The reason so many people are frustrated in their relationship with God has little to do with their passion, their love for God, or their worship. It has everything to do with their obedience. We will always be frustrated in our relationship with God when we approach Him on our terms rather than willing to obey what He has command us to do.
The New Testament contains a story which illustrates this very principle. Matthew 19:16-30 tells the story of the rich young man and how he missed having a relationship with God through Jesus. The young man came to Jesus with a question; “What must I do to have eternal life?” The young man knew there was something missing in his life. He had wealth and at least had a desire to live a moral life, but that wasn’t enough. The young man came to Jesus for the answer, but the answer is not what the young man wanted to hear. “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” Jesus tells the young man what he is to do, but the young man wouldn’t do it. “But when the young man heard this, he went sadly away because he had many possessions” (NLT).
The young man wanted eternal life on his terms. Yes, he realized something was missing from his life, but he had his limits to what he was willing to do. Because he was not willing to do what Jesus asked he went away sad. I have a feeling that if Jesus had asked the young man to fast for 40 days he would have done it. If Jesus had asked the young man to spend time in study I think the young man would have made his best effort. The young man had a desire for eternal life, a desire to know God better and deeper.
Many of us have a desire to know God better and deeper. We want eternal life. Not just Heaven, how wonderful and glorious that will be, but a significant life now. We want to have an eternal relationship with God. We can list off the things we have done in order to have this relationship, yet we still find something is missing. All our quiet times and prayers have not brought us closer to knowing God. The reason we have missed God is because we have failed to do what He has asked. We are sad in our relationship with God because we are not willing to come to Him on His terms.
Jesus asks us to be baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. We walk away frustrated because that is a “work” and a relationship with God is built on “faith”.
Jesus asks us to invest time in the elderly couple next door. We cry out to God for His presence because we are too busy to go next door, there are more important things to do.
The reason men like Abraham, Moses, and David had amazing relationships with God is not because of their quiet times and fasting. It is because through the actions of their faith they experienced God’s presence in their lives. “Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was declared right with God because of what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, he was trusting God so much that he was willing to do whatever God told him to do. His faith was made complete by what he did—by his actions” (James 2:21-22; NLT). Abraham was willing to follow God even if it meant giving up his son Isaac. Are you willing to go so far?
A relationship with God is not just found in the study of His Word and in prayer. A relationship with God is developed through our obedience, as we step out in faith and experience God at work in our lives. We need to stop coming to God on our terms and begin to surrender ourselves to who He is.