from hireling for God to lover of God

shell heart

A lover of God is better and more pleasing to God than a hundred thousand hirelings.

from Theologica Germanica (ca. 1350), a document birthed out of the fourteenth-century German “Friends of God” renewal movement, later championed by Martin Luther


For many years, I was happy being a busy, responsible, visibly dutiful worker for God. In fact, I was more than happy to do the work — I felt a lot of personal pride at the work I was doing and how ‘important’ I must have been in God’s eyes.

Then, suddenly, by an avalanche of circumstance, all of my ability to do busy, responsible, visible work for God fell through. I was forced to slow my pace of life to an unhurried crawl. I looked embarrassingly irresponsible to all of the people who before saw me as competent and capable. And the only, occasional, miniscule work I could still do for God was invisible to most people and seemed desperately insignificant – especially to me.

I was crushed. Heart, soul, mind, and strength were all in turmoil – simultaneously. Who was I if I wasn’t doing stuff for God, saving souls and leading Bible studies and doing amazing, visible, wonderful, mouth-dropping things for him? How could He do this to me? I floundered. For a few years. They were some dark, desperate years.

And then: Slowly, so slowly that it took me a long time to see it, in seeped the light. And then: Quietly, so quietly that it took me a long time to hear it, I could hear God’s Voice breathing into the deep recesses of my heart. Over time, here are the pieces I put together:

Jocey, don’t you belong to Me? Isn’t your life Mine to lead, Mine to orchestrate, Mine to ‘ruin’? Don’t you know that you are all I want – not all of this ‘important’ stuff you do for Me? Don’t you know that all I want is for you to want Me, be near to Me, love Me? You are not a means to My end of getting fruitful ministry out of you! Stop trying to prove yourself – to Me or to others. Yes, I saw how busy you were ‘for Me.’ I saw how responsible a worker you were. I saw all of the ‘important’ ministry that filled your every waking moment. And: guess what? I don’t care. I don’t care about any of that. In fact, I care way too much for you to let you keep striving, contriving, finding your identity in all that. That’s why I let it get buried.

You used to do stuff for Me for fear that I’d be displeased if you didn’t. You used to do stuff for Me because you felt guilty when you didn’t. You used to do stuff for Me out of pride in your heavenly resume.

No more! Go and be, my dear. Walk in the footsteps of My Spirit knowing that you can trust Me to lead your life. Know that I see all that is invisible. Know that who you are becoming as a result of suffering, invisibility, anonymity, obscurity is more important, more precious, more valuable to Me than this upside-down world can even imagine. Know that My mouth drops open at a very different kind of ministry than that which dazzles the world. You are Mine and I am yours. That is what matters to Me most.

Lord, if you have to fire me to keep me from being just a hireling, do it. Make me only, ever a lover of God.