Thursday, March 3, 2011


This is a devotion that my daughter Erica shared with her college (Bethel University) wind symphony at their rehearsal today. I thought it was worth sharing here. Thanks, Erica!

I grew up in the church. I believed that God’s ultimate goal for me, for you, for all of us, is to be “happy.” Because that’s what the Bible teaches. When I want something, I ask God for it. When I’m hurt, I ask God to make the pain go away. God wants me to be kind to other people so that they experience the hands-on love of Christ, are happy, and therefore I am happy. So what would happen to my faith if God was no longer part of the equation? I was reading the other day, and I want you to consider this question that I found.

"The critical question for our generation -- and for every generation -- is this: If you could have heaven, with no sickness, and with all the friends you ever had on earth, and all the food you ever liked, and all the leisure activities you ever enjoyed, and all the natural beauties you ever saw, all the physical pleasures you ever tasted, no human conflict or any natural disasters, could you be satisfied with heaven, if Christ was not there?"

I don’t really think that God’s ultimate priority is for me to be happy. But I think it’s easy for us at Bethel to fall into this pattern. Regardless of how much we laugh about being penniless college students, we are all incredibly well-off financially. You’ve heard all the platitudes, like people asking you how many pairs of shoes you own, and then metaphorically beating you over the head with them because children are barefoot in Nigeria. Instead of focusing in today on Third World poverty, I want to, just for a minute, look more closely at what it means to be in spiritual poverty.

God does not ask us to obey him so that we can experience happiness. If we focus our lives on obtaining warm fuzzy feelings, we might well do great works and help others. We might organize groups to work at Feed My Starving Children, or perhaps we start a thriving Bible study. There is a difference, though, between following warm fuzzies and following Jesus.

Jesus did not call his disciples to endure a comfortable life. When he called Peter and Andrew to follow him and become fishers of men, “At once they left their nets and followed him.” God is calling us to radically depend on him. In an affluent community -- that would be Bethel -- it is easy to see God as the icing on the cake. I know I’m guilty of that; I’m guilty of this every day. Instead of seeing God as a sort of genie who appears to grant wishes and then disappears back into his lamp, I want to challenge us to live radically for Jesus.

I’m going to read a few verses of Psalm 63 that go along with this.
“O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”

Will you pray with me? Jesus, thank you for bringing us all here together today. Thank you for putting us in a place where sometimes our biggest worry is an exam. Help us to realize what a gift this is. At the same time, Jesus, challenge us. Draw us out of our comfort zones. Help us to lay down our nets, whatever they might be, over and over again. Teach us to become fishers of men, working with you, and finding joy in that. As we live for you, Jesus, be active and present in our lives and show us the joy that comes when we are truly surrendered to your will. And also, Lord, I pray that you will be present in our playing today. Help us to make music today in a way that both honors you now and that also prepares us to share your beauty as we play tomorrow night. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Woah! Just beautiful Erica. You hit the nail on the head with that devotion. Thanks for sharing this great blessing.