God, I have not given up on you yet. I know you are still my provider. I know you will meet my needs; sometimes naturally, at other times, supernaturally. But while I wait, I also lament. Have you heard my cry?
- I have God; in spite of my faithlessness
- I was thanking God within my spirit and praying for others who are also facing challenges
- He was almost in tears. He doesn’t see how he can “live out” his passion. God, I leave that to you.
- God help me to stay hopeful.
- Why are some prayers answered and not others; why God, why?
- God surprise me today
God I do not hear from you. Is this what faith is all about; to believe still, in the face silence? Did the saints of old encounter this stone silence? I pray that I will not fail this test for I want to be counted as one your saints.
Give me wisdom, give me discernment; give me patience, but above all God give me Faith; “faith that endures when faith has failed” (McLaren, p.176).
*McLaren, B. (2011). Naked Spirituality: A Life with God in 12 Simple Words. New York. HarperCollins Publisher.
Earlier this week one of my students shared with me that she learned that a friend committed suicide. She was really hurt and at the same time very angry. She said that her friend had so much potential and now he is gone. She also felt that he didn’t work hard enough to survive and wondered why he did not reach out to her for help. In her heart, she felt God will truly punish the friend because, in her words, ‘he was young, he had a lot of potential and he didn’t fight hard enough to survive.’ I shared with her that God may be disappointed in her friend, but God would not punish the friend. That God, better than us, understood his pain. She seemed relieved and said “I just wished my friend was still with us.”
After that conversation, I began to reflect how each of us has a different perspective on God. What is your image of God? Or very simply, how do you see God?
As a child my God could do everything. He was omnipresent, omnipotent, all knowing, caring and intervened in people’s lives when they called upon him. Nevertheless, he was a God to be feared. He was the hell and damnation God. Although I knew I needed and wanted God, I was afraid of this God and feared too that I would be damned to hell.
Later in life, God became an all loving God; still Omni-everything and still the God who intervenes in the lives of those who seek him out. I don’t know about you, but my image of God is still evolving.
He’s definitely not the God of my youth or the God of my young adulthood; he sometimes seems to be the God of indifference, a God of distance, a God who rarely intervenes in the affairs of humankind. This is a God I cannot accept and I doubt is real. But like you, I’m still wrestling with who God is.
Mark Batterson in his book, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (2006) said that “how you think about God will determine who you become. You aren’t just the byproduct of “nature and nurture.” You are a byproduct of your God-picture. And that internal picture of God determines how you see everything else” (p.28).
Batterson goes on to say that “our biggest problems can be traced back to an inadequate understanding of who God is. Our problems seem really big because our God seems really small. In fact, we reduce God to the size of our biggest problem” (p.28). I don’t know about you, but I need a God that’s bigger than any problems. I need a God who not only can tackle my problems, but the world’s problems. Batterson continues and believes that God has no dimensional units and that our belief or thoughts of God will determine who we will become. Wow!
Wow is right. I need a God who is greater than all this world’s imagination; especially as it relates to who God is and what God can and will do. I need a God that is as big as this world; still has concerns and abiding love for me and not only showed loved for me on a CROSS centuries ago, but a God who daily reminds me of his love and protection.
I need that infinite God; the God of love and mystery and yes, a God that I or no one else can define or put in a box. I need a God that loves “even me.” I need a big God; the same God that told Isaiah, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’’….”As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). To learn more about God’s awesomeness read Job, chapters 38 through 41. That’s a big God and no, he is not in a box.
How do you see God? How big is your God? My image of God is evolving, but each day I love this God who refuses to be defined. I hope you too will envision a God that is unlimited and therefore undefinable and that my friend will make all the difference in your world.
Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God (Matthew 5:8 NIV).
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world” (Matthew 5:8, The Message).
Guess what, despite the circumstances of life, despite those who try to control us and to dictate how we should think, feel, live and respond to our world, and despite those days when our “faith is dry and prayer seems useless”* we are blessed.
