This excerpt from Larry Crabb’s book, “The Pressure’s Off” was really convicting and challenging to me!
“When any ambition other than drawing near to God assumes 1st place significance in our hearts, whether the ambition is blatantly self serving or clearly kingdom advancing. We’re living the Old Way.
Drawing near to God will purify our desires and energize godly ambitions to counsel well, preach powerfully, and write helpful books, and that’s good. But,the moment we let our desires for blessings become demands, the moment we expect blessings to come because we’ve met the requirements for God to grant them, the moment we think any blessing other than nearness to God is essential to life and is therefore promised now, we’ve chosen to live the Old Way.
At some point we are erroneously stop thinking of Christ as sovereign Lord, (if we ever did), and regard Him more as a Useful Friend. The point of knowing Him becomes a good life for us now, in this world.
Paul spoke openly about the pain of his life. Not in complaint, but as a reminder that the abundant life of following Jesus means abundant opportunities to draw near to Him in hard times, not just an abundance of pelasant circumstances and good feelings.
Listen to his words to the Corinthians, Christians who were more intent of feeling now what God promised they would feel only in Heaven.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.”
Paul’s’ life was not a pleasant experience. By admitting it and by abandoning all hope that it ever would be pleasant, the pressure was off to figure out some way to “make life work.”
Paul lived to draw near to God, to become like Jesus, to follow the Spirit, not to live a certain way that would please God enough to get Him to pour out the blessings of a better life.
Paul lived to know God not to use Him.”