“And there by the Ahava Canal, I gave orders for all of us to fast and humble ourselves before our God. We prayed that he would give us a safe journey and protect us, our children, and our goods as we traveled. For I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to accompany us and protect us from enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king, ‘Our God’s hand of protection is on all who worship him, but his fierce anger rages against those who abandon him.’ So we fasted and earnestly prayed that our God would take care of us, and he heard our prayer.” 8:21-23
I find this part of the story really interesting (and relatable). He’s hesitant to reach out for help, because he doesn’t want to invite doubt of God’s capabilities. Did he over-promise what God can do? Did pride creep in? Would it be reasonable to need horsemen and soldiers?
Sometimes we make promises for God that he doesn’t want us to, and this can bring more doubt and misunderstanding to people instead of more interest in a relationship with him.
-Promise us safety.
-Guarantee anything (happiness, health, marriage, children, success).
-Need you to embellish his greatness. He is perfectly great.
-Love us perfectly.
-Know our hearts and how to reach people.
-Always show up.
It’s tempting to want to convince people about God’s greatness. I remember in youth group settings, the speaker or pastor would always urgently exclaim that a life with Christ was a “free gift!” You don’t have to do anything! Just pray a quick prayer and wham bam! The concept is true; we cannot earn God’s love and it’s available to everyone, all the time. But Jesus is the first person to warn us that it’s costly. It will cost you everything to be with him, and he wants us to think that over before we climb onboard (Luke 14). I think their eagerness to convince middle schoolers that God is worthwhile had them sweetening the deal, when it doesn’t need to be sweetened.
This is a bit of a rabbit trail from the text, but it caught my eye and got me thinking.
Do you find yourself hiding unfavorable parts of God’s character and over-promising things?
Or, has this happened to you? Do you have some past hurt where you felt misled about who God is? Either way, reconcile with him about it today.