Do you have access?

  I arrived at work, entered the lobby and realized I’d left my badge at home. The badge grants me access. It’s a sign of relationship. Only people with established relationship enter: employees, new hire candidates, vendors, contractors.

No badge. No entry.

Controlled access is a standard security measure. We routinely swipe badges or cards to enter buildings, swipe again to enter elevators.

We respect controlled access at work. But when it comes to God, some people seem to think anyone can march into the presence of a holy God and get their prayers answered.

At least that’s the impression I got from a young Brit on Facebook. He posted a discussion about the existence of God and invited opinions. It turned out to be an excuse for a diatribe against God.

I replied that I believe God “is” and that He can be known. He promptly replied: “bullsh*t!” And he didn’t use an asterisk.

In the ensuing conversation, he accused me of being brain-washed, compared belief in God to a brain virus and offered so-called proof that God is a myth: he had prayed and God had not answered. “You might as well be talking to a vase.”

I get it. He knocked at God’s door and believes God ignored him. Access denied. I think he wanted, still wants, to believe. He is hurt, angry, disappointed.

I say here what that wounded soul wasn’t willing to hear. Just because somebody prays doesn’t obligate God to answer. There is no access without relationship. And God knows our hearts, whether we want a relationship or we just want what we want.

Relationship starts with belief. Those who come to God must believe that He is, and that He rewards those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6) Scripture says of Christ, “through Him you believe in God” (1 Peter 1:21)

God loves the world, and He has established the way the world gets access to Him. Jesus is the Way. (John 14:6)

God has protocol. In Old Testament times, one guy, a priest, could enter into the Holy of Holies one time a year to offer sacrifices for sin, his and the people’s.

One guy, one day a year. (Exodus 30:10; Leviticus 16)

If that guy didn’t come into God’s presence in the prescribed manner, he dropped dead and had to be pulled out. God didn’t allow anyone to come get him. That, beloved, is controlled access.

In New Testament times, Paul writes in the book of Hebrews:

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

Who is “us”? The letter to the Hebrews is addressed to brethren, to partakers of Christ, to those to whom the gospel was preached and they believed. Paul is writing to members of the family of God.

To have access, we have to have relationship.

Lots of people pray who have no relationship with God.  I would not say that God doesn’t respond.

Acts 10 tells of Cornelius, a devout man who feared God, gave to the poor, fasted and prayed. He certainly seems to be seeking God. And God noticed. One day, while Cornelius prayed, an angel appeared and told Cornelius to send for a man who would tell him what he should do.

That man was Peter, who preached the gospel of Christ to Cornelius “that through His name whosoever believeth in Him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)

God works on the basis of relationship. To get to Him, we must come through Jesus. He alone restores access.

Who are you gonna call?

Want to know how much you really rely on God? Here’s an easy way to find out: Where do you turn when something goes really wrong or when you’re facing something that you’d rather avoid?

Let’s say you’ve got a situation:

  1. A truly horrible boss who’s about to send you on a boondoggle to Canada for a meeting you could do virtually. Meanwhile, your real work is piling up on a project that already is overdue.
  2. An unemployed spouse who finally has a job offer… in another state. You’re more than grateful he has a real job prospect, but your support system – your lifeline – is where you currently live.
  3. Young adult children who are making unbelievably bad choices and simply are not open to advice, but they are happy to accept cash.

Could be your situation is much less dramatic:

Hey, it’s Sunday night and you are less than thrilled to be facing another Monday morning trek to a tiny cubicle where you work for a complete jerk.

Where do you go with all that angst?

  • Shopping?
  •  Phone a friend?
  •  Make an appointment with your therapist?
  •  Get a massage?
  •  Go out and get drunk?
  •  Get laid?
  •  Go into a shell and quit communicating with the people closest to you?
  •  Have just a little bit of some substance – legal or not – to get you over the hump?

Or do you get on your knees or take a long drive or take a walk in the woods — or however you choose to get alone with God – and pour out your heart to Him?

When we have burdens, troubles, things that turn our world inside out, Jesus says: “Come to me…”

Our tendency is to go everywhere else and — when all other roads become dead-ends, as they invariably do – we come to Him as a last resort.

God wants to be our initial point of contact, the very first place we bring our stuff and unload. He wants us to turn to Him and to tell Him what we are facing and to ask for some help, some guidance. No matter how terrible things may seem, God’s plan for us is that we never throw up our hands and give up. We are to keep the faith and entrust our cares to Him: “Man ought always pray and not to faint.”

Coming to Christ in prayer is our safety valve in a pressure-cooker world. It won’t make all our problems go away, but it will give us the peace and the grace to endure. And some things, beloved, just have to be endured.

“Indeed we count them blessed who endure.” James 5:11 (NKJV)

So next time you’ve got a situation, who are you gonna call? Where are you gonna go? The songwriter said, “Where Could I Go But To The Lord.”