The Light Bill
As I’ve mentioned before, our church is in a high-poverty community, which means there are a lot of financial needs with the folks who come to the church. Whether it's money for food, or utility bills, or rent, or medication - there just doesn't seem to be a day that goes by without someone asking for financial help. While part of me would love to be able to simply pay all of these expenses, I know that money's not always the best way for us to help because it doesn't address the underlying issues of why many folks are in the situation they're in. So it's a continual process of seeking God's wisdom on how best to actually help, while at the same time, using each situation to encourage people to reconnect with their Creator - because that's where true help and healing comes from.
However, because so many people come to us only when they need help, another struggle for me has been to not become cynical towards these folks who seem to have endless needs. I was confronted with this recently when a woman who hasn’t been to church in a long time sent me a text asking how I was. I was excited to hear from her, since it’s been a while. I responded that I was good, and asked how she was. Her next text said, “I’m not good. I need $43 dollars for my light bill.” As I read her text, I realized that the last time I had heard from her was also the last time she needed money. That got me thinking back over our relationship, and I realized that the only time she made contact with me was when she needed something.
It was a frustrating realization, and I found myself thinking, “Wow, she only contacts me when she needs something. This isn't a relationship - she's just using me to get what she wants.” Those thoughts had barely finished running through my mind when I could almost hear God saying, “I know exactly how you feel.” In that moment I realized how often I treat my relationship with God the same way this woman was treating her relationship with me - only going to Him when I need something.
This approach to a relationship with God is clearly not what He wants. Leviticus 26:12 describes how God thinks about our relationship with Him, as He tells us, “I will walk among you - I will be your God, and you will be my people.” God wants to be with us. He wants to walk through life with us, and He wants us to desire the same thing. The amazing part in all of this is that God desires a relationship with us because He sees us as His precious creation - worth sending His Son to die for. His love for us is not superficial, but rather constant, loving, forgiving, and sacrificial. If we are to know and understand the treasure of the One we’re in a relationship with, we need to be spending time with Him, talking with Him, enjoying fellowship with Him, and trusting Him with every area of our lives.
The challenge comes when we get so caught up in the activity of life that we don't spend time with God, and we begin to look at Him as simply a way to be rescued from the situations in life that we think are beyond our control. That’s not a “relationship”. So today, let's take time to prioritize our relationship with God. Let’s spend time with Him without asking for anything. Let’s thank Him. Let’s ask how we can serve Him today. And let’s talk with Him about what's going on in our lives, both the challenges and the victories, knowing He is for us. And then tomorrow, let’s get up and once again spend time with the One who made us and loves us more than we can ever imagine.