When I was a girl I remember laying in bed and listening to my pastor dad counseling people with the word of God. He had no idea that someone else was getting counseling at the same time. I would watch these people leave our home and either follow the counsel or ignore it. Most of them didn't listen and I watched as their lives fell apart. I remember making decisions based on what I heard and saw.
Now I'm 53 years old and I'm still listening to the man of God counsel people. My husband seems to have a lot of people call him for their counsel. This week I overheard him talking to someone about "dying to self" and living in obedience to God.
Now I've heard that message again and again but this time as I heard him it came home. He kept repeating that we cannot back God in a corner and agree to do what He wants if He'll do what we want. It doesn't work that way. We do what God wants because He's God and that's the only way that will make life work for us.
People will agree that their life is a wreck, they'll agree they need help, they'll agree that they are at the end of themselves--but my husband made the comment that until we want God worse than we want anything else in the world we won't see that there is no bargaining with God or making deals with Him.
He said it's called "dying to self" or the "crucified life". I stood at the sink later realizing that I still have areas where I need to delete the words "I want" from my life. It doesn't matter what I want. It matters what God wants and it matters what the authority he's put in my life (my husband) wants.
I remembered years ago when a lady came to us constantly wanting help because her husband had left her for another woman. She had been fasting for days and days and she had given up her improper clothing, wrong music, and other "questionable" things she'd allowed in her life. I was impressed and couldn't understand why my husband was what I thought-- "very hard on her".
In the counseling we had both realized that she had been a very strong-willed woman and both she and her husband had been very carnal Christians. Authority had not been a pleasant thing for her but it appeared to me that she was finally ready to surrender to it.
One day I finally asked my husband why he was so unimpressed after she was making so many changes in her life. He told me that her attitude was one of holding God's arm behind his back and making deals with Him. She felt God "owed her" a restored marriage because she was finally doing what she'd known all along He wanted. He also told me that when God didn't give her what she wanted (and God was under no obligation to her to do it) that everything would go back to where it was and she'd be angry at God for not giving her what she'd "paid" Him for.
Sure enough, when the husband married someone else that woman became a major problem in the church. All her new standards disappeared and her bitterness and anger was spread everywhere!
Now I knew my husband was right but it was like it finally fell into place for me this week. How I pray that when I obey the Lord it is because of just that--He is Lord. I pray that when I start to tell the Lord what I want I'll be prompted to stop and add to that--"once I am certain that this is what You want, Lord."
Thank You Lord that I'm still receiving counsel from You and thank You for a man of God who faithfully delivers Your word to those who talk to him.