of myself and I kept walking, running, and conversing with God, WITHOUT jumping over imaginary hurdles trying to win some imaginary race. I started to smile again and laugh a little when I realized what God was trying to convey to me. Just as I would have looked silly to my fellow track mates (jumping over invisible hurdles), I look so ridiculous to God as I jump over imaginary hurdles trying to appease Him. Suddenly, I began to notice all kinds of things that I never paid attention to before regarding the track.
1. I noticed that there are NO hurdles in my way on that track.
Likewise, during my walk with God there are no hurdles in my way to achieve His approval or His blessing. Religion and people try to place all kinds of stipulations and requirements in the path to intimacy with God. We act as if God is some angry and abusive father who we have to tip toe around in order to avoid pissing Him off and who we must beg and plead with in order to get Him to do something kind for us.
I would be so hurt and insulted if Quinn (my daughter) cowered and flenched in my presence while begging and pleading tearfully for me to give her some juice. There's NO REASON for her to act that way. I've NEVER beat her and I take great pleasure in providing for her. She could pour grape juice all over my white carpet and I still wouldn't deny her my presence, love, affection, protection, and provision. I LOVE her and I would never place any hurdles for her to jump over in order to have a relationship with me!
If I (being selfish, lustful, sarcastic, evil, etc) would provide for my baby regardless of her mistakes, how much more would God (who is LOVE, merciful, kind, etc) do for His children? Matthew 7:11 poses this very question: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
Super Christians who know everything there is to know about God and who now live perfect and sinless lives will tell you that you must have no sin in your life in order to commune with God and receive ANYTHING from Him. They unwittingly piss all over the sacrifice of the very Jesus they proclaim to know and love. Simply stated, since God poured out His wrath on Jesus, the debt for our sins have been paid in full and there are NO hurdles in the way of God's presence indwelling our lives (1 John 2:2, Romans 5:19). I don't care if you pour grape juice all over God's white carpet, He's not going to deny you access into His presence, love, affection, protection, and provision.
It almost felt like God was puzzled with me this morning and like He was asking me, "What are you doing, Anthony? Why are you approaching me with fear? Why do you feel like you have to spend so much time telling me about how unworthy you are? Why are you jumping over all of these imaginary hurdles to get to me? My son, Jesus, has forever paid your debt! You have uninterrupted access to me if you'll only keep your faith in His appeasement of my anger. You don't have to DO anything to please me. I have pleased myself through the shedding of my own blood. Why can't you just be FREE and enjoy my presence? I DIED to be with you! Become dead to yourself and just be with me!"
This post is getting longer than I expected and I still have lots more to say. I'll continue in a future post but let me share the second thing I noticed this morning...
2. The scoreboard was off because the game is over.
The track I walk around every day doubles as a soccer and football field. Naturally, during games the field is bustling with activity and the scoreboard is lit up, keeping track of who's winning the competition. However, during my walk in the mornings, the scoreboard is not on because there are no points to keep track of.
I know the majority of people feel like God is meticulously keeping track of every good and bad thing that we've ever done and uses that scorecard to decide whether or not to bless us or to interact with us. But the truth is the scoreboard is off!
The bible doesn't say WITH sin it is impossible to please God, but WITHOUT faith it is impossible to please Him (Hebrews 11:6). Faith in who? Jesus.