Opened my book to the next chapter and read the title: "God's purpose: To Accomplish His Plan For Good." Definitely sounded like something that would encourage my heart that day. Little did I know....it would definitely encourage my heart. The Lord would actually use this chapter to change my heart.
I came to the part of the lesson where I was to read Deuteronomy 10:12-13 and write how I thought God defined good. I began reading the verse: "And now, Israel, what does the Lord require of you? He required only that you..." Thinking that I remembered this verse by heart, I started jotting down the rest of it from memory (or lack thereof :)): "To fear the Lord your God, to do good..." Oh wait...as I looked back at the verse, it never said "to do good." So I quickly scratched those words out, and saw that it actually said, "live in a way that pleases him." Hmmm....I stared at the page for a minute. I saw the words "to do good" with a black line across them right next to words, "live in a way that pleases him." The words jumped off the page at me.
Isn't that the way that we as Christians sometimes try to live? We think that if we "do enough good," we are exempt from completely living in a way that pleases the Lord. Hear me out. The Lord asks certain things of us, sometimes things that seem way to difficult for us to deal with or way too hard that we would rather not try. The Lord might ask us to minister to someone who we just don't connect with. And instead of being obedient, we minister to someone else that we do connect with and feel great because we did "good." God asks us to love someone that has hurt us....it's too hard. We love on someone else and think that's "good" enough. God asks us to lead a Bible study, or surrender to the ministry, or go on the mission field. Change....oh no....that's too hard. So we resort to doing something "good" with a little less change....and we feel "good" about it. Does that make sense? We hear things like this every. "I go to church on Sundays." "I tithe every week." "I volunteer at the homeless shelter." "I give money to those in need." All good things. But good things are just not enough.
Dear one, what I feel that God was trying to teach me that day, was that to do good just doesn't cut it. He is calling His beloved to live in a way that pleases Him. And the first step is to walk in obedience. Easy for me say that morning, but little did I know, I would have the opportunity to put it into practice the next day.
The morning after this lesson, a situation arose. It was a opportunity for me to do something that the Lord wanted me to do. The thought came into my mind. A thought that was obviously prompted by the Holy Spirit. God was asking me to do something that was hard. He was asking me to do something really hard, something that I just didn't want to deal with at the moment. I thought about picking the phone up and texting my husband to see what he thought it. And as ashamed as I am to say this now, I thought: "No. I won't bring it up. He might think it's a good idea, and then I'll have to do it." But, oh how my sovereign God works. No more than a few hours had passed that I received a text message from my sweet hubby. His words were asking the exact question that I had avoided telling him. Wow....I couldn't believe it. Well, actually, I could.
It was then that I felt God saying: "Okay, Hannah. What did I show you yesterday? Are you living in a way that pleases me? Or are you choosing to only do the things for Me that are not difficult and challenging? Oh how ashamed felt. Did I really get the lesson yesterday? It seemed so much harder to accept it now.
But, praise Jesus that He never gave up on me. I'm so thankful that He blessed me with a husband who is sensitive to the Holy Spirit and never ceases to keep me accountable in my walk with God. While sitting in the car at Walmart about to make our weekly grocery trip, I told my husband what God had been doing. It was such a confirmation to the both of us. Did it make the situation any less difficult? Well, not exactly. But, my perspective changed. No longer was I just doing good or avoiding obedience, I was walking in a way that pleased the Father. Walking in obedience.
So, sweet one, what is God asking of you? Have you been filling your life with good things instead of living in a way that pleases Him? Maybe you are not even a believer and you think that the "good" things in your life can get you into Heaven. No, dear one. Good things are just not enough. A relationship with Jesus Christ, accepting Him as your Savior is how you will spend eternity with Him. I know that's how I desire to live the rest of my days on this earth. For when I stand before the Father, the "good" things in my life just fall away. But, the life that I lived pleasing Him, the love that I had for Him, the ways that I served Him in obedience, that is what matters. That is what He requires of me.
"And now, Israel, what does the Lord require of you?
He requires only that you fear the Lord your God,
and live in a way that pleases him, and love him,
and serve him with all your heart