I listen occasionally to a podcast called The God Journey, by Wayne Jacobsen and Brad Cummings. Much of what I’m about to write finds its genesis in an episode from a month or more ago (sorry, can’t remember the date).
The important point I want to make here is that you cannot serve God unless you trust him. You should probably pause here to let that sink in for a minute.
The ability to trust God comes in only one way that I know of. Unless you’re settled – really settled – and you know his love for you, and he’s won you to that place, you will never trust him. Not fully.
And until you arrive at that place in your journey with God, your efforts at serving him are probably not so much serving him as they are serving you. And ultimately, that will destroy you.
I’ve become convinced that most of our efforts at serving God involve some measure of trying to demonstrate our own worth, trying to perform, trying to achieve results. Most of the time, we serve in order to feel worthy of God’s love, rather than serving out of a settled peace regarding God’s love for us.
Contrast this with Jesus, and with the way this is all pictured in the New Testament. The Father, you remember, publicly proclaimed his love for Jesus (“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased,” Matt. 3:17). This happened before Jesus had done anything in ministry. So before Jesus had really done anything at all for God, God was “well pleased” with him. And Jesus knew that. So his service was not done as part of some contrived effort to earn the love of a distant Father.
Notice also Paul’s words in Col. 3:12. Paul says, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,” do these things. And he goes on to list a number of things he wants them to do. In other words, let your service to God grow out of a settled peace regarding your identity as people who are already “holy and dearly loved.” The security is there first. God’s already chosen us, and we are holy and dearly loved, before we ever lift a finger for God.
Often, the most religiously industrious is someone who’s running all-out away from their shame, trying to come up with some ammunition to defend themselves against what they feel down in the depths of his or her own soul.
My point here is that if you don’t have that settled peace, don’t look for it in some external source. Instead, relax. Open your life to God, and let God come to you in the way he deems best to come to you. It will take him speaking to your heart in a way you understand, and saying, “You’re my son. You’re my daughter. I love you dearly. Now, let’s you and I live together out of that.”
You must come to the Father in all your vulnerability and insecurity . . . as you are. There and only there is where he will make himself known to you.