You know how you know that you are doing the right thing? If things line up and it seems as if God is providing for you in this season. This was my philosophy and part of how I tried to discern God’s will early on in my walk with Christ. If things came easy and smooth then I figured that was the path of God’s blessing. When I ran into closed doors and difficulty then I figured it was God sovereignly hedging up my way.
You see, I’d always considered God’s provision as a sign of God’s approval. Maybe that was a remnant of my days swallowing the damnable prosperity non-gospel. Or perhaps it’s from places like Psalm 34:10, “The young lions suffer want and hunger; but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.”
But then Psalm 95:10 smacked me upside the face: “For 40 years I loathed that generation…”
That verse caught my attention. Especially as I thought about how it related to these verses: For the Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He knows your going through this great wilderness. These 40 years the Lord your God has been with you. You have lacked nothing. –Dt. 2:7
What? “Lacked nothing”? I thought he loathed them. You mean he is still providing for them and making sure that they “lack nothing”? Weird. God even cared for things like clothes and shoes: I have led you 40 years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out on you, and your sandals have not worn off your feet. –Dt. 29:5
His Provision Doesn’t Equal His Pleasure
God wasn’t providing for the wilderness generation because he was pleased with them. In fact he loathed them. But he was providing for them because He is God and He is good. He’s still their Father. So he cares for them; and somehow I think He still loves them—even while He loathes them.
This leads me to conclude that just because God is providing it doesn’t necessarily mean you are being obedient and pleasing to Him. It might just mean that while you are being a complete goober God is still faithful. Manna isn’t milk and honey, or wheat and barley, or vines and fig trees and pomegranates. And water from a rock isn’t brooks of water or fountains and springs, flowing out in the valley and hills.
Here is something that I wrote in a prayer journal (otherwise known as a diary for a dude): Lord, I want to pursue your pleasure and not merely your provision. I want more than shoes. I want You. I don’t want wilderness provisions because of my disobedience. I want your rest. I want your smile.
I’ve grown less passionate about the Lord’s pleasure. I’ve contented myself with His provisions (which are awesome)—but I’ve assumed that His provision means that He is pleased with me. I know that He’s ultimately pleased with me because I am covered in Christ. And I know that I don’t pursue the Lord’s pleasure by performance. But I don’t pursue it by passive disobedience either (James 4:17).
It’s this: “God is delighted with our obedience when it is the fruit of our delight in him. Our obedience is God’s pleasure when it proves that God is our treasure.”
The Israelites wandered 40 years in the desert because they didn’t trust in the Lord. They didn’t believe he could spread a table for them in the wilderness. My heart has grown similarly jaded and that scares me. I’ve been a fool that has contented myself on lesser things. So, I’m praying today that the Lord will remind me of this and stir up my heart to passionately pursue His pleasure.
It’s time I shed my wilderness sandals…
I wrote most of this almost five years ago. God used this, I believe, to stir up in my heart a desire for not settling for the comfort I had in being an associate pastor but to pursue the uncertain waters of being a lead pastor.
If I’m being honest I miss the heart with which I wrote this. I find myself so busy these days that I don’t even look at the shoes I’m wearing. Are they wilderness sandals or something else? I don’t know, but I’ve got another sermon to write, another meeting to prepare for, another fire to put out.
Week in and week out I see God provide. The sermon gets done. I survive another meeting. We plod along a bit more. We continue to pursue faithfulness. But, oh this too easily contented heart of mine. I’m surviving and mostly managing to keep my head above water in pastoral ministry, but am I pursuing the Father’s pleasure? Or am I once again content with his provisions—this time the provision of just enough energy to get through my week.
I want His pleasure…
I don’t think it’s an accident that this song, which I’d never heard, came on Spotify as I was writing this article:
The original story appeared here.