My prayer tonight is this: “God, please be my paradox.” Let me explain. But first, let me ask you a question. What drives you? What keeps you going? Is it your next activity? Is it your family or friends? Is it the simple desire for fun, fulfillment, and new experience?
Of course, the Sunday school answer is that God should be our driving motivation every day of our lives. But we don’t always feel like that. Sometimes we want ice cream. Sometimes we want to yell at our friend. Sometimes we want to be alone. Sometimes we want to quit. Sometimes we want to sin.
But right now, you’re probably fairly steady. You’re reading a blog post on your phone or computer. However you got here, hear me out. God is the reason for everything. God is everything you’ve been longing for in the background. God can fill that void that binge-watching Netflix can’t. God can fill your life when your significant other can’t or won’t. He made us, after all.
So stop. Nope, don’t check Facebook just yet. Hold on a second. Wait. Settle your active mind down for a second and just think. Don’t respond to that notification. Don’t touch your remote. Don’t call your friend. Just think about life. Think about what God has made.
“‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’ The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” Psalm 46:10-11
Be still. That doesn’t mean we should take a second to feel good about ourselves and go about our day. It means we are to stop and realize that God is who He says He is. He is God. He is God.
While you’re thinking about who God is, take a few seconds to ask Him to fill your soul with genuine love for Him. It may seem weird, but it helps to ask God to help us love and cherish Him. We aren’t capable of desiring God on our own.
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44
In this verse Jesus is talking about salvation. Nobody can come to Jesus unless the Father draws him. You can’t come to Jesus unless God calls you. Pretty disarming, huh? Well, there’s great news! God can and does draw us to Jesus. Accept that call and ask Him to give you a true love for Him. Paul does a much better job explaining this than I do.
“Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.” Romans 6:16-18
We were all slaves to sin at one point. We gave our souls up to Satan in exchange for pleasure. We did this freely, desiring to be controlled by sin if only we get to taste it. But by God’s grace, He called us out of sin and into His salvation through the cross. We then became His slaves, which is a good thing. It’s a wonderful thing! God called us away from that which can never satisfy us into His very presence, which satisfies us forever. He is all we ever need. But every once in a while, we are tempted back into that which once brought us that elusive earthly pleasure. It tasted good, we remember. We want to feel it again. So we go back to sin.
“Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.” Proverbs 26:11
At first it tastes good. But the horrible aftertaste hits us again and we realize the consequences of sin. We don’t like it, but we want more. It’s like that feeling you get when you get halfway through a bag of M&Ms. You’re sick of sugar. You don’t want any more. But it tastes so good. It gives you a buzz. It almost satisfies you, so you continue in pursuit of that rush despite the bellyache you know is around the corner. That’s what sin is like (nothing against M&Ms).
But right now, you’re not trapped. You don’t have to ignore God. Take this opportunity. Reject sin. Ask God to give you a love for Him. Ask Him to make you a slave to righteousness. Ask for it freely and He will give it to you. Then you will desire Him even more and the cycle of truly cherishing Christ begins. This is where the paradox comes in.
Once God gives you a love for Him and a bit of insight into His vastness and greatness, you want more of Him. You want to see His glory in your everyday life even more. You want to have your mind blown even more. You want to discover His truths even more. This is what leads us to pray and read the Bible. This is what leads us to truly follow Christ.
Ask God for a love for Him, a glimpse of His splendor, and a reason to worship Him. He will answer. Look for His answer. Think about Him. Dwell on the world He made and the glories therein. Become a slave to righteousness. Only when we love God will we make time to pursue a relationship with Him, and only when we pursue God will we understand why God is so glorious and worthy of our praise. This is a difficult loop to enter into, but with God’s help we can enter it and thrive in it.
Break the cycle. Stop sinning. Not on your own, of course. That’s impossible. Trust me, I’ve tried it. Most of us have. Ask God for help instead. Admit to Him that you’re helpless and can’t escape sin on your own. Give in. Ask Him to help you out of your sinful habits of destruction and He will draw you to His glorious presence. You have to ask, though. So ask. Ask God to make your life a paradox that no sinner looking in from the outside could understand apart from the blood shed by Christ and the call of the Holy Spirit.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
Also, read Romans. Little snippets do not do the book justice.