As I sit to write this post, I hear a woman’s voice saying, “If he can’t take me ugly, then he doesn’t deserve me pretty.” And it makes me wonder if we Christian women who subscribe to such theories feel the same way when it comes to our ugly and pretty with God? I mean, let’s be real, we hand God mostly the ugly parts of ourselves and after He beautifies some of us, we run off and work our pretty for the devil. I will be the first to admit that I have been guilty of this on many occasions. This isn’t something new, God has been dealing with runaway brides since Adam and Eve, and still is unfortunately, let’s look at the example in Judges 10 NLT.
Vs. 6 “Again the Israelites did evil in the Lord’s sight. They served the images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and the gods of Aram, Sidon, Moab, Ammon, and Philistia. They abandoned the Lord and no longer served him at all.”
Let’s note the context, God had just delivered them from Abimeleck, Gideon’s evil son who wanted to be king.
The Israelites were always running after the gods of their enemies. Their God, the One True God, rescues them from said enemies and then they (the Israelites) throw away the peace and security they have to follow the gods of the people they just needed rescuing from. You see how that doesn’t make sense?
I began to wonder, why in tar nations (grandpa’s phrase from Rugrats) would they continue to do such foolishness. Here’s what I perceived:
Location- you can’t help but be influenced by where you are
The crowd/Majority- only Israel was serving Jehovah, all the others were serving the Baals and that gave them commonality, while the Israelites were uncommon. I know! This one makes me chuckle a bit, they were meant to be a peculiar and uncommon kind of people, yet they rejected their very purpose.
The Standard- let’s be honest here, even though there are 2.2 billion Christians* in this world being one is not easy, and can often feel lonely. Imagine being an Israelite, just a few thousand years from creation, and God physically interacts with His people. Booming voice, drop dead when you touch the Ark, angel appearances and all. The standard they had to maintain as God’s people was the highest of highs, and they didn’t have the Holy Spirit to help them along the way. God’s standard required so much self-control while the Baals permitted overindulgence. They didn't have to work and sacrifice anything of true value to follow the Baals. They didn't have to love.
Leadership - when leadership did evil, so did the nation. Lack of godly leadership cause rapid deterioration of spiritual health. Like it or not, people need an example, and people want to be led, even though man’s calling was dominion in the earth.
Vs. 10 “Finally, they cried out to the Lord for help, saying, “We have sinned against you because we have abandoned you as our God and have served the images of Baal.”
Of course by this point in Judges 10, I am seething with irritation. I wrote in my notes, “Why is God only our god when times are rough? The fact that we call on Him for rescue means we are fully aware that only He can save/rescue us. So if we know better why don’t we do better? Why doesn’t this truth set us free?”
It is easy to point out the flaws of the Israelites without acknowledging that there was a time in my journey when I lived like God was only good and God when I was in trouble. I think about us 21st century Christians, and we’re not the first to act this way either, but can we admit that we go to God to clean up the ugly and then take the beautified versions of ourselves out for ruin again and again? I think we know that only God can heal, only Jesus saves, but we struggle with wanting God’s Holy Spirit to invade every area of our lives because we don’t want to rise up to the standard. Isn’t it funny (not) how you can know God when you need healing in your body, but can’t know Him to resist temptation and not sleep with the boyfriend? Or how, you can know God when you feel like an emotional desert, but won’t know Him well enough to stop drinking, smoking, and cursing? Or how you can pray for two seconds once a week but can talk to your girlfriends for hours? If you can’t say “amen” just say “ouch.”
The environment, be it social media, or the literal social setting in which we constantly find ourselves contrives to help us follow after the Baals of this world. It’s hard for the truth that we know to set us free when we don’t want to rise up to the standard in Christ, and it’s not even that we’ll be rising alone, but we know that if the Holy Spirit gets into every area of our lives there will be major overhaul. We don’t want to lose those friends, quit that job, move away or even serve that particular purpose, we want to chase this paper and “take long romantic walks to the bank” as if we weren’t called to a greater spiritual purpose.
The most beautiful part of Judges 10 is verse 16b “And He was grieved by their misery.” God is grieved by our misery, natural and spiritual, and will continue to rescue us when we cry out, but that doesn’t mean it is right for us to give Him the ugly and run with the pretty elsewhere. God has a heart too, He is hurt when we walk in self-sabotage, when we reject Him like He hasn’t made Himself and His love known and clear to us. Why do we treat God like He doesn’t have feelings? And despite Him having feelings, whether He is grieved with us or taking joy in us, He remains God, His love remains unfailing and His Word continues to be fulfilled. Us on the other hand? If God would dare not to answer when we want, or move in what we think is our favor, we are upset and gone running after Baal- also known as plan B (nope not the pill, your backup plans in case God’s will for you isn’t your will).
I really could go on and on with this topic, because I saw myself in Judges 10 and each day my prayer is that I respond to God’s love with love. I pray the same for you. Let’s get practical:
How to keep yourself from treating God like a trash can?
Be intentional about spending quality time with Him. Pray and do your Bible study, but also talk to Him throughout the day out loud or in your heart. If you struggle to be sincere in your spoken prayers, just write them down.
Don’t just give Him all your heavy burdens and tear worthy cares, celebrate the good moments with Him too. “God!!!!! Look at this!!! Thank You!” Remember that every good and perfect gift is from Him (James 1:7) and He rejoices to see you do well (Jeremiah 32:41).
Always remind yourself who He is out loud. When you are struggling with your past hurt, “God You are greater than my feelings” (1 John 3:20), “God You are mindful of me, I am precious to You, You know my needs before I ask” (Psalm 115:12, Matthew 6:8).
Make spiritual goals. Just like you make goals for your finances and physique, make them for your walk with God. Also as you make financial, relationship and health goals, find scriptures about those topics and write them in the same place. This helps you bring everything back to what God’s will is, and reminds you that He cares about EVERY area of your life, no detail is too small or too big.
So let’s put a plan into action, and give God the beautiful parts of ourselves too. He is not a trash bin, and He is not just good for rescue. We were created to fellowship with Him, He loves us most and best, so let’s respond to that each and every day.
Grace & Peace Beloved
*2.2. Billion Christians reference:
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This blog will be revamped in the new year.