I looked into the eyes of Joe, a middle aged man, seeking help at church. His complaint was that God was not meeting his needs. As he talked, I realized that so many of us look to God as our butler or valet, someone to meet our every whim. I remember what Rick Warren said in his book, The Purpose Driven Life. “It’s not about me.” We are part of the body of Christ created to fit into a much larger picture. Individually”, we are told to “Work hard to show the results of our salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear,” Philippians 2:4. Yet, I have a picture in my mind of a generation of not workers, but spoiled children whining because God hasn’t given us our cookie when he has provided the means for us to get our own. God is not our butler. The Israelite children grumbled in the desert for better food and clothing. After being delivered from the cruelty of the Pharaoh, they longed to be enslaved again. They missed the garlic and leeks and didn’t recall having to make bricks without straw. We so quickly forget our enslavement to sin and like pigs become eager to wallow in the mud again.
I was once that spoiled child. After marrying Larry, we moved to the Marine Corp Air Base in Beaufort, South Carolina. I missed my college friends and family and I was feeling very sorry for myself. When Larry would come home from his job as an Air Traffic Controller, he would often find me crying. In frustration, he took a long walk and talked passionately to God about my situation. When he returned, he said, “I don’t want to come home and see you crying. If you are going to cry, cry for someone who is blind, deaf or disabled.“ The mirror he put in my face brought both shame and clarity. Something inside me shifted and I quit having my pity parties. I started reading the Bible rather than just books about the Bible. As I got the focus off of myself, I was able to see the needs of others. God was then able to use my gifts and my joy returned.
But I will always remember the prison of my own making. Perhaps you are in one saying I can’t escape because the walls are thick and the bars are strong when actually the door is open and you can easily walk out. So many of us would rather stay in prison and complain. When I have a problem, I ask myself this question. “Is this a first world problem or a third world problem?” I have food, clothes and shelter. The Bible says with these, be content. It has helped me be grateful for my many blessings.
As I continued to talked to Joe, I suggested stepping out and looking for part time employment. I suggested getting exercise to strengthen his back, and I suggested connecting with his maker through walks in nature. I could tell that my advice was falling on deaf ears. He wanted God to somehow magically come down like a genie he could command to make things happen in his life. “God promises to meet my needs but he isn’t doing it for me,” he lamented while blaming his Creator.
God is not our butler. He has given us the tools to change our lives, but we must take the steps out of our prison to do just that. I’m thinking of my friend who as a child had a leg amputated due to cancer. Hailey Danisewicz just went to Rio where she won a silver medal in the Triathlon category of the Paralympics.
She overcame her limitations through discipline and hard work. As a result, she brought honor to herself and the United States.
What can we do to change our circumstances? We can pray, read the Bible and get wise counsel from trusted friends, and Godly mentors. The book of Proverbs is a treasure of wisdom teaching us how to live a full and productive life. As servants of the living God, we are called to diligence and giving. No, God is Not My Butler.
“We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we may walk in them.” (Esphesians2:10)