The good news is that God does not want from us more than we can offer. He doesn’t expect us to give 110%.
He does, however, expect us to give 100%… of us… to him.
God wants us entirely, mind, body and soul. He wants us to embrace him with our every goal, hope, aspiration, need, desire and challenge. He wants to lead us down the path we need to take to reach salvation and live eternally in his presence.
Like his chosen people in the Old Testament, that journey may not be an easy one, but a necessary one. When Moses led them out to the wilderness it would take 40 years of a level-setting spiritual boot camp for his people Israel to purge their 400 year connection to the gods of Egypt. God forced them to rely solely on his own mercy to provide food everyday. And when they lost faith, like building the golden calf, they had to pay the price for their spiritual weakness. Even Moses, who answered God’s call time and time again, failed to do as God spoke and was punished by not being allowed to enter the land they were promised.
It was not until the Egyptian generation had died away, and their children only born in the wilderness with the strong reliance on God’s mercy, did his chosen people finally make it into the land of milk and honey.
The funny thing about offering ourselves up to God is that, well, he will take it.
My daughter, for example, had been struggling with managing her stress level this year in school. We had prayed often and asked for God’s guidance. She needed at least an 80 on her exam to remain in the college program. As we neared her final exams and prayed we realized this final exam was not a test of math, but a test of faith. My daughter understood that and accepted God’s guidance and went to bed, ready to trust God’s will.
The next day, the day of the exam, she awoke with a high fever. She opened her eyes and said “Thanks, God. Still testing my faith, huh?” And he was.
After she took the final exam she waited for the teacher to let her know what was her final score. The teacher scored the test and told her she had failed.
My daughter left the classroom devastated. The result of the test would require her changing her entire college plans. She had prayed and put her faith in God and she failed anyway. She knew God must have had other plans for her. She wept to herself, but knew it was God’s will and accepted it. She didn’t like it, but she accepted it.
However, it was another test of faith.
As she walked outside of the classroom the teacher ran out after her and told her she had given her the wrong person’s results. She had actually passed. She got an 80. God didn’t give her what she wanted (a 100), but exactly what she needed.
As her faith grew, God’s test of that faith grew. The more she was tested, the more she had to offer more faith. The more she offered faith, the more she was tested. She started giving 10%, God wanted 11. When she gave 11, God wanted 12. Why?
Because God wants all of us. 100%. Nothing less. We are his creation, after all. Why would he want less?
The saints have often complained about God’s continual and growing moral tests of faith. I can’t remember the saint’s name, but one of them said to God, after a very hard moral challenge, “if this is the way you treat your friends, no wonder you have so many enemies.”
Think of Mother Theresa. After giving her life to Jesus, she did not feel his presence again, except for one brief moment. For fifty years she felt nothing, but lived everyday for him.
Because God wants 100%. Any amount of ourselves we do not give to God is tainted by our own imperfection. When we offer ourselves up, God must purify us from our own sinfulness by testing us, forcing us to rely on him.
For my daughter, she did not have faith when it came to school work. Her fear was interfering with her faith. When she offered that up, God had to push her more and more until he had finally forced the fear from her. Only then was she able to fill that void with faith.
Our moral journey, our path toward heaven will not be easy because it can’t be. We are holding on to too many percentages of our lives, not giving God all of us.
We are his children. He wants all of us. Not just once a week on Sundays. Not just when life treats us poorly. He wants us when we work, when we talk to our kids, when we mow our yards, when we wash the car, when we face illness, when we lose our jobs or lose a relative close to us.
God wants us all. Whatever you can give him, he will take… and wait for the rest.