Are You Using God?
Have you ever gotten a perspective shift that seemed to call every intention in your life into question? It only takes one thing at the right time to be pointed out to you and it changes how you view everything. I have recently gotten to have one of those moments. It opened me up to truths of how I actually live my life, love my wife and kids, and most importantly, how I relate to my Heavenly Father.
Over the years I’ve developed a pretty solid morning routine: wake up an hour before the rest of the fam, grab a cup (or pot) of coffee, sit on the couch, and pray and read my bible. It has been my routine for years. I’ve used my prayer time in the morning to cover a lot of ground; I would pray for a lot of really good and important things. I would pray for family, friends, myself, ministry and provision – pretty normal stuff really. Even though I had a pretty healthy rhythm, one thing became clear: my intimacy with the Lord was suffering. Things in my life were being covered in prayer, but my sense of identity – of oneness with the Lord – was absent. So what does this mean was really happening between me and God?
I was using Him.
I wanted His blessing over what I produced. I wanted Him to bless what I wanted to see happen in my family and ministry. I would go out in the woods to sit and pray, to listen to what God would have me do with the ministry. I would listen for His direction and strategy and He would give it. The reality was that all my communication with Him was really about getting what I needed to produce something. I found I was just using God as a wise sage, as the one who knew best how I could succeed. I had forgotten what true relationship with the Father means.
True relationship with the Father isn’t about what you can do for Him. Many of us go through life and ministry looking for purpose, something we can do. We want to win souls for Jesus and bring the kingdom of God to earth. We look for ways to give back to God, but we forget that God isn’t lacking and that he needs nothing from us. He doesn’t need us to produce anything or to be something to Him. He absolutely wants to bring change to our lives; to have something happen in us. He calls us to join in His work to redeem the world, but that isn’t really what is at the heart of relationship with the Father.
At the heart of relationship with the Father is simply being. It is knowing that you were created because you were wanted. You were loved before you could ever produce anything. You were accepted in Christ before you ever could accept Him. Jeremiah 31:3 states “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.” God’s acceptance of His people has always been predicated on who He is. We have simply been invited into the relationship that the Father, Son, and Spirit have shared eternally. Before anything ever existed, God existed. Three in one, there was only relationship in the Godhead. God desired that something, someone else, benefit from that relationship and love.
We need to begin with this understanding that God first loved us. He didn’t love us first so we could work to earn it or gain significance through something we can do. God and His love for us is our significance. If we begin by living in this reality, all of the love of God, filling us up, defining who we are, and giving us our significance will permeate all the rest of life. Relationships and ministry then become a result of who you are – an overflow of the love of the Father in you.
One practice that helped me start my day in this reality is the practice of “Centering Prayer”. In centering prayer, we simply invite the Holy Spirit to come and do the inner work we need. We invite Him to simply be with us as we sit with Him. I don’t fill my time with words. I don’t worry about producing anything or giving Him anything. I simply sit with Him and welcome His presence. It is absolutely freeing to know you don’t have to fill time and space with God; that you can simply enjoy Him and be enjoyed by Him.
The greatest expression of God’s love through you won’t come from trying hard; it will come from reveling in your covenant oneness with the Father.
Dan Koller is the youth pastor at Gun Lake Community Church. Dan enjoys spending time with his beautiful wife (who edits all his content and makes him sound smarter than he actually is) and his two amazing sons. He has a heart for small town ministry and has a passion to help other youth pastors succeed. Dan is also working with Rebuild North America; an organization dedicated to empowering and resourcing children’s, youth, and young adult leaders through coaching, training, and content.
You can read more from Dan at HTTPS://THESMALLTOWNYOUTHPASTOR.WORDPRESS.COM.
You can also connect with him on facebook or instagram @smalltownyouthpastor or twitter @smalltownYP
You can connect with the work he does with Rebuild at HTTP://WWW.REBUILDNA.COM
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.