Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Redeeming the Mundane

I talked to an old friend yesterday. And as she shared long, drawn out, incredible answers to prayer in her life over the past many months.

She mentioned it here and there, in passing, and yesterday we were able to see God's provision. He works so many intricate pieces, people, circumstances, and timings we don't see in the midst of our situation. But looking back, we marvel at how he sent one person after another, moved one circumstance, ended and began others. 

As she spoke, the thought came, "Had I prayed? Did I love and care for her enough?" Just as quickly, I thought of raising and lowering our bedroom blinds. That is/has been my prayer time for her. Perhaps it's the result of reading, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, but prayer for others is more tied to events than time. The repetitive actions of life are tied to prayer for specific people. In this way, it's possible to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). 

It doesn't happen all at once, but a coffee mug represents one person. Walking to and from the mailbox brings prayer and praise for another. Mowing the yard brings thoughts of many, back and forth. And so it goes, the mundane becomes a sanctuary, a hallowed place. It is not simply a task to be done, but a vehicle for prayer, a place of love, sacrificial giving, and connecting with God Himself.

Having a time and place set aside for prayer is an important routine in the Christian life, but living a life of prayer is to draw on His presence and power in the ordinary moments of life here on earth. It is unseen communion with the Holy One; with Life itself.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Wisdom and Growth

 A young woman in a difficult situation cried, "But I asked God for wisdom and He didn't answer me!" 

"Yes, He did. This is it. Now you know what not to do next time."

God's wisdom doesn't magically or immediately prevent hardship, trials, or discomfort. Instead, He desires to help us learn and grow through it. God shows Himself greater than the difficulty. He is with us through the difficulty. He allows difficulty to create dependence, humility, patience, steadfastness, and spiritual growth. The goal is not avoidance of difficulty--though that is often what we want. 

Asking God for wisdom does not negate or repel trouble. Asking God for wisdom and expecting it to dissipate is like the individual who ended up in the Emergency Room because he applied bear repellant--to himself--instead of the bear. We must use God's Word according to the instructions. And God says it's a life-long process of learning, growing, and depending. 

The question isn't, "Did I avoid trouble?" Instead, the questions are, "What did I learn?" "Was I dependent on God, myself or others?"  Did I worry and fret, seek to manipulate or coerce others into doing what I wanted, or did I pray and wait?

The word for "trouble" in James 1 is something we can't avoid--like Mr. Magoo we fall into the manhole of difficulty not necessarily because of sinful choices, just because. That's normal. It's how we grow. 

Consider it all joy, my brothers and sisters, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that person ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-8)

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Moving On

As an individual that builds deep relationships with people and walks through deep waters with them, it is tempting to think change and growth is a result of my efforts. 

That happened to Moses and the people of Israel. Their freedom, exodus, and survival were all tied in with Moses' life and efforts. He was used in personal, mighty, and incredible ways those 40 years. But he also made mistakes. 

Moses' most costly sin was to strike the rock when God commanded him to speak to it. Why would that make a difference? God sent the water. The people were cared for. But in that moment what the people saw was Moses strike the rock. And water was provided. If Moses had spoken to the rock, there would have been no evidence of Moses efforts--only God's provision. And that is how it must be with us. God is not glorified by my efforts. His glory does not change regardless of what I do or do not do. But how others see Him, how others interact with Him, can be clouded or misguided when/if I deceive others, giving the impression that I am the source of blessing, not God Himself.

It is so easy to do! Numbers 12:3 says, Now the man Moses was very humble, more than any person who was on the face of the earth.

At the end of their journey, we see Moses repentance. And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today; I am no longer able to go out and come in, and the Lord has told me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ 3 It is the Lord your God who is going to cross ahead of you; He Himself will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who is going to cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken. 4 And the Lord will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them. 5 The Lord will turn them over to you, and you will do to them in accordance with all the commandments which I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or in dread of them, for the Lord your God is the One who is going with you. He will not desert you or abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:2-5)

As he prepares to leave Israel, he reminds them of God's faithfulness, God's promises, and God's provision. He will not, cannot, continue. But he is not their safety. He is not the one who makes water come from the rock. He is not the one who sees and provides for their needs. God is. And God will continue His good work without Moses.

In the same way, I must be reminded that all good things come from the hand of God--including the good things that result from my involvement. As people move out of my sphere of influence, they never leave God's...and neither do I. I need Him every hour. every moment, day after day. He will not fail.