Wednesday, April 8, 2015

I'm seriously unimpressive but I can make God proud

When I was going into 7th grade, one of my classmates was killed in a dirt bike wreck. 
In an effort to bring some comfort to his parents, I made a video for them. My sisters drove me around to my classmates' homes and I filmed them sharing their fondest memories of Jonathan.  
I was no cinematographer, and the finished product was evidence that I was an unskilled-at-movie-production-13-year-old. Nonetheless, I gave it my best effort in a sincere attempt to help alleviate some pain for these parents.
One night, when I was in the middle of this surprisingly huge and time-consuming video project, my oldest sister came to my bedroom.
She stood in the doorway and said, 
"I feel like God wants me to tell you that what you're doing right now for Jonathan's parents is making God smile."

She left the room but her words hung in the air. They stayed in the air and then came over and sank into my heart. 
I began to cry. 
"I have the ability to make God smile?"
I wept as I realized the answer to that question was, 
"Yes. I do."

That night serves as a marker in my life. It was the first time I became aware that I could move God's emotions. I could make God happy. I knew He was smiling at me because He was proud of me, and the idea that I could make Him proud started fueling me. 
My 7th grade self found a new and strong desire to make my life something that would always make God smile. If the Maker of the universe was watching me and my choices could affect how He felt, then I wanted to make Him really happy. 

I'll repeat that my junior high video-making skills were less than adequate. They were almost none existent. But God didn't mind. He wasn't looking for polished perfection, He was looking for a heart that wanted to help someone. And when He found a heart that wanted to help some mourning parents, He smiled at that heart. He smiled, not because of my ability, but because of a very simple love that He found in my heart. 

Today, more than a decade later, He continues to build on this foundation that He used my sister to lay. I don't have everything together, I struggle, and I'm usually pretty weak, but I can make God smile. Making Him smile isn't for the strong, talented, and sinless. If it were, I'd be the first one marked off the list. But do you know who makes Him smile? The weak, the broken, and the repentant, who are trying again to be obedient. 
Anyone can do this. 

A little bit of love in a heart moves Him. A tiny whispered, "Yes, I'll listen to You," brings His huge God heart great joy.  When I give Him a, "Yes, I'll do what I can to help them," He bear hugs me and says, 
"I'm so proud of you."

I want to remember as long as I live that I can make God smile and I want to go on doing it. 

The reason I'm writing this right now is because I've been reminded of a temptation that I once had to overcome. For awhile (a-much-too-long-while), I was tempted to say "no" to what God was asking of me, and to say "yes" to something quite different. This temptation was humiliating and the kind of thing that made my face turn red when I had to talk about it. I'm out of the temptation pit now (God always carries us out if we'll let Him), and this week, God has used that pit to continue teaching me about what makes Him smile. Instead of pointing His perfectly righteous finger at me and saying, "I can't beleive you struggled with that," He got down on His knees in front of me, pulled my head into His chest, and said, "I'm so happy that You said 'no' to that sin and 'yes' to Me."
Then He told me He was proud.

When I see rotten failed attempts at righteousness, He sees love.

There is seriously nothing impressive about me (except for my ability to get distracted and my ability to make my hair enormous--those are both sort of impressive). But despite my very un-impressiveness, I can still move God's emotions. So can you.

A 7th grader making a poor quality video and a 27 year-old falling into a pit but letting God carry her out--both make Him proud. 
Anyone can do this. 

Whether you've been struggling to say "no" to temptation or have given yourself fully to it, there's still hope. It's not too late. If you'll tell God you're sorry and ask Him for help, He'll help you kick that sin in the butt. As soon as you start trying to listen to Him again, He starts smiling. 

Wherever you're at with God right now, know that He isn't mad.  Also, know that there is a difference between His Love and His approval. You can never do anything to make Him love you more or less. He already loves you 100% right now, no matter what sort of life you're living. If you're currently sleeping with your neighbor's wife, smoking heroin every morning, and robbing the grocery store on the corner once a week, God loves you 100%. He is not, however, proud of the decisions you're making. He may not be proud of the decisions you're making, but He wants to help you make better decisions so He can be proud. The better decisions He wants us to make are often gruelingly hard, but as soon as He sees a "yes" in your heart towards what He's asking, He starts cheering like crazy and dancing because you're making Him happy. I love making Him happy. And that's what I want to spend the rest of my life doing.

Now, friends, we want to say this to you. We taught you how to live so that you make God happy. And certainly, you are living like that. Now we ask you very strongly to continue to live like that more and more. On behalf of the Lord Jesus, we ask you to do this. We told you what you must do. The Lord Jesus gave us authority to tell you those things. What God wants is this: He wants you to be completely good, and separate from everything that is bad.  
-1 Thessalonians 4:1-3