Thursday, August 6, 2009

Manipulating God?

I am currently unemployed; have been for over a month. The RV Dealership I had been working for went out of business; a casualty of these tough economic times. This morning my optimistic view of things was faltering a bit. I went back and dug up a post I wrote in an abandoned blog. It strengthened and reinforced me. I thought I'd include it here as it was written a little over a year ago:

Recently I began a new career. I often, in this new setting, feel like a fish out of water. Because of the nature of this new occupation, I'm not guaranteed a steady income. It has been an enormous learning experience to encounter life with such uncertain parameters.

A couple of weeks ago, I found myself down to the final day of a pay period. Only one day to make enough money to make ends meet. I woke up early, worrying about it. I was concerned that I'd made a mistake in choosing this occupation. I worried that in order to succeed at a livable wage, I might have to compromise my principles. I feared that I just wasn't cut out to succeed at such work.

I concluded that for the immediate future, I had no recourse but to carry on - at least until I found another job. The pressing need was to close a deal in the next twelve hours. I decided to fast and pray to that end.

I knelt in prayer, initiated a sincere heartfelt fast and plead earnestly with the Lord to bring me success in my efforts. What happened next surprised me. It shouldn't have, but it did. I heard the Spirit whisper, "Would you manipulate God?" I was bewildered! Am I manipulating God? How? Then, in my heart I heard, "I thought fasting was an act of surrender, an expression of humility, a manifestation of your willingness to submit your will to that of your Heavenly Father. You seem to be using it, instead, to twist His arm into granting and sustaining your will."

A kind and loving Father had gently chastened me. He had kindly taught me a most wonderful principle. He had reminded me that, "His hand is stretched out" to me, would I take it and twist? Do I want things my way so badly, that I would attempt to manipulate God into granting my desires, even if they are contrary to His will?

I mentioned before that I should have known this, should have been sensitive to this manipulative tendency that I have. Years ago while reading Gandhi an autobiography, I encountered his description of an occasion that also involved fasting. Chapter 36 is called Fasting and Penance. Here Gandhi discovers that a couple of students in his Ashram have fallen into sin. He feels responsible to an, apparently large, degree. Gandhi decides to embark upon a lengthy fast, as penance for his failure. He says, "My penance pained everybody, but it cleared the atmosphere. Everyone came to realize what a terrible thing it was to be sinful, and the bond that bound me to the boys and girls became stronger and truer."

I do not doubt Gandhi's sincerity here. I am quite sure he did feel somehow responsible for the fall of the sinful ones. My concern is that his method, whether sincere or not, must surely have had the result of putting the students on a serious guilt trip. Had his penance been done in secret, God, "who seeth in secret," would indeed have rewarded him openly.

Putting folks on guilt trips is clearly manipulative and because of it's nature falls outside God's plan of agency. Manipulation is controlling and primarily done to the advantage of the manipulator. "I will redeem all mankind, that one soul shall not be lost, and surely I will do it: wherefore give me thine honor." Sound familiar?

I returned to my fast, with new intentions. "I will cheerfully submit to Thy will oh, Father." Then I proceeded into my day with no agenda other than to do His will and keep His commandments.

Friends, God is entirely predisposed in our favor. His doings are always with the intent to assist us in our journey home. If that calls for failure in my current venture, so be it. All I need to do is my best and He will gladly bring me home. It doesn't matter to me what course he leads me on, to that Heavenly end. In fact it is quite an adventure.

So, I quit twisting His arm, and just took his hand.... and.... everything worked out just fine.

2 comments:

Blake, Melissa and Roo said...

Myke, I'm so glad you wrote this and reposted it. I needed to hear it. I think I often have the tendency to want to "manipulate" god. Not that either of us think of it as manipulating god, we just want what we want, without remembering that God's will is the most important and the most beneficial to us. It takes a lot of faith to give up our will to His, especially when the thing we want seems absolutely essential. But you're right, if we just take his hand, there's no possibility of us going wrong. Thank you

Candleman said...

It makes blogging ten times more fun when folks comment. Thanks so much Melissa. It's even better when someone like you shares their own wisdom and insight. So many young people get things it has taken me fifty years to figure out.

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