I’m often tempted to immediately dismiss any person who proclaims that Christianity is easy. That taking up your cross and following Jesus is a simple feat. There are books and podcasts and flyers stuck on windshields that mislead people into thinking that an all transforming relationship with God can be done in three easy steps. Heart surgery a la McDonald’s. Let me tell you from experience, God is not in the fast food business. He’s in it for the long haul. He wants to renew your mind and heart. And that takes time.
Something else it takes is open heart surgery.
As I studied the Old Testament, a pattern emerged. One that might be helpful in combating a cheap faith mindset.One hallmark of Old Testament leaders is that after one victory or another, they sacrificially acknowledged God’s presence among them.They opened all of their heart in gratitude, obedience, and worship. Joshua knew the price of shallow faith. He had to wander in the wilderness for forty years because of other people’s fears. I’m sure he was resolved to not repeat the mistakes of the past.
Joshua 8:30 Then Joshua built on Mount Ebal an altar to the LORD, the God of Israel, just as Moses, the servant of the LORD had commanded the Israelites….
After victory, Joshua led the entire assembly of Israel in thanking God and being obedient to Him, reminding them of what God commanded them to do. A truthful heart’s response to God’s goodness and provision of victory is obedience and gratitude. Acknowledging His faithfulness is how we fall deeper in love with God, fine tune our faith, and grow deep roots into who God truly is.
Experiencing victory, and then forgetting God, or taking it lightly, or just moving on with life, leads to shallow faith and living, and less experiencing of God, less pleasing God, and a forgetfulness that will soon lead to destruction of one type or another.
And honestly, I write this for myself as much as for anyone. Often I’m caught up in my own bubble, moving like a dragonfly from one activity to the other. God is everywhere. God is healing. God is providing. God is loving me in a way that seems to burst with personal attention. And. Spiritual giant that I am, I am focused on cooking meatloaf. Or wondering what I will be up against tomorrow. And when I do remember to thank God, it is not on an altar of hewn stones or from an obedient heart. When I am at my worst, it is a “Oh, Thanks God.” as I step into the car to move on.
When I do get it right, however, it is a sacred intersection of God’s Presence and my flawed heart. God’s Spirit allows me to be transformed, because a grateful heart mirrors that of Christ. Acknowledging God means that you have seen Him at work in your personal history. My little flawed, jacked up, crazy, weird life has just joined Joshua, talking donkeys, and men put in baskets over walls. Yep. That’s something worth acknowledging. Stopping to thank God, to give a sacrifice of praise is far more important than anything on my to do list.
Following God is many things, but easy is not one of them. We need to remind ourselves that the same God Who spoke the world into existence is with us. And one way to do that is to acknowledge His Presence.