I tend to complicate things, and sometimes the image I present to you may become more important than the content of my heart. I want you to see the good things about me. Especially when I present it on social media. You would know I am having the worst possible day of my life if I posted a status of “having a horrible day, my life really stinks”. I reserve that kind of feeling and show for those closest to me, my inner circle. I want to put on a good show.
I believe that is how a lot of us approach God. We tend to base our relationship with Him on our external display of our piety. “Look at me God, I gave some money.” “Look at me God, I did a good deed. ” “Look at me God, I am sacrificing my time, talents, and abilities in Church programs to prove my devotion to you.”
Our displays of devotion are microcosms of displays that other “devotees” around the world put forward to try to “pay” the price to somehow make themselves right.
Years ago I was struck by images I saw of a group of Filipinos on Good Friday. They tried to show their devotion to God by literal self flagellation and ultimately crucifying each other. I was shocked at how the report said these poor people would crawl on hands and knees for miles to a church to offer their acts of penance to God in hopes of His acceptance of them. “Here I am God. Look how much devotions I have. I have beaten myself, crawled for miles and allowed those around me to drive literal nails in my hands to display my devotion.”
This morning I have been reflecting on Matthew 6:5-6 NIV in my time with God.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
Jesus spelled out in very plain words the way to approach Him: intimately as a child with their father in a private place, secretly. One on one.
There’s no set of rules, requirements, and expectations to be met. Simply come.
Come as you are afraid, doubting, and heartbroken. Trade these in, in the secret place for faith, boldness, and peace as you pour out your heart to Him. Nothing complicated or impossible. Simple humbleness before the One who desires to mold us and fashion us there in that secret place to be what He always intended for us to be.
I’m always awed by the size of a mustard seed. It is smaller than the font I have chosen to write this blog. Yet that is the size of what Jesus said our Faith could be and still move mountains. We are the ones who tend to complicate. We do so, so much that it sometimes paralyzes us to inaction. “I can never be enough for God so why try?” All the while He is waiting for us to Just come. Come with what little we have to that secret place with Him. Open our hearts to Him so that we find there the intimacy He literally died to give us.
No need to complicate things. No need to present an image to Him. He already knows. “Just come”.