"For day after day they seek me out; they seem eager to know my ways, as if they were a nation that does what is right and has not forsaken the commands of its God. They ask me for just decisions and seem eager for God to come near them. ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say, ‘and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?’" Isaiah 58:1-3 (NIV)
Have you ever felt like you were doing exactly what God wanted you to DO, and it seems that God has responded with silence? It appears He isn't paying attention even though you are doing your best to get His.
You are not alone, and this is nothing new. Our scripture today was written over 2,500 years ago, and the nation of Israel was expressing this very thing. "Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not seen it? Why have we humbled ourselves, and you have not noticed?" We might express it like this today, saying, "God I've been going to church, and youth group and reading my Bible, and things are still the same at school and home. I feel like no matter what I do for you, It doesn't produce the results I'm looking for."
Did you catch that? It should be obvious, but it isn't at times, because our hearts can fool us. The Israelites 2,500 years ago, and us today, are not so different. We secretly serve and DO for God with an expectation. The expectation that He will DO for us, and usually what we want. Do we really think this is what God desires to be the foundation of our relationship with Him? We DO some religious activity or perform some religious service, like a missions trip or going to summer camp, and God has to pay us back with some reward.
It's almost like we perceive God as a dog trainer holding a hoop and asking us to jump through so he can give us the "tasty treat" we are ultimately after. This is a terrible picture and is not what God wants our relationship with Him to look like. God desires, and so should we, that we love Him for the sake of love. Yes, there are natural rewards that come from good relationships, but those cannot be the motivation for being in those relationships.
God loves us because we are worthy to be loved and expects nothing in return, even though our loving Him back does bless Him. And we should love God expecting nothing in return, even though He always promises to provide, always to protect, and to always to be there for us.
Today think about what you expect from God and why you expect it. Ask Him to help you not envision Him as a dog trainer, so that you and I don't act like dogs, performing for treats and not the Trainer.
Note: I do know dogs do love their trainers and DO for them out of love as well. This post is not intended to be insensitive to dog trainers or their dogs :).
Lord Jesus, You are worthy of all praise and honor, no matter what I experience in this life. Help me to love and serve You with a pure heart, out of devotion to You, and not demanding from You. Amen