"For I passed by, and beheld your devotions; I found an alter with this inscription, TO AN UNKNOWN GOD, whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, Him declare I unto you." Acts 17:23 For a moment forget this was Paul speaking to the crowd in Athens, and hear God speaking into that part of our life which is most precious to Him ... "For I passed by and tried to join in on your devotions. ...Why do you so flippantly and superstitiously worship ... me? I want you to know ... that I desire you to really know, that I love you."
Up until now, after years of walking with the King, no matter how early I would awaken and race to the sanctuary ... I would find Him waiting. It frustrated me a little because of the naive concepts that I had fastened to my heart (like instant cliché fixes for the moment) in order to hype the moment in an attempt to bring the miraculous into the doldrums of daily living. Those superstitious type of concepts would frustrate me to no end ... so I would turn them against me ... "Lord, how am I ever to rise up with wings as eagles, if in rushing to wait on you ... You are always ahead of me, waiting for me?" "What good is praying if you already know what I need before I ask?" Woe...our wicked hearts are good at flipping the precious promises of God and molding them into disappointments because of our inability to wait ... and enjoy His presence.
....He loved us first.
....He called us first.
....He waited for us first.
"Many a believer will "amen" these concepts, while in the congregation of the redeemed. But when the door is opened to daily living, we will live a lifetime under the whispers of inconsequential learning, superstitious traditions, and negative self prophecies. We will spend our prime time wincing at the discomforts of disorganization, pointing out the flaws in the efforts of others, disposing of joy while despising the obvious blessings, and cursing our own lives with negative prophecies of future failure BECAUSE ... "God will do good things for others but not for me ... because I am specially set aside as a target of woe ...(eyes go shut)?"
When will we truly and daily welcome His continuous active care within the realm of our focus, with "eyes wide open" and "lives fully engaged", we could truly live within the unfolding wonders of His desire for us. Instead of treating activities of devotion as an interruption or a dutiful task, our souls waking desire could be to fellowship with our God!
....He is loving first. Receive that continuous flow of His goodness.
....He is calling first. Be quiet and listen to His voice that carries your name.
....He is waiting first. Be thankful for He never leaves you nor abandons you.
And He knows the critical importance of getting His Word to us (like an emergency transfusion, into our lives to literally quicken us and keep us alive).
Why will we be content to continue to sing songs with longings like "Open the eyes of my heart, open the eyes of my heart ... I want to see you" and then walk out of the congregational time with no further expectation? Because ...if we were to be honest ... the song is missing what we rarely would dare say in the congregation, but is being muttered under our breath ..."under my terms and within my schedule".
Do you think it was a moment of weakness, when in the Garden of Gethsemane, our Lord said "Not my will but thine be done."? No...that was an eternally courageous moment where Jesus submitted the will of the seen to the greater Will of the Unseen. Looking at the momentary and devastatingly painful Roman Cross, Jesus' hope was built on the same promise as ours ... " and the third day I will rise" ... And the tomb would be robbed by the Resurrected Life that would emerge.
O to live with a daily expectation of the revealing of His mercies, as new every morning!
("Many waters taken into and expelled from our lives cannot quench love, and overwhelming torrential floods cannot drown it; If a man would give all of the worldly treasures of his existence for love, his dwelling place would be utterly desolate of his time, attention, and possessions; and sooner or later there would be a "condemned" or "no trespassing" sign on the door because of LOVE" - Devotional Paraphrase of Song of Solomon 8:7)
Here is the take away -- He is more devoted to your devotion than you will ever be...you cannot earn deeper devotion by your physical strength or mental acumen; but during those private moments where you abandon all else, He will take you deeper and pull you closer ... HE ACTIVELY DESIRES YOU FIRST.