Have you ever had good motives but got shut down anyway? I was reading the account of David, when he was finally settled as king and he lived in a big fancy house, one befitting a king, of course. The prophet Samuel came to visit and David declared, "I want to build a house for God! It's not fair that I am in here while God is out in a tent." The passage doesn't infer what Samuel really thought about it, he simply told David, "Go ahead and do what you want. God is with you." But that night God decided to tell Samuel what He thought about it.
"But that night, the word of God came to Nathan saying, “Go and tell my servant David: This is God’s word on the matter: You’re going to build a ‘house’ for me to live in? Why, I haven’t lived in a ‘house’ from the time I brought the children of Israel up from Egypt till now. All that time I’ve moved about with nothing but a tent. And in all my travels with Israel, did I ever say to any of the leaders I commanded to shepherd Israel, ‘Why haven’t you built me a house of cedar?’ 2 Samuel 7:4-7 (Message)
Clearly God isn't asking for much. Then He says this, "So here is what you are to tell my servant David: The God-of-the-Angel-Armies has this word for you: I took you from the pasture, tagging along after sheep, and made you prince over my people Israel. I was with you everywhere you went and mowed your enemies down before you. Now I’m making you famous, to be ranked with the great names on earth. And I’m going to set aside a place for my people Israel and plant them there so they’ll have their own home and not be knocked around any more. Nor will evil men afflict you as they always have, even during the days I set judges over my people Israel. Finally, I’m going to give you peace from all your enemies." 2 Samuel 8-11 (Message)
Usually when you're life is going well there is at least 1 or 2 people that make it their mission on earth to protect you from becoming arrogant and puffed up, so they will remind you where you came from. If you are someone who came from nothing, then you know that reminder doesn't feel very good. In fact, it often feels like a slap in the face, as if they will never allow you to enjoy flourishing. God begins His message to David with a reminder, only the motivation was something entirely different.
God was not judging David, or condescending, or accusing, or putting him down. In fact it was quite the opposite. His reminder that reduced him to nothing more than a shepherd came from a position of love and of relationship. He was upgrading David with a worldwide promotion! Just read what He said next!
“Furthermore, God has this message for you: God himself will build you a house! When your life is complete and you’re buried with your ancestors, then I’ll raise up your child, your own flesh and blood, to succeed you, and I’ll firmly establish his rule. He will build a house to honor me, and I will guarantee his kingdom’s rule permanently. I’ll be a father to him, and he’ll be a son to me. When he does wrong, I’ll discipline him in the usual ways, the pitfalls and obstacles of this mortal life. But I’ll never remove my gracious love from him, as I removed it from Saul, who preceded you and whom I most certainly did remove. Your family and your kingdom are permanently secured. I’m keeping my eye on them! And your royal throne will always be there, rock solid.” 2 Samuel 7:12-18 (Message)
Wow! I had always heard that God wouldn't let David build God a house because he was a man of war, or because his sin was too great. I heard it through the lens of punishment not promotion! There is not a hint of that attitude in this passage. It feels more like a one-up situation. "You say that you love me? I love you more! You're wanting to build me a house? I'm gonna build you a bigger one. You think you live in luxury now, just wait and see what I will do!"
There is a line in a worship song that I have sung a thousand times before, but suddenly it arrested my heart, "It's your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, pour out our praise". In y mind's eye everything I had relied on in the past was being stripped away. I was reduced to nothing but the breath in my lungs, realizing that when reduced to nothing, He had already given me all I needed. His breath became enough! His reminder was not a "you're such a worm" kind of word, in fact, it was quite the opposite. It was my Father saying, "My breath is heaven sent and it's all you need. Let's build from here. It is enough, you are enough, and I am able to finish what I began in you."
What a great beginning! After all, creation was formed with nothing more than His breath, wasn't it?
Here's what David had to say about it,
"God is sheer mercy and grace;
not easily angered, he’s rich in love.
He doesn’t endlessly nag and scold,
nor hold grudges forever.
He doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve,
nor pay us back in full for our wrongs.
As high as heaven is over the earth,
so strong is his love to those who fear him.
And as far as sunrise is from sunset,
he has separated us from our sins.
As parents feel for their children,
God feels for those who fear him.
He knows us inside and out,
keeps in mind that we’re made of mud."
Psalms 103 (Message)
Maybe as you were reading this, you were condemning yourself with all the you shouldn't have's and if only's. You are forgetting the main point! Our Father sent His son to reconcile us back to Himself so we can have the kind of relationship with God that David had. He was human, he made mistakes, and look what God did! God is an expert at do-overs. Stop telling yourself all the things you don't have and start with your breath. If you have His breath in your lungs, it's the perfect foundation for all God is longing to bless you with. Breathe in. Breathe out. Trust God with the rest.