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Sometimes, late at night, I have trouble sleeping. Sometimes, I just can’t get to sleep; other times, I may sleep for an hour and then wake up and not be able to fall back asleep.
Maybe it's stress, maybe I’m just not tired, maybe it’s that meatball sub sandwich I ate way too close to bedtime. But whenever it happens, I just sort of lie there in bed, and random thoughts in the form of questions start running through my mind. And, inevitably, all of these random thoughts come back to one question: “What does God really want from me?”
I’m sure all of us have had that same thought one time or another. Perhaps, like me, you occasionally have those sleepless nights, and slowly that nagging question keeps coming back: “What does God really want from me?”
This question can take many forms: “What does he want?” “What does God expect?” “Is God pleased with me?” “Am I doing enough?” “Am I good enough?” But it all boils down to this: What does God really expect from me, or any of us, for that matter? I mean, if I knew what he expected, I could do it. And I suspect that if I did that, then he would be pleased. And if he were pleased, then that would be enough, right? So what is it that God really expects of us?
That question is answered for us in the Bible. You see, after Moses led the children of Israel out of Egyptian slavery, they asked that very same question. I wonder if Moses had sleepless nights, asking the same questions that I ask whenever I can’t sleep. In the book of Deuteronomy (that’s way back in the Old Testament) Moses wrote:
And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? He requires only that you fear the LORD your God, and live in a way that pleases him, and love him and serve him with all your heart and soul. And you must always obey the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good. (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)
I honestly believe that God expects the same out of us as he did for the ancient Israelites thousands of years ago. He is an ever-present, unchanging God. So, it’s reasonable to believe that his expectations have not changed for his people. I guess that there’s no need to spend another sleepless night wondering what God expects from me.
There are four things God expects from us. First of allt, he expects that we fear him. That word fear is not the same as afraid, like I’m afraid of the dark, or my wife is afraid of heights. But it does mean that we need to respect God and be in total awe of him. So we need to ask ourselves: “Do I live in awe of how amazing God is?” If the answer is yes, then we can go on to the second expectation.
The second thing God expects is for us to live in a way that pleases him. That simply means that I need to put aside my dreams, my will, my goals and my plans in exchange for his goals and plans. That is easier said than done. But just think about it for a minute. If he can create the world and everything in it (including you and me) and keep it running in a rather purposeful fashion, then can’t we trust his purpose for our lives? Sure we can.
Let’s look at the third expectation. And while we’re at it, let’s look at the fourth one as well, because you really can’t do number three without also doing number four.
The next thing God expects from us is for us to love him. This is easy to say, but it is hard to actually show. In fact, the only way that we can really show that we love God (that’s number three) is by serving God (that’s number four.) A lot of times we are willing to say that we love God, but we never really take the time show him that we love him by serving him. And we serve God by serving others.
So there you have it, a quick and easy four-point checklist. Next time you have a sleepless night and that nagging question comes creeping back into your mind, just remember Deuteronomy 10:12-13. And ask yourself these four questions:
Are you in awe of him?
Do you live for him?
Do you love him?
Do you serve him by serving others?
If you can say yes to all four of these questions, then you know what God expects from you. And when know what God expects from you, then you can rest easily and have a good night’s sleep. Good night.