Top 10 Things I Don’t Want To Hear God Say When I Get To Heaven
10. We’re out of slaw.
9. You can’t have the Netflix password
8. The diet soda is over there
7. You’re supposed to replace the toner
6. Don’t touch the thermostat
5. We have macaroni and cheese every night
4. Meet your new roommate, Steve Irwin
3. Elvis has only just arrived
2. There’ll be an Administrative Board meeting at 3 pm
1. I gave you over to the stubbornness of your heart, to follow your devices.
The last one has got to be one of the most emotional and stressful expressions God utters in the Old Testament. It’s an intimate revelation of God’s frustration and love. The Psalmist records God saying, “I let you do your own thing, follow your plans, despite stubbornness, and what I knew to be wrong; I let you go.” I sent you off despite everything to the contrary because that’s what you claimed you wanted and you wouldn’t listen. God sounds like a frustrated parent. Idea number one: sometimes, God’s people get it wrong. Believing themselves right in the face of obvious wrongness, they, as the Psalm says, “simply weren’t agreeable toward God.”
There are expressions you hear in some circles, “God’s ways are unknowable and mysterious.” God is beyond us. I also think we use phrases like that when we want to let ourselves off the hook and keep doing our own thing. How could we know what God, so far beyond us, want us to do? Such reasoning is an excuse. In Psalm 81, nothing is beyond us; God couldn’t be clearer. God’s call for dialogue is in black and white, and we feign ignorance.
Idea number two: God asks in verse 11, “How I wish my people Israel would listen to me!” There’s no mystery there. Why aren’t we listening? Is it easier to pretend we’re still wandering in a wilderness of our design? Yes. When we walk without a purpose, we fight among ourselves. As we stop and listen to God, we realize our God-given potential to be the church. The authentic and honest voice of God seems challenging to hear, but it is not hard for those who are listening.
The Rev. Richard Lowell Bryant is pastor of Burgaw United Methodist Church in Burgaw, N.C. This post is republished with permission from his blog, Richard’s Food for Thought.