I am reading in 1 Samuel about when the Philistines took the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites in battle. They placed it beside the statue of their god Dagon. The statue of Dagon would fall on its face 3 nights in a row laid out before the ark and the 3rd time its head and hands broke off. Then their people began to develop tumors. It was moved to 3 locations with the same outcome. The Philistines were willing to recognize God as one of many gods, and they were willing to add Him to their collection, but they soon realized that they could not control the God of the Ark so they sent it away.
In the study notes of this Bible it poses a question:
The Philistines were pagans. Dagon was their chief god who was their god of rain and harvest, but they worshipped many gods, all from which they sought favor. They thought they could just add the one true GOD to their collection. HE wasn't having it. Thinking of God this way made it easy for them to ignore the fact that God demands that people worship Him alone. Many worship God this way. They see God as just one ingredient in a successful life. But God is far more than an ingredient - He is the SOURCE of life itself. Are you seeking God’s favor as only an ingredient of the good life?
I had to pause here and ask God if I am guilty in any way of this kind of limited faith. I’m sure that I am sometimes, but I don't want to be. We are to love God with our whole heart, mind, and soul (Mark 12:30 is just one reference to that quote from Jesus). This is the greatest command. It was given to the Israelites in the desert, it was given to the apostles by Jesus, it is expected of us today. Yet there is a tangible world we can see, touch and feel that is screaming for our attention, tugging at us with responsibilities and expectations, and taunting us with what we fear and what we lack. Our bodies respond physically, emotionally, mentally to all this external stimuli and when we look to God our creator we want an overwhelming “response” to occur. We want to “see, touch, hear, feel, taste”……SOMETHING….ANYTHING to prove to us that He is real. Those experiences are available to us, but are not the every day for everyone.
Then I remember the Israelites…. the ones that lived after the generation who witnessed big miracles in person. They were living according to laws….. so many laws to be kept straight and in proper order. God was no longer having audible meetings with the priests. They were all simply acting out of obedience and going through the motions. I wonder if they ever longed for a manifestation of God’s presence as individuals. There was a long period of God’s silence. I have been opinionated about their many failings, but I wonder how difficult it must have been to “go through the motions” based on victories and experiences of the past generations not ever witnessing a cloud, a pillar of fire, God’s audible voice on a mountain of fire or in a burning bush, manna to eat every morning, etc. etc.
So I ask myself for today…
When it appears that God is silent, does unbelief creep in?
Do I “go through the motions” waiting for the next “experience” to drop some faith in my cup?
Do I look to God merely for favors?
Do I try at times to add God to my life instead of making Him the source of it all?
O Lord God, I want to love You with ALL that I am and ALL that I have. I notice when I fall short. You reveal to me areas where my faith could be stronger. Lord I want to believe fully and completely holding nothing back of myself….help me when I doubt, help me when I hold back, help me when I fear. Lord help me to love You with my whole heart, mind and soul! I don’t want a mechanical faith of “going through the motions” waiting for the next big tangible “movement.” I know that if I ask, You are faithful to give and Your Holy Spirit is roaming the earth to empower us to do what You have given us the grace for. Loving You completely is one of those things. Thank You, Father for answering this prayer.