I have come to realize that for a few years now I have viewed God as my personal trainer. I don’t know why I started seeing him that way--it’s not one of the pictures the Bible paints for us. The Bible reveals Him as our helper, our comforter, our refuge, our salvation, our defender, and my favorite right now--our Shepherd. So then why did I start thinking he was my personal trainer? Let’s start with the truth….

I happen to know that he loves me too much to leave me the way that I am. He is creating a masterpiece, and he uses a chisel. He wants me to be more surrendered. He wants me to fear less. He wants me to trade living my life my way for living it as worship to Him and for the good of others. Many times, He accomplishes good things in me by asking me to do hard things. To give up dear things.  To step outside my comfort zone. He may allow painful things to happen. So where did I go wrong?

Well, as I gazed at the Lord, I saw him always looking at my flaws. When I tried to discern what He wanted me to do, I just could not imagine that He would have me do anything except the hardest of options. I always expect Him to say, “Give me another 20 push ups,” and never, “Well done,” or, “Do what you enjoy.” I misunderstood God’s heart and it robbed me of the joy of seeing part of God’s beauty.

This is where the refreshing reality comes for me, and I hope for you, too:

God’s singular purpose or highest goal is not to improve me. 

Our Father’s heart is not only to create a race of super-efficient, surrendered soldiers. He is not out to create our acceptability or make us lovable. His primary goal is not to accomplish things through us. 

His love is not single-faceted, only seeking our good through hard things.

It is a radiant, brilliant, shining, multi-faceted love that is unstoppable. He loved me just the way I was at the beginning and He still loves me 100% now. 

Psalm 23 says that he leads His sheep to quiet waters and green pastures. God is not a personal trainer pushing us to achieve more on the spiritual bench press. He is a shepherd leading us through the hard things, and we can know it is toward the peace and provision of more relationship with Him.  

How is God doing when I react to the latest hard thing meant for my good as an angry mess of tears, confusion, retreat, and refusal? Is He nervous that He and I will be exposed as failures? Is He freaking out, yelling, “Don’t you know it’s for your own good, bonehead?”

Nope. 

I think His face is beaming with joy that I belong to him no matter how hard my head is. Love like that transcends accomplishments, approval, abilities, maturity, and improvement.

Which is good, because those things are never the point. More relationship is.