I figured I would share one more little nugget from Louie Giglio’s Goliath Must Fall: Winning the Battle Against Your Giants before leaving it to your own reading. It is in fact a little nugget, too. It comes at the end of the book, and it was not even a significant statement on the theme of the chapter. It simply was a tiny inserted nugget of truth that stood out to me and is worth reflecting on.
“God does not exist for us; we exist for God” (230).
I was instantly reminded of reading something similar in John Piper’s Let the Nations be Glad years ago. I am pretty sure my copy is one of the original editions, but I have linked a recent, much nicer edition. I still believe Piper’s book is a must read for anyone considering or pursuing missions full-time, or even for a shortened yet extended time. Even if you have no interest or calling in missions, the book is worth reading to gain a better understanding of why missions even exists.
Anyway, Piper begins the book by discussing worship and references the Westminster Catechism to provide a base concept for understanding the worship of God. I am sure I could have simply referenced the catechism myself, but I figured you needed to know about Piper’s book anyway, and it is the book I remember when thinking of this concept. Here is what Piper references:
Question: “What is the chief end of man?
Answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him for ever.”
Giglio’s comment is similar, just more direct. I was struck by this when reading, not because I had never thought of this before (because apparently I have been aware of it since reading Piper), but because of how quickly I seem to forget this. I have a feeling I may not be the only one that feels this way either. The innate selfishness that we enter this world with drives us continually away from the knowledge that the world does not actually revolve around us. To add to that, life is often difficult and challenging, and we are constantly thrown into situations that want us to think first about ourselves.
I am faced with this dilemma of remembrance when I think of current struggles and challenges that I am experiencing. I currently find myself in a place of desperation, calling upon the Lord each morning and throughout each day to provide, to come through, to work a miracle that only He can do. In many ways, I like to think of myself as crying out to the Lord in similar ways that David does all throughout the Psalms. Afterall, does not the Bible say “Ask, and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7), and that “[we] do not have, because [we] do not ask” (James 4:2)? I wonder, though, how much of my desperation is centered around myself. Am I really seeking God and His glory in my desperation? Or am I simply revealing my true colors in disguising my selfishness behind prayer?
Again, I am reminded of David in the Psalms:
“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
I may be desperate, and I may be right in continually asking and turning to the Lord, but am I desperate for the right things? My desperation, even though real and scary, is causing me to treat God as if He exists for me, rather than the other way around. I need something; therefore, I turn to Him. Does that attitude glorify God? Or gratify my own desires? Rather than using God as my own personal Magic 8 Ball in this situation, I think the better question in my situation is to ask God to make me know His ways. It reminds me to check my heart on a few things.
1) See what God sees.
One sure way to end up in a sticky situation, and potentially a situation that leads us to question God, is to pray so fervently in the wrong direction that we completely miss what God was actually saying or doing. The dynamic relationship that believers have with God insists that we remain alert to changes as God may be shifting us in new directions. Sometimes God will draw us in one direction only to be able to bring us to a new path or direction that was the ultimate goal. Honestly, I cannot remember when was the last time I thought or felt God was doing something different and was still stuck with my initial feeling or thought by the end of the road. There are so many factors involved in the way our lives are orchestrated; we would be silly to assume it was always as simple as, “turn left here.” More importantly, God works in our lives in ways that ultimately bring Him glory. God does not allow our problems to exist because He cannot resolve them; He uses them to draw our attention back to Himself. We just also get to reap the benefits. Even in the pit of desperation, it is worth pausing to ensure we are seeing with God’s eyes.
2) Know what God knows.
The trap in experiencing desperation for and need from God is that it causes us to focus on the problem. The problem exists so we turn to God, but we usually turn to Him in order to bring the problem before Him. All this does is continually keep the problem in front of our face. It can be difficult to pull ourselves up over the ledge of what we are facing to remember who God is and what God knows. God already knows our problems. He also already knows what the solutions to those problems are. It is so easy to forget that God does not exist for us when we are crying out to Him for help. Taking a moment to remember that God already knows the outcome provides the space for realizing that the problem isn’t likely about the problem in the first place. The entire situation is thrown upside down by the fact that God has already completed whatever it is we are experiencing. It just becomes another moment through which He can reveal Himself to us and further bring glory to Himself.
Choosing to see and remember that God does not exist for me but rather I exist for Him, reminds me to pause, even in my turmoil, and seek His face rather than His fix. Focusing on my dilemma may cause me to miss the path He is directing me to in order to experience Him in a new and wonderful way.