Steve’s Devotional – Come Back…Even If You Mess Up
OCTOBER 30, 2014
A friend of mine is mentoring a teenager who doesn’t have a father. My friend said to this young man, “Isaac, isn’t it wonderful that God is your Father, he loves you, he is big and powerful, and he controls the universe?” “Yeah,” Isaac responded, “But who is going to throw the ball?” We get a whole lot of questions at Key Life. One of the most asked is how we can know God in an intimate way.
I know how pious this is going to sound and I hate, more than you know, to sound pious, but I’m going to say it because it is true. I’m not good and I struggle with a whole lot of stuff…but I am a man of prayer. I simply could not survive if I couldn’t go before the throne. It’s the reason I get up early in the morning (coffee and Jesus!) and those times of prayer are precious. I don’t even like the word “precious”—it’s not a guy word—but I don’t have any other word to describe those meetings. It is so incredibly valuable to me that I can’t imagine life without those times with him.
What I’m going to say here isn’t from an expert or a contemplative. I’m just a guy who really loves Jesus and likes hanging out with him. So for what it’s worth, here’s how to know God better.
Frankly, I wouldn’t anymore go to Jesus than I would try to get into the palace of the Queen of England. There are some places where I don’t belong. I’m a nobody and “nobodies” don’t have the right to hang out with really important people like the High King of Heaven. But he asked. Can you believe that? He asked.
He said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
When I get up in the morning, I remember that, as weird and as unbelievable as it sounds, the King invited me to spend time with him and, not only that, he likes to spend time with me.
Most of us figure that God will condescend to spend time with us—if we beg him, if we are really nice, and if we make all kinds of promises. The truth is this: he looks forward to the time with me and misses it when I don’t show. Same with you.
A famous evangelist (you would know the name) had become quite the celebrity. And then at the height of his fame, he was publicly shamed and horribly criticized. Broken and afraid, he went to the woods behind the house where he grew up and where he had prayed as a little boy. He felt that going back to the place where he had begun would give him new fire. Later when he reported that time of prayer, he said that God said, “Jimmy, you don’t come here much anymore. I’ve missed that.”
He knows you and your sin.
The writer of Hebrews described it this way: “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses…Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15-16).
I stayed in a hotel room recently. Getting ready to leave for the conference where I was speaking, I looked down at the mess I had made. I had been working on my laptop for two or three hours, eating junk food and drinking coffee, and had not even picked up the morning paper that was all over the unmade bed. I looked at the mess and—can you believe this?—cleaned it up. And then I left a tip for the maid who would come later.
We try to do that with God too. The difference is that, no matter how hard we try, we can never quite “clean up the mess.” Then after trying, we look at the mess, the sin and the promises that we didn’t fulfill and say to ourselves, I can’t go to him like this. I went to him the last 40 times and told him that the next time I came to him I would be different. And here I am, sinful, guilty and with nothing of value in my hands. He doesn’t want to see me like this.
I have a friend who said, “If God really knew me, he wouldn’t love me.” Is that crazy or what?
That kind of attitude is from the pit of hell and smells like smoke. Satan has lied. One of the major reasons we don’t know God’s love and grace, and don’t experience his presence, is that we refuse to eat from the banquet of grace that he has placed before us. You want to know God? Go to him just as you are and don’t lie to him. God will love you and he may even make you better. But go to him with your brokenness and sin. You’ll be surprised…big time.
And if that isn’t true, by the way, we don’t have a prayer. If what I just told you isn’t true, there is simply no way to have a close and intimate walk with God.
God is God.
God is your Father but he is also the sovereign God of the universe and the High King of Heaven. You don’t get a vote. Paul says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!…For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:33, 36).
Each morning I evaluate God. I tell him what he’s done wrong and how he could have done it better. (I can’t believe I’m telling you this.) I complain about the stuff that he allowed in my life…the embarrassment, the failure, and the times when he didn’t deem it proper to make me rich and famous. And then I tell him about the other people he didn’t fix. I sometimes tell him, “You never listen to me.” I tell him my plans and explain to him how wise those plans are, and why, if he really understood, he would bless and honor those plans.
Do you know how God responds? Anger? Condemnation? A lightning bolt? Not at all. That’s how you and I respond to that kind of arrogant drivel. He just laughs—chuckles, actually.
“You finished?” he asks.
“Yeah, I’m finished.”
Then God invites me closer to him, and tells me that he is fond of me and doesn’t know why. He shows me the silliness of what I’ve just said and felt, and shows me where he wants me to go and what he wants me to do. And then God says, “Don’t forget to come back…even if you mess up.”
Time to Draw Away
Read Psalm 23 & Luke 15:11-32
Maybe right now you feel that God really doesn’t care about you or that he isn’t even real. Maybe you’re going through one of those times when you just want God “with skin on.” It’s okay. God isn’t angry with you. You will feel his presence again. He loves you and likes to spend time with his children.