For years Christians have been leading the charge to deny pleasures in the pursuit of Jesus. After all in Matthew 16:24 Jesus tells us we need to pick up our cross and follow Him. Dying to ourself doesn’t seem like a pleasure seeking move. However I think we have been focusing on the wrong thing.
I know this girl who thinks she has to accept the responsibility for the happiness of others. She sometimes feels guilty when she fails to please others, and that failure results in rejection and a false assumption that she is not valuable. Making decisions is a difficult task for her, and she often struggles with setting boundaries. She listens to the myth that says, “You are somebody if you please others.” She just wants to be liked. This girl is a people-pleaser, and this girl is me.
Recently I woke in the night to find myself having a conversation with God and the enemy, just the three of us. It was surreal, frightening, and something I hope never happens again. In a conversation with these two voices, one telling me lies, one telling me truth, I succumbed to crying out “Jesus Jesus Jesus.”
We had just finished lunch and were sipping tea when my friend shared her frustrations about prayer. Her forty year old unmarried daughter had no interest in her mother’s faith. Praying passionately God would give her daughter Christian husband so she would become a Christian proved vain. Her daughter remains an unbeliever and single to this day. My friend feels like the woman of Canaan pleading with Jesus to help her daughter only to be ignored.
We’ve all been there. Alone in our bedroom praying desperate, raw, and honest prayers begging God to do something. To change our circumstances, provide for our needs, or just end the current season. We pour our hearts out to God only to be met with silence, or worse, we get a no. It leaves us with questions. Did I pray the wrong prayer? Why even bother to pray if the answer is no? What do I do now?
I’m confronted everyday with a reality that I don’t really care to acknowledge. I am not good enough. I’m a terrible follower of Jesus. With my words I’m great, but my actions rarely back it up. I’m far more selfish than I care to admit with my wife. As a pastor I’m regularly confronted with issues I have no clue how to deal with. In the most important areas of my life I am not good enough to do them even remotely well.