Life For God or With God?

 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30

There is a big difference between living life “with” God and living life “for” God.  The “for” God life is one that constantly seeks approval, reward, and signs of worthiness.  There may be an intellectual understanding of God’s unconditional love, but our actions reveal a constant striving to earn it. 

When the experiences of life become the standard we use to define whether or not God cares for and loves us, our relationship with God is reduced to a list of rules to follow and roles to play.  Difficulties come and our developed formulas no longer work, resulting in confusion, anger and stress. In some aspects God is related to as though he is a vending machine. Just put the right thoughts and actions in the payment slot, and what we long for and desire will be dispensed. 

The “for” God life ultimately places trust in ourselves and focuses on our efforts. If I give, I will be financially blessed. If I live a life of integrity, the truth will come out and justice will prevail.  If I develop my gifts and talents, I will be rewarded with a job I love.  If I have enough faith, my loved one will be healed.

The life God offers, is the “with” life where love is not earned, but freely given.  The “for” God life is all about earning, the “with” God life is all about trust. Through-out Scripture, the consistent promise of God is that he is with us. 

  • Isaiah 43:2 “When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.”
  • Joshua 1:9 “Yes, be bold and strong! Banish fear and doubt! For remember, the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  • Psalm 23:4 “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
  • Deuteronomy 31:8 “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
  • John 14:16 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you.”

God is inviting you to accept his gift of love and rest in complete and total trust. Your confidence can be placed in God and all outcomes released into his care, because he is faithful, good and will always do what is best and right.

Jesus showed us what this looks like as he placed ultimate trust in his Father.  In the midst of agony, sorrow, grief and fear in the Garden of Gethsemane, although he prayed for the cup to pass, he surrendered to love praying, “Not my will but yours.”  While Jesus felt abandoned, and cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me,” he knew he was not alone.  With his last breath, Jesus spoke words of total trust, “Into your hands I commit my spirit.”

The trust Jesus placed in the Father resulted in the resurrection and victory over sin and death.  Praise God for this gift, and praise God for the example Jesus set that we can trust God in all things.

During some very dark, lonely and difficult days, I struggled and wondered if God had abandoned me.  Along with Jesus, I cried out, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me.” While I struggled to fix and pleaded with God to produce the outcome I desired, God was inviting me to rest in him and abandon all outcomes into his care.  He offered peace and joy, gently drawing me closer and teaching me to trust in his love, and become more aware of his presence. In the middle of those dark days, I learned to experience God at a deeper level, and trust in him. The gift of his presence has far exceeded any outcome I longed for.

Think about Matthew 11:28-30 and imagine God’s loving voice speaking directly to your soul.  Hear your name as God invites you to experience his rest.  Say it out loud and surrender yourself into his love and care.

“Dearest child (insert your name) are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

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