Two groups of children line up and hold on to a rope. “Ready—get set—GO!” Each team tries to pull the other across the line, tugging and pulling until they all topple over, laughing and enjoying the game. However, in the game of life, this tug of war is not so enjoyable. In fact, it is a life and death struggle.
We say, and we pray, that we want to please God. But which god do we truly want to please? When we pray for God’s will, is there another voice, hidden in our hearts that distinctly pray a different prayer, to a different god? I know I have to battle this ‘other’ god that pulls on my heart. We learn what God has done for us, and we want to respond in faith and with thankfulness, but we are in a tug of war.
Paul expressed the feeling we can all relate to in Romans 7:15-25 when he writes about the struggle to do what he wants to do while sin wages war against his good intentions. The problem arises when we are in denial about the fact that our true desire may be to please another god.
In a culture where every craving can be indulged, and every craving is encouraged, the tug of war is actually a fierce battle. The god can be money, sex, power, pride, all of which point to one true love. We love ourselves and we love our own way. We worship our own desires.
My two-year-old grand-daughter has learned that momma and daddy sometimes presume upon her will by saying “No”. To show her indignation she covers her ears and squeals a little for good measure. It can be a turbulent transition when our little ones must learn their reign over the household has ended. Sadly, the transition to self denial takes a lifetime.
H.E. Fosdick writes in The Meaning of Prayer, that “the great servants of the Kingdom were men of powerful prayer because they were men of dominant desires for whose fulfillment they were willing to sacrifice anything….hurling their lives after their prayers” (150).
It is hard to overcome that other god, who fills our minds with ulterior motives and who even sees religion as a way to satisfy some of the cravings that he loves to instill into our souls. Jesus knew this and he revealed to us his own ‘dominant desire’. He hurled his life after….you and me. He gave it all, in spite of a plea to find another way, he accepted God’s “No”, and did the work that would free us from the power of that other god over us.
So what do we sacrifice for? What do we hurl our lives after? The answer to these questions will reveal our dominant desire and which god we truly want to please.