Dear Almighty Father,
Remember the lesson I learned a
few months ago? The one where I realized I didn’t need to do
anything to receive Your blessings? Right now I’m experiencing the flip
side of that.
This Christmas season has made
me think of You more often, and as You enter my thoughts I realize I’ve
been ignoring you lately, trying to live under the heavenly radar. I
just looked in my daily devotional book and saw that the last time I
read it was months ago! I rationalize my absence by noting that I do
pray to You every day—in passing. But as the days have turned into
weeks, I have not truly studied Your Word or dug deep into my faith
like I should have. I’ve been coasting, on cruise control. And honestly
(since You know the truth, I might as well confess), I’ve thought that
since something bad hasn’t happened to me, the way I’ve been living
must be all right with You.
But it doesn’t feel right. My
thinking has to be faulty.
So what is right? What is the
In my quest for the answer, I’ll
give you my basic take on things: If a person wants to reap life’s
rewards, they should be very pious and good. And if they are extremely
sinful, bad things should happen to them. Good actions deserve good
results, and vice versa. Action and reaction.
And yet . . . I look at the
world and get confused. I see good people suffering deeply, and
horrible people reaping huge rewards. What gives? It’s not logical.
Hmm. Could it be that just as
You give me blessings regardless of my actions, so you give me
struggles regardless of my actions? Or You don’t
give me struggles because of my actions?
Could it be You don’t hand out
punishment or reward according to anything I do or
That statement is disconcerting
because I like to think that I have some control
over my life. I’m not talking about free will—for I know that exists.
I’m talking about control over rewards and punishment. Good times and
I am not in control of the
reward or struggle meter. You are. I shouldn’t live my life with the
motive of trying to earn Your God-sent rewards or avoid Your
God-induced pain through my actions. You are in control. I am not. And
because that is true, I have a choice to make: My actions can be
good—or bad. You will reward and punish me as You
wish, according to your love for me. Not because of
So why should I choose the
Because I love You, I wish to
please You, and I want to do the right thing. Your commandments, in
fact your entire Word, is eminently practical. You’ve given us clear
direction regarding how You want us to live. I must choose that
way—without thinking that it will get me something. I must choose Your
way just because. “As the body without the spirit
is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26 NIV).
I think of my own children. Do
they do everything they ought to do? No. But I still love them and give
them rewards—out of love. And sometimes when they mess up, I get after
them, or even allow them to suffer the consequences of their choices.
But I still love them. We’ve heard this line before: “Nothing you do
will make me stop loving you.” So it is with You, Lord. Help me
remember this, and find the comfort of Your everlasting arms.
Just as we can’t earn salvation
through works, neither can we earn reward or punishment. Ephesians
2:8–9 says: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and
this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, not by works, so that
no one can boast” (NIV).
Why is it so hard for me to let
go of the misconception of my own power? Why would I ever want to have
power over my life when You are right there, willing to guide me and
love me toward the unique purpose You have chosen for me that begins
and ends with loving You?
So what can
Trust You. Love You. Love
others. Turn to You. Follow You. Acknowledge You. Worship You.
It’s all about letting You be
God. Why is something that sounds so perfectly simple be so hard?
My mind swims and yet I see a
glimmer of light as You reveal this truth to me. And so, as we move
toward the day of Jesus’ birth, I fall to my knees and thank You for
the blessings—and the struggles in my life. I ask You to replace my
weakness with Your strength, replace my arrogance with Your humility,
and replace my confusion with Your wisdom. And please forgive my flaws,
my busyness, my selfishness, my ignorance, my bad choices, and my
As this year ends and the next
one begins, I will try to do better—not to get
something from you, but just because . . .
You are my Lord.