When God Cramps Your Style

Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

Psalm 2:1-3 (ESV)

Has God ever cramped your style? By that, I mean – really – has He cramped your style?

I have often felt restricted by Jesus, limited by His call, teaching, and His values. When what comes naturally to me is no longer the plan, no longer the way to thrive within or without, I struggle.

Like you, I’ve spent decades of my life, along with others over the history of the Church, becoming different than what comes naturally to me. I’ve welcomed the transformation that comes with knowing Christ – not always with open arms, but I’ve welcomed it.

In my best moments, I’ve leaned into the hardship that comes with embracing that kind of change, walking that kind of spiritual incline, pursuing that kind of intimacy – an unveiled, raw closeness that puts me in touch with the beating heart of God.

But, in my worst moments, I’ll be honest – I hate it. It’s hard to be like Jesus when my spirit is crushed and my primal inclination to move away from holy lament and toward a boiling bitterness.

It’s hard to hang tight with my Lord when scathing anger and vengeance feels like my best response to another newsflash, or fear tells me that hiding is a better choice than leading.

I’d rather have made more money over my lifetime. I’d rather have the accolades and respect that seems to come to those who would rather have a full garage than a full heart. I’d rather have the comfortable and commendable life that it looks like others are having – even if they’re not.

Following Jesus can mean hard things at times, and I identify with verse 3 in Psalm 2 better than I would like to:

“…Let us burst their bonds apart and cast their cords from us.”

But even in my darkest moments – moments where I was sure I might lose my mind from the searing psychological pain that comes from trusting Jesus even when I want to just give up – I choose Him.

Following Jesus means I choose a style, a way of living that is alternative to the way I may have grown up reacting to the world. Following Jesus means I lay down my rights to an easy life as I pick up my cross to follow Him (Luke 9:23) no matter where He is leading. Following Jesus means my money is His, my plans are His, my gifts and strengths and skills and dreams are His.

Following Jesus means I’m willing to have my style cramped so I can taste the good life Jesus promised lay at the end of a life lived for His glory.

I may never have the home, bank account, ease, dream-fulfillment or steady comfort that I want in this life. But I will have Christ, alive and at work within me.

I’ll take it.

Today, though the world would throw off the seeming shackles of belief and trust in God, and cast off following Jesus’ way in order to react without boundaries to everything happening in the world today, I choose to let Jesus cramp my style for His glory.

I welcome the limitations. I accept the boundaries. I lift my hands and believe that it was for freedom that Christ set me free (Gal. 5:1), that His burden is light (Matt. 11:30), and that following His way is the path to the best life possible.

I’m praying for you as you follow Jesus into the future He has planned for us, for you, and for the part you have to play in our wider story.

May He cramp your style and mine, to His honor and everlasting fame,

Dan +


Join the email list here for weekly encouragements and resources for discipleship and spiritual formation.

[photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash]


Sheltering Mercy: Prayers Inspired by the Psalms

Sheltering Mercy, along with its companion volume, Endless Grace, helps us rediscover the rich treasures of the Psalms—through free-verse prayer renderings of their poems and hymns—as a guide to personal devotion and meditation.

The church has always used the Psalms as part of its prayer life, and they have inspired countless other prayers. This book contains 75 prayers drawn from Psalms 1-75, providing lyrical sketches of what authors Ryan Smith and Dan Wilt have seen, heard, and felt while sojourning in the Psalms. Each prayer is a response to the Psalms written in harmony with Scripture. These prayers help us quiet our hearts before God and welcome us into a safe place amid the storms of life.

This artful, poetic, and classic devotional book features compelling custom illustrations and foil-stamped hardcover binding, offering a fresh way to reflect on and pray the Psalms.