Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.
Job 1:20-22, NLT
There are prayers that are very dangerous prayers, I’m learning. There is a desire that can be awakened in us that is dangerous. I know, I’ve prayed some of those prayers, felt those desires. And there is pain involved. Sacrifice. Surrender.
Awhile back, something in me was awakened. I began to feel His presence in my life in a very real way. I began to realize that He was pursuing me, loving me, changing me. I began to pray some dangerous prayers. I didn’t know they were dangerous at the time. It’s just what I felt like I had to do. I prayed that I would know Him more, grow closer to Him. I said, “I just want to be where You are, Lord. I want to give all to You. I will follow if You lead.”
Let me just warn you of something here. When you pray something like that, you had better be prepared for what comes next. See, God doesn’t want you halfway. He doesn’t want your version of love. He doesn’t want your version of sacrifice. He doesn’t want your version of all of you.
God wants all of you. He wants to show you what real love is. He wants to show you how to sacrifice who you are on the altar of faith, to surrender all to Him. He wants all.
The story of Job is a brutal, powerful story of the love of God and the faithfulness of one man. These verses are some of the most painful verses in the entire Bible for me. Job has just had his whole world taken from him, his heart crushed, his soul shattered with grief and loss. His children are all dead, his entire wealth and worldly possessions are gone, his health is stolen from him. How does he react?
He worships. He falls on his face at the feet of the Creator and blesses His name. Surrenders to His will.
I have to be honest here. I didn’t understand this until recently. See, when I began to seek the heart of God, I knew intellectually that there might be some sacrifice involved, some pain. You know that old expression ‘this might hurt a little’? Well, there is no might. It will.
I began to pray those dangerous prayers.
Lord, use me.
Lord, Your will be done.
Lord, I want to know You more.
Lord, I want to follow You.
Lord, I trust You.
Help me to trust You more.
How could I know that He was actually going to take some things away from me so that I could prove my trust? How could I have known that He was going to make me put my money where my mouth was? Then again, I should have known. I should have known that Jesus wouldn’t take no for an answer.
The thing about Jesus that drives so many people away is that He wants all of us. Not some. Not a piece. All. Think with me of the story of the rich young ruler (see Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 18). This dude came to Jesus with a question. After answering the guy’s question, Jesus got to the heart of the matter. The first thing Jesus did, according to Mark 10, was to feel “genuine love” for him. Then, Jesus hit the guy with the truth. He told him that following the commandments wasn’t enough. Jesus told the guy he was going to have to surrender all to follow. The truth, and real love, hurt in this instance.
In another instance, a guy says to Jesus ‘hey, I’ll go with you but let me go bury my dead father’. Jesus’ response? “Let the dead bury the dead” (Matt. 8:22). That sounds a little harsh to us, right? Then again, in Luke 9, there is a story of a guy that wants to say goodbye to his family before going off on the road with Jesus. Jesus’ response? “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62).
This is a little harsh for us in the “modern world”, I think. See, here’s the problem. Somewhere along the way, we’ve convinced ourselves that being a believer in God, a “Christian”, means that it’s gonna be all good, hunky dory in our lives. We’re not really going to have to give anything up right? That stuff only happens in the Bible, right? Jesus didn’t mean that we’re really going to have to surrender anything, right?
Jesus, if you notice, is not exactly a half-way sorta guy. He didn’t say He was going make everything warm and fuzzy. He didn’t say we weren’t going to have problems. He didn’t say give me this and you get that. No. He said give me all. There is no half-way. In the words of Yoda, “There is no try. Do or do not.” Either we follow or we don’t. Sometimes, following means that He may take some things away from us to teach us dependence on Him, to remove those things between us and Him. Sometimes He has to remind us that it’s not ours anyway. Sometimes He has to remind you to count the cost.
Sometimes He might throw you in the deep end to see if you’ll try to swim on your own or reach for Him. Sometimes the lights go out cause He wants to see what the despair of darkness brings out in you. It’s called love and sometimes it hurts.
That pain is good for you. It grows your character and strengthens your dependence on Him. If this was easy, we wouldn’t need Him.