God is trying to get my attention about my relationship with him, and it’s scaring me.

On Monday I wrote about an inner life that is “like a banana tree filled with monkeys jumping up and down.” Today in my time alone with God, as I was meditating on Habakkuk 3, he spoke to me about three more inner-life issues. Actually, he used this passage to ask me three questions about how I understand my relationship and my time spent with him. First, the passage that started the scary questions:

Habakkuk 3:16-18 (NLT)
I trembled inside when I heard all this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror. I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us. Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.

Here are the three questions God asked me through this passage:

1. What Are Your Assumptions?
Habakkuk’s lips trembled with fear, he became weak-kneed and he shook in terror as he heard from God. I read Warren Wiersbe’s comment on this in his Bible Exposition Commentary of the Old Testament: “Many people have the idea that it’s always an enjoyable experience getting to know God in a deeper way, but that’s not what the saints of God in the Bible would say.”

That’s true. Think about Moses who trembled in God’s holy presence; Joshua and David who fell on their faces before the Lord; Peter, James, and John, who were left face down in terror at the Mount of Transfiguration; and John who fell at the feet of the glorified Christ in Revelation.

Do I assume that my time alone with God will always be nice and comfortable and peaceful, or am I ready for him to drive me to my knees as I come into his holy presence? (This kind of reminds me of a line from a the song “I Can Only Imagine.”)

2. What Are Your Motives?
I kept reading in Wiersbe’s commentary: “God doesn’t reveal Himself to superficial saints who are only looking for ‘a new experience’ they can brag about, or to curious Christians who want to “sample” deeper fellowship with God but not at too great a price.”

How are your heart and attitudes, Mike? What are your real motives for wanting to draw closer to God today? I need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the answers to these questions to me, because I am not aware enough of my own motivations.

I had to ask myself some hard questions here, allowing the Holy Spirit to honestly search me and know my heart, to test me and know my anxious thoughts, to see if there is any offensive way in me (Psalm 139:23-24). I wondered why God was even asking me these questions. I think my motives are right when I come to him. But are they? Do I cherish my time alone with God because I might be able to blog about it later? Uhhhhhh….. What are your motivations for blogging, Mike? And how about your ministry? And the things you post on Facebook? And the things you write? And … (What questions would God be asking you here? Do you study Scripture to look like a Bible scholar in your group? Do you have a quiet time so you can appear pious among your friends?)

Are our motives ever pure? I’m not sure. But I do believe God is calling me to make mine more pure. I need to test my motives more as I go through my day. It’s part of the practice of guarding my heart.

By the way, I believe my motive for this blog is to honestly share my own struggles, because I think it might help you. I really hope this is true.

What Are Your Expectations?
One phrase in the Habakkuk passage really grabbed my attention: “I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike the people who invade us.” Wow. This was not what Habakkuk wanted or had hoped for (see chapter 1 of his book). But this phrase is more than Habakkuk’s quiet resignation. It shows his strong faith in God and therefore his surrender to God’s will. Habakkuk trusted God.

Could I say, “I will wait quietly for the coming day when disaster will strike”? Could I have that kind of peace in the midst of chaos? Could I trust God, knowing my nice little life (a phrase I’m borrowing from John Eldridge) was coming to an abrupt stop?

Habakkuk had a big disadvantage here. He was a prophet of God, so he knew what was soon to happen. Habakkuk did know what the future held, and he still trusted in the God who held the future.

The abundant life may not be what we’ve always thought it is. As Wiersbe says, “Habakkuk couldn’t rejoice in his circumstances, but he could rejoice in his God!”

Habakkuk had learned what Paul also came to understand: “Always be joyful. Keep on praying. No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16-18). Paul knew this even as he sat in a prison singing praises to God. Jesus knew this in the Garden and on the cross. Not just resignation to the circumstances, but surrender to God’s will.

This one is really scary. Why is God showing me this now? Why is he asking me about this? Unlike Habakkuk, I don’t know what the future holds. But I know God is there. So I’ll learn to wait on him.

So, has God ever asked you any of these questions? I’d like to hear how you responded to them.

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Michael Mack has been involved in small group ministry as a pastor, writer, trainer, and speaker for more than 25 years. He founded SmallGroups.com in 1995 and started Small Group Leadership in 2012. He became the 12th editor of Christian Standard magazine in 2017 and continues to speak in churches about small groups, discipleship, and leadership. He lives in Pewee Valley, Kentucky (just outside Louisville), with his wife Heidi. They have four young adult children. Michael enjoys mountain and road biking with a group of friends. See the "About Michael Mack" page under About Us for more about him.

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  1. Sherry

    November 4, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    Mike, I have been wondering lately why do I feel like I don't deserve Gods favor. Why do I believe that if I pray for someone it will only make things worse. Reading your blog reminded me that a few years ago I found myself in the midst of self induced chaos. In a moment of incredulious panic and anxiety I started to clean the house to avoid my thoughts. I picked up a long forgotten miniture statue my mom had given me. I took a toothbrush to it to remove the dust, exposing the details of the tiny sculpture. Carved into the base was the following scripture,"Pray without ceasing."I learned in the weeks that followed that God was right by my side. He sat in a chair next to me in an emergency room, held me when my emotions were overwelming and said to me each morning "Hey, get up we can do this.
    Thanks for reminding me that He loves me and that in my most chaotic moments,He is right by my side and if all else fails, He won't.


  2. Michael C. Mack

    November 4, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks, so much for sharing this, Sherry! Wow! God is good, and he is in control even when we sometimes feel like things are spinning out of control. What a great testimony and affirmation of God's love for us.


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