How is that you say? We are blessed because our Savior Jesus, who understands the unpredictability of this world (see Mark 14:32-41), advocates for us daily. In this season of Lent, we are reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice. We are reminded that even when our minds and emotions are fragile, frayed or frustrated; when our faith is weak, when it is hard to believe in a God, much less see God; the Spirit prays for us (Roman 8:26-27).
It is all right to feel that your mind and emotions are fragile. It is all right not to feel that you have a “pure heart” because Jesus paid the price to help our doubts. I was reminded about the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe help me overcome my unbelief” (Mark 9:24)!
Jesus knows what it is like to be human; therefore, His grace fills the gaps in our faith. It overrides our shortcomings. God’s grace can’t be undone by an emotional outburst or doubt. So rejoice that God loves us enough to have given us the grace of Jesus Christ.
Let us pray: God, we thank you for loving us in our anger, in our doubts and providing us an avenue, through the Holy Spirit, to speak our needs to you when we cannot. Thanks for reminding us that we are in your care and yes, we will see you. Amen.
*Sacred Space, The Prayer Book 2012, p.91)
Do you ever struggle about your future; especially, as it relates to your call? Well, here’s a prayer that may help. Repeat several times out loud several days a week.
I will be optimistic about my future because I know God wants the best for me. I will be an optimist about my future because I choose to be. I have the power to create my future. I can choose how hard to work, where I will live and who will be a part of my future.
I can be assured of what my future holds because I have the gift of memory; the memory of how God blessed me in the past and the assurance that God is with me now and will be with me in the future.
So even though I am now weary, filled with tears, I know that in the morning I will sing the pilgrim song of joy (Psalm 126:4-6, The Message) as God brings rain to my drought-stricken life… to a future life filled with laughter and armloads of blessing.
While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from the house of Jarius, the synagogue ruler. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?’’ Ignoring what they said, Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Mark 5:35-36.
This scripture brought to my remembrance the struggle I had trying to define leadership. I wanted leadership to be more than just a word; I wanted and needed the word, leadership, to be an ongoing living and active statement. Then I realized that leadership is about faith; it is about not limiting your possibilities to the visible. It is about drowning out the noise and believing that there’s more to life than what meets the eyes. Then it came to me: “Leadership is unlimited when you believe in something bigger than yourself.”
What is your definition of Leadership?
Waiting for something better? How soon we forget the miracles of our past and yes, even the miracles of today. Today, I want to share with you a prayer that I shared with my faith community on August 1, 2009 and later published at Upward Edge (www.upwardedge.com). It’s time to share it again. I hope that this short prayer will bring to your remembrance your everyday miracles.
“So they said to him, “What sign are you going to give us then, so that we may see it and believe you? What work are you performing?” John 6:30
God help us not to forget the miracles we have witnessed in our life time. Don’t let today’s burdens make us forget your love for us and your willingness to share our yoke.
God help us not to forget the miracle:
Of having a place to call home
Of having that job to pay those long overdue bills
Or finding that special friend and the love of our life
God help us not to forget the miracle:
Of being parents—when we and others thought it was not possible
Or re-uniting with family and friends that we thought were long-lost
God help us not to forget the miracle:
Of having spiritual mentors and heroes who strengthened our faith
For witnessing the physical healing of family and friends; we thought would long be gone
Of holding the hands of a dear brother as he departed this world or to be in the presence of friends as they too left us.
God help us not to forget your peacefulness, your assurances and the promises you have laid on our hearts.
I pray that as we remember the miracles in our lives that we will use our “gift of living” to help others who have forgotten their miracles— to bring hope to the hopeless; to provide shelter for the homeless and like Jesus feed the thousands.
When we remember our miracles we, like Jesus, can speak boldly the words of Isaiah 61:1-3a:
“The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon (us)…; God has sent (us) to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…; to comfort all who mourn; 3 and provide for those who grieve…”
Will you share with us your miracles?