Thursday, March 26, 2015

What does God want from me?

Every fundraiser will be disappointed by "the results" from time to time.  That's normal.  But sometimes we feel disappointed by the results for really long periods of time.

Sometimes it's worse still: not only is nothing improving, but you're actually losing support.  Or your contact list has dried up.  Or someone is spreading gossip in one of your key networks.  (All of that has happened to me personally!)  It's tremendously frustrating!

What's going on??  What more can I do??  What does God want from me?

Helping to answer that question is a big part of why this blog exists.  But I was struck in particular today when considering one of the most frightening passages in the Scriptures, quoted at length below.  Take a moment to read over it carefully.  Note the extent to which God has gone to get His people's attention:
I gave you absolutely nothing to eat
in all your cities,
yet you did not return to Me.
Two or three cities staggered
to another city to drink water
but were not satisfied,
yet you did not return to Me.
I struck you with blight and mildew;
the locust devoured
your many gardens and vineyards,
your fig trees and olive trees,
yet you did not return to Me.
I sent plagues like those of Egypt;
I killed your young men with the sword,
along with your captured horses.
I caused the stench of your camp
to fill your nostrils,
yet you did not return to Me.
I overthrew some of you
as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
and you were like a burning stick
snatched from a fire,
yet you did not return to Me. 
(select portions of Amos 4:6-11 HCSB, emphasis mine)
God starved His people.  He destroyed them with plagues.  He killed their children.  He treated them like Egypt and like Sodom and Gomorrah.  Yet not one of these measures was sufficient to get them to return to Him.  They stubbornly refused to pay attention!  No matter how much God turned up the heat, Israel preferred its own, limited, lifeless way over returning to God and finding comfort, peace and joy.

While it's likely that God has not yet struck you personally with blight and mildew, could it be that God is frustrating your fundraising with the same intent: that you would return to Him?

When I first started fundraising, it took me months before I was willing to humbly acknowledge my need for Him.  And while I became sad, then angry, then rebellious during that time, I refused to return to Him.  And He responded in kind by depriving me in ever-increasing measure.

Thankfully, in His divine and perfect grace, He opened my eyes before all was lost.  I was a burning stick snatched from the fire.  A very stubborn, desperate, burning stick that had learned a very painful and very valuable lesson.

When I was an atheist, I'd read this passage from Amos and used it to declare God an egocentric jerk.  As a Christian - and especially one who has been snatched from the fire many times - I see this instead as tremendous mercy.  My heart is so prone to leave God, the source of life, and run full-steam-ahead into lifeless things which will destroy me.  Instead of allowing that, God Himself came to me, willingly took the punishment I deserved by dying on a wooden cross, and to this day patiently calls me to return to Himself time after time after time.

Those are not the actions of a jerk.  Those are the actions of a Savior.

A Savior who wants us to return to Him.