Don't you ever get the feeling that we are getting it wrong? Don't you ever sit in Church and feel that we are being presented with a sanitized God? After all, this is the God who sacrificed his Son, killing him on the cross, so that we could be adopted as his children. It seems odd that this same God desires to give us everything we want and to spoil us with what we ask. Is he really interested in seeing us all wealthy, healthy and satisfied in this place? (There is a difference between satisfied and content) If that is how you see Father then you are not being presented with the true revelation of our God found in the Bible and understood through the Spirit.
There are two things going on in our life when we serve the Lord in this world. First, there is our service to him as we deal with people with compassion and grace while presenting them with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our purpose is to make disciples. But while we are doing this, our wonderful God is also developing us, helping us grow and mature. He does this in the messiness of life and ministry.
Our Father has no desire to spoil us but he wants to bless us, equip us with what we need in our service to him. If we need a bicycle to get around to minister in our neighbourhood he will provide the means; if we need a multi-million dollar jet he will provide it. He tells us to ask. He will provide for where he has placed us. He will also lead us through the mess and ugliness of life in our development. The world is a messy and ugly place in comparison to his glory. We need to understand that these two things, his provision and our development, are not contrary but have different purposes.
At the very foundation of our relationship is dependence. That is hard for us because from birth we have been taught to be independent, but when we come to Jesus we are taught to depend on him for everything. He isn't interested in what we have to offer. He wants us to empty ourselves and allow him to use us as he needs us, in whatever capacity, with the tool of a bicycle or a jet. Sometimes, he needs to lead us through difficult times in our training so we don't rely on ourselves but learn to turn to him in every situation. Paul the apostle wrote:
I don't know about you but I have had periods in my life that felt like I was going to be destroyed. I had a choice in each incident to try to help myself (which was actually beyond my ability or anyone else's) or to turn to the Lord. I spent hours, days, weeks, in worship, reminding myself who my Lord is and what he promised. I washed myself in Scripture and soaked myself in worship. It felt like I was at the point of death but sustained me and eventually interceded and rescued me. In those moments I learned that my strength was not sufficient but my Lord's was. I need him for everything and I dare not try to serve him in my limited abilities.
Maybe that is hard for you to understand. Just keep in mind that you have been raised by your parents and society to be independent, so the thought of not relying on yourself can be foreign and frightening. But the only way we can serve our Lord is understanding our constant dependence on the Vine (Jesus). A branch cannot support itself, but from the sap we receive through the vine (Jesus) he is able to produce fruit through us. The fruit is not for the branch but for those who would eat from it.
Our life is a classroom and Father is the teacher, training and transforming us in the power of the Spirit to be like the Son, Jesus. So let us submit ourselves, learn our lessons and grow into the fullness of Jesus Christ. Doing this will mean that we never lose our joy or peace, when we realize that our God is in all the messiness of life. Never stop singing his praise. Trust. Obey. Lean.