Human hearts tend to be stubborn. This is especially true when it comes to their relationship to God. Unbelievers are in a perpetual state of actively rejecting the revelation of the one true God and suppressing their knowledge of his existence. Believers too, sadly, practice our own form of suppressing the knowledge of God. Each time we sin, we bow our hearts to idols and engage in a form of atheism. We stubbornly insist that God cannot see and that God cannot chasten, thus we are free to sin.
Or, more often, we simply do not allow God to provide and care for us. Rather than letting each day have its own set of anxieties and worries, we constantly borrow trouble from the future. We obsessively stress, worry, and attempt to control our lives every step of the way. This leads to a type of living that has been dubbed “practical atheism.” It’s a life that outwardly expresses faith in God but that practically operates as if he did not exist.
Israel was notorious for living lives of practical atheism. They were constantly attempting to live like the nations around them and control their own destinies. In so doing, they forfeited their role as a light to the nations and ultimately forsook the covenant God made with them outside of Egypt. But all the while, God was graciously calling them back to himself. Listen to his words in Psalm 81:8-10:
Listen, my people, and I will admonish you. Israel, if you would only listen to me! There must not be a strange god among you; you must not bow down to a foreign god. I am the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. (CSB)
Look at those last few words. God says, “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” What a phenomenal promise! The Lord declares that if only Israel would open her mouth wide, he would fill it. If she would only allow him, he would sustain her. He would provide for her. He would nurture her. He would protect her.
But throughout their history, Israel rejected that love and kept her mouth tightly closed, rejecting the care God offered her.
Does that sound like your life sometimes? Do you stubbornly insist on caring for yourself rather than allowing God to care for you? Do you incessantly worry about things like heath and financial security? Do you lie awake at night running through your to-do list for the next day?
When you insist on being the master of your own destiny, you are shutting your mouth on the provision of God. Rather than opening wide and allowing him to fill you, you are setting your jaw against him and rejecting his care.
If you find yourself in that position today, take some time to meditate on these verses from Psalm 81 and ask the Lord to forgive you for your self-reliance. And then open wide and accept the gracious care that God offers to his children!
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