I used to think it was all up to me. My relationship with God. My commitment to spiritual disciplines. Even whether or not things were going “right” in my life.
I used to believe that the way to a deeper relationship with God was to have personal objectives that I worked toward every day. I set monthly, yearly, and lifelong goals and tried to develop habits that I believed would help me grow in my relationship with God. . . .
I was basing everything on my efforts, my plans, my determination to please God with my devotional life. All well-meaning, but it was all self-driven, not God-driven. It was based on my working to get closer to God rather than daily waiting on His guidance and listening for what He wanted to teach me during my time with Him. And I kept failing!
Instead of helping me, the goals I set for myself made me feel like a disappointment to God when I didn’t achieve them or even work toward them. Those goals kept me from resting in the Lord.
I begged God to answer prayers and deliver us from our trials. Yet for all those years, God didn’t answer my prayers my way or in my timing. Instead, He taught me to watch for Him working in our trials, in the unchanging circumstances. As a result, I saw His work in many places I would have missed, and I drew closer to Him instead of feeling alienated from Him.
God used that very difficult ten-year period—and He is using the struggles that continue even now—to teach me that He is sovereign. He is the Chooser, the Planner, the Director. My deeper relationship with God is up to Him, not me: He will guide me and instruct me in His ways.