Do you want more than $3 worth of God?

One of my spiritual gurus is the Church of Ireland Chaplain in Altnagelvin hospital. This is a difficult admission because he’s a Tyrone man.

One of my spiritual gurus is the Church of Ireland chaplain in Altnagelvin hospital. This is a difficult admission because he’s a Tyrone man.

Every so often we sit for a coffee to chat and compare notes. He came to the ministry later in life after many years as a milkman. He used to shock congregations by explaining how his first child was the son of the milkman. At our last caffeine conference he informed me of a recent mission which was led by an American minister Chuck Owens. Apparently the Reverend Owens’ would begin each night of the mission with a prayer similar to these words, ‘Please God disturb my complacency and feelings of contentment’.

Unfortunately this is only a paraphrase. I searched the web looking for a more exact quotation but was left disappointed. Yet the words stuck a cord knowing from my own personal experience that following Christ is all well and good as long as it doesn’t disturb my comfort too much. In my search I discovered this reflection by Wilbur Reese entitled $3.00 Worth of God “I would like to buy three dollars’ worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough of Him to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack, please. I would like to buy three dollars’ worth of God, please.” None of us like to have of cages rattled but if God isn’t challenging our thoughts, feelings and actions then we’re not in a real relationship with God.

I did unearth one statement from Reverend Chuck Owens when he quoted a blind Helen Keller who remarked, ‘the most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight but no vision’. According to Chuck Owens we might be able to see, but do we have to the vision to see what we might be? When we place our hopes of happiness and contentment on anything other than the God who loves us, we become blind. Like the rich young man we will never know true happiness because we don’t want to confront our blindness or disturb our wellbeing. Choosing to live on the surface we will never be challenged to plunge into the depths of who we are and never discover the true God who can be found in the depths of our hearts. Only when we understand who we are in the sight of God, loved and cherished as his child, do we begin to appreciate what is of true value. When we learn to see how we are made in the image of God, we then start to understand how precious the people with whom we share our lives are.