This past Spring, our family took an amazing trip to Disney World. Our dear friends, had wanted to take us to Disney-as a gift. The husband is my husband’s “spiritual father” and led him to Jesus about 19 years ago. This couple goes to Disney almost every year and loves this place like few I’ve ever known. They speak with experience about every restaurant, every ride, every show and adore taking others to enjoy the novelties. We finally coordinated our calendars and set out for our trip. We were floored at the food we ate while at some of the finest restaurants in the parks. We watched princess shows, went on an African safari and swam in the coolest “clown” pool. Our children squealed most of the time, unless they were exhausted from all the fun they were having. As we pulled away from our vacation a week later, my husband and I raved about this amazing gift. It was rich and a time we’ll always cherish. It sparked the question, if this is what our “earthly fathers” give, how much more does our heavenly Father want to give good gifts to His children? The greatest of course, being salvation!! Matthew 7:7-12
It’s fun to talk about blessings and rich ways that God meets us, but what about the flip side? What about missing out on His blessings because of our disobedience? This isn’t a popular topic of discussion for obvious reasons. A good friend shared this example the other day and I thought it was brilliant: Sometimes he and his wife have something really fun planned for their kids, but because of their disobedience that day, they choose not to do that fun thing and instead stay home. The kids don’t even know that they are missing out on a great blessing, but they are. It made me wonder how often we miss out on God’s greatest blessings, because we are knee-deep in our own bad choices.
I often tell the Lord, “I want all that you have for me in this life”. That’s every experience, ministry, blessing, pain, child, relationship, heartache, and joy. I want it all! I don’t want to miss out on anything God has in store for me, because I truly believe that His “gifts” are best. I certainly don’t want to miss out because of my own sin.
King Asa, found in 2 Chronicles 14-16 is a good example of a life that was lived initially obedient to God, but later trusted in his own efforts. At the beginning of his reign as King of Judah, Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord. He got rid of idols and even deposed his very own grandmother, the “queen mother” because she worshiped idols. God brought peace to the land for the first 10 years of his reign and then brought about great triumph over other kingdoms. By God’s word, their enemies were crushed in defeat and Judah found themselves to be the victors again and again. Asa said things like, “Lord, there is no one like you to help the powerless against the mighty. Help us, Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this vast army. Lord, you are our God; do not let mere mortals prevail against you.”
But in the 36th year of Asa’s reign, found in chapter 16, he began to trust in his own abilities and began to “wheel and deal”. He made a treaty with the King of Aram. He took money from the temple and paid him to be an ally.
A seer (vision communicator) came to Asa and told him that because he had chosen to trust in this other king, rather than in the Lord, he would now fight this battle alone. The seer reminded him about times when the Lord was “enough” for him and how God had won battles against armies much larger than Judah. Then Hanani, the seer quotes a popular verse to him that I’ve grown to love:
“For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.” vs 9
We love that verse and quote it often, because it’s so true, but don’t miss the last part of this verse. For Asa, it meant walking the rest of life without the Lord’s help.
“In this you have done foolishly; therefore from now on you shall have wars.”
Asa became angry and began oppressing his people because of his own grief. He was later struck with a disease in his feet. Consider some of these last words written about him. They were a sort of epitaph, which spoke of the sad state that ended his life:
Though his disease was severe, even in his illness he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.
Early in life, Asa had experienced the strength of the Lord. Battles that weren’t his to win were won by God’s hand. God had moved mightily and blessed Asa’s obedience, which is very clear throughout these scriptures. But then, Asa chose to believe in himself and others, instead of the strength of the Lord. For this, he suffered greatly. He missed out on the blessings of victory and prominence. His kingdom, that was once great, was marked with defeat. Instead of having a heart at peace, he became angry and bitter and sick and even then, did not turn to the Lord.
God desires an obedient heart from us as well. He longs to show His great strength in our lives. If your life is feeling dry and you wonder why others around you are experiencing peace, is it possible that you are like Asa? Instead of offering up every “battle” to the Lord, you are trying to fight them yourself? Your best efforts will not win wars, but will leave you crushed in defeat. Perhaps God wants to give you a platform to influence others for Him, but you’ve become distracted or you’re “interfering” like Asa did and so you’re missing out on the real influence God could grant you. It might be time to examine and refocus. I have to do this often. We all do, if we want to walk closely with the Lord.
God will you show us areas where we are being less than obedient and cause our hearts to fall at your feet in surrender? In our weakness, you are made known!
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
2 Corinthians 12:9