Allow God to be God – Lance Berkman

September 1, 2016

“See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end.” —Hebrews 3:12-14


It can be easy to become bitter when your sight is fixed only on yourself.


I remember one time in my baseball career when I was going through a particularly bad stretch. One day during that stretch, I was at the plate in Montreal. I hit the ball for what would have been a beautiful three-run homer when, at the last second, the ball curved just enough to become a foul. It was a heart-breaker. I began to blame God for my struggle on the field. “Lord, why would You let that happen?”


I even tried to reason with God, “I’ve been living my life the way that you want me to. Why are you letting me go through this trial?”


When you’re in the fishbowl of the Major League Baseball, you begin to think that everyone in the world is paying attention to your game—that the world revolves around baseball. I know that I became very near-sighted and began to grow bitter. In fact, my heart was hardening toward God because I had never struggled that much in my career up to that point.


It reminds me of the story of the prodigal son, except that I wasn’t the prodigal son, I was the older brother in the story. Often when we read this passage we focus on the younger brother who goes and squanders his life but the older brother is the one that the story ends on. This is the guy who stayed at his father’s house and did everything that his father wanted him to do. But at the end of the story we find him bitter because God has chosen to bless his younger brother.


A lot of times you can find yourself just as estranged from the Father as the prodigal son. If we are using our conduct to try to gain leverage with God, we are missing out on experiencing the heart of God. We can be separated from God by choosing our own way but we can also be separated from God by trying to put Him in our debt, thinking that He owes us something.


If our hearts become hardened toward God it usually comes from our unmet expectations. We feel a need or desire that God could meet but doesn’t, and we throw a grown-up temper tantrum like I did in Montreal. There are countless things that we might try to blame God for: Failure of some kind, a child’s sickness, a loved one who passes away, any number of other legitimate heartaches. But the key to enjoying the Christian life is to allow God to be God. Ever since Adam rebelled in the Garden of Eden, human nature has tried to take God off the throne and put itself there. But in order to experience God on a deeper level, we have to continually submit our will to His.


“ I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.” —Romans 7:14-20


There have been times when my kids have thrown a temper tantrum and we just wait. We let them pitch a fit and cry it out because eventually they will lose steam and realize that they will not get their way.


That’s exactly what happened to me when I threw my little fit in Montreal. God let me kick and scream, in a sense, until I realized that this life is about way more than me getting my own way. God isn’t focused solely on my pleasure and comfort here on earth; instead, He wants to mold me to be who He wants me to be. Recognizing this has allowed me to have the right attitude toward the Lord. Looking back at all the blessings that God has given me and all the ways in which He shows His favor to His people allows me to see the bigger picture and take comfort in His forgiving grace and perfect plan.


“God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” —Luke 18:13


—Lance Berkman


Lance Berkman is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.


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