character, expectations, Fasting, God didn't keep His end of the bargain, God didn't meet my expectations, God's character, managing expectations, prayer, trust, worship
The other day I heard a testimony that hit me to my core.
The visiting pastor at a church where I was also visiting explained how he is sometimes guilty of treating God like a Jack-in-a-Box.
That hit me right between the eyes.
He went on with his sermon, but I stayed right in that moment, right in the question of… “Do I treat God like a Jack-in-a-Box?”
Well, it really wasn’t a question. It was a knowing. I knew immediately that I often do treat God like a Jack-in-a Box.
I pack Him around and set Him in a situation. I wind the handle. Meaning, I pray. I quote Scripture to prove to Him I’m right. I pray some more…and some more…and sometimes a little more, but God doesn’t pop out when I think He should …and I get mad.
So, I change tactics. I try harder. I pray some more. I may even add fasting. I quote Him more Scripture. I use my essential oils. I check every box I can think of…winding, winding, and winding … waiting for God to pop out. Waiting for God to keep His end of a bargain I assume we had made.
The more I wind, the more frustrated I become. The more frantic I grow into being.
The more I wind, the more I expect God to pop out at my request.
The more I wind, the more uptight I become.
1 Kings 18:21-29 describes an amazing account where Elijah has a showdown with Baal worshippers. It’s really worth reading, but what I want you to see now is how the Baal worshippers tried to get Baal’s attention. Here’s what the book of Kings says, “So they took the bull that he gave them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “Baal, answer us!” But there was no sound; no one answered. Then they danced, hobbling around the altar they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them. He said, “Shout loudly, for he’s a god! Maybe he’s thinking it over; maybe he has wandered away; or maybe he’s on the road. Perhaps he’s sleeping and will wake up!” They shouted loudly, and cut themselves with knives and spears, according to their custom, until blood gushed over them. All afternoon they kept on raving until the offering of the evening sacrifice…”
I think this is what I must look like when I am winding the handle on my Jack-in-a Box god. I think I’m right, so I assume I will be able to prove it. I don’t actually cut myself, not on the outside anyway. But, on the inside? On the inside, I torture myself with what-ifs.
What if I had prayed more specifically for my kids as they were growing up? Are the choices they are making now my fault?
What if I had given 5 days a week to church work and not four, would I still have been the subject of gossip?
What if I had tried harder, accomplished more, dug a little deeper… would God have popped up as I expected?
This is what happens when I treat the God of the universe like a Jack-in–a–Box.
I go, go, go instead of being still and knowing that He is God. (Psalm 46:10)
I wind the handle and wind the handle and wind the handle as tears flow wondering how long I can keep this up.
Sounds like I’ve been worshipping an expectation instead of a Savior.
Sounds like I’ve been worshipping a box and not God.
Sounds like I need to breathe and stop winding the handle on the Jack-in-a Box…now.
So…where do I go from here?
How do I stop the obsession with the handle on that stupid contraption that has no place in my life?
First off, I set the box down and remember who God is… who He really is.
Psalm 18 says, “I love You, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God, my mountain where I seek refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold… “
Secondly, I quit picking verses out of the Scriptures to suit my own agenda. I read until God places the Word He has for me deep in my soul.
Jeremiah 15:16 says, “Your words were found, and I ate them. Your words became a delight to me and the joy of my heart, for I am called by Your name, Yahweh God of Hosts.”
Third, I quit praying just to get needs met and instead pray simply to be close to Jesus. I pray in order to stay in close connection with my Best Friend. I remember it’s about relationship.
Fourth, I fast only when I get a direct call from God to do so and not just for financial gain.
I choose to worship instead of wind the box.
I choose to leave the handle alone.
I choose the connection of the Vine (John 15) over the expectation of the pop up.
I’m taking my Jack-in-a Box to Goodwill and leaving it there.
Our God deserves to be worshipped for Who He is and not what we think He should be doing.
Our God deserves complete trust and faith in His plan and the timing of it.
Our God deserves to be adored and loved not accused of not keeping the end of a bargain He never made.
God is not a Jack-in-a Box who comes and goes at the whim of our attentions.
God is God.
He is faithful.
He is true.
He is perfect.
He is love.
He is Savior.
He is Lord.
Let’s worship Him and throw the Jack-in-a-Box in the trash where it belongs.
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