Our daughter Julie and her family live on a mountainside south of Mexico City, within twenty miles of the volcano Popocatepetl, often called Popo for short. In ancient times the Aztec Indians would make sacrifices near Popo to the volcano gods to appease them. They believed that they were under the control and influence of the gods, so they sought to influence and control the gods by various sacrifices.
Small shrines made in the shape of Popo have been found with crudely-carved human heads on top. The Aztecs would stoke a small fire under these shrines so that they would smoke like Popo. It was their effort to appease the gods and make the gods like them. That sounds silly, but we can do much the same thing today.
What’s a common response that we make when things go wrong? We often ask, presumably addressing the question to God Himself, “What did I do to deserve this?” When things go wrong we can easily believe that we’re being punished by God because He’s mad at us. When things are going reasonably well, we think that God must be pleased with us because He’s blessing us.
We aren’t called to live under the burden of trying to appease God and manipulate Him so that we can put Him into a good mood to get good things from Him. God is the good thing! We can choose to give up the burden of trying to be good enough to please God and accept the reality that He is pleased to reach out to us with His goodness!
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30)