Thursday, June 4, 2015

It's been forever

Dear Readers, (who I'm pretty sure are non-existent at this point)
My deepest apologies.
I have neglected my duty as a writer.
(Insert my chuckling here because we all know that, well, I was 1. never consistent in the first place & 2. it would be a long shot to consider my pointless ramblings on here actual writing. But my apologies are sincere to say the least.)

Every time I sit down to jot (type) my latest escapades and thoughts, I sigh and twiddle around for awhile because there are often so many ideas pinballing around my brain, my fingers never know where to start.
Like now.
Do I start with our delightful spring break, or my delight that summer has finally arrived?
Do I tell you first about all the opportunities God has blessed me with or about the things He has been teaching me?
Do I tell you about the valley of struggle or the wearying walk that fighting for righteousness has been?
There are so many things I could say, and I wish I could write all of them down.
Not often all big, exhilarating, things, but mostly small things. The learning things.

Like prayer.

It's underestimated to say the least. It's often a last resort or a recitation before meal time.
I'm not saying this out of judgement to others, I'm saying it out of conviction in my own life.

In my life, I have everything I "need." I have a wonderful (not perfect, but wonderful) family, I'm relatively healthy and have the ability to seek medical attention when necessary. I'm educated, and have always been free and able to learn more. I have a supportive church and great friends.Good Bible times are a pretty frequent occurrence. Oh, I pray. I pray in the morning, and at night. I pray at church. I pray at bible study and before meals.

So, what's wrong with that? You say.
Seems like you've got it. Fellowship, ministry, family, joy...what's the big deal?

And I'll agree with you on one point. None of the aforementioned things are wrong.
But something is wrong.
I'm comfortable. And I'm relatively satisfied. 

*Insert red flags and warning bells and danger signs and stop signs and traffic lights and a "bridge is out" sign and a "road closed" sign and bright orange construction signs*

Imagine yourself as Christian from Pilgrim's Progress. If you befriended a man named Comfort and his companion named Satisfaction, how long do you think you would continue on your treacherous quest? How long would it take you to abandon your clear purpose and be guided into the confusing cloud of sweet tasting false hope.
Comfort and Satisfaction have mist like effect, not necessarily blinding you or taking you completely off-course, but deceiving you to think that what they have is the best there is.
Enough of Christ's light gets into you life to make you think you're in the right place, when really, you're only getting fragments and fractions of what is truly available because the world and its desires block most of Christ's illustrious promises. Our eyes are so stupidly attracted to what is right in front of us and so quickly forget that what lies ahead, no matter the struggle it takes to get there, will be far greater than whatever traps and treasures this world has to offer.

What does this have to do with prayer? You say.
Everything. It has everything to do with prayer.

Again, I'm going to ask you to use your imagination.
Imagine you're in a relationship. You really think he/she is the one you want to grow old with. You love this person whole-heartedly, and they love you back. Would you neglect the love letters your admirer was sending to you? Would you look at the envelope appreciatively and then throw it into a basket where all the other unopened letters lie?  Would you ignore their phone calls and messages? Would you never mention the love you have for this person to another?  Would you ignore chances to serve and help this person?

Of course not! That would be ridiculous. Silly.

You would jump at a chance to serve the one you loved. You would re-read the letters until they were practically memorized. You would scramble to the phone when he/she called and you would chat. You would share things. You would talk them up to every person you would see, about his/her kindess and love, about the times spent get the picture.

We are called to be in a relationship with Christ. Not a religionship where Christ is merely a painting on the wall but lives in a different galaxy and doesn't care about what the creature on earth do, but a relationship where He continually pours out His steadfast love to a people He has claimed as His own.
A relationship with the God who created not only our world (which is finite, in case you were wondering) but also the entire universe. God has the heavens as His canvas and He has painted so many beautiful things in it.
And we are called by Him. Literally beckoned to abide in His love. We are called to serve Him. We are called to be the Bride of Christ. To prepare ourselves for when He returns and calls us to the wedding feast.

And here I am. Comfortable. Coasting. Only calling to Him when I don't think I can handle it. (And, let's be real. I like to think I can handle my life.)
Only learning the things about Him that are basically spoon-fed to me.
Half-heartedly serving Him, and backing out when speaking words of truth would mean a drop in my "hard-earned" social status. 

How sad. It's crushing. It's disgusting.
There are Christians out there imprisoned for their radical faith and who remain true, even to the death.
And I am worried about speaking the gospel to a wandering human soul, a friend, because I don't want them to like me less.
Where is that strong faith? Where is that sustenance? Where is that heart connection that vibrates and shines through some people? Where is that holy boldness that counts Christ as the only true source of satisfaction?

James 4 whispers in my ears.

"You have not because you ask not"

"You ask and you do not receive because you ask to spend on your adulterous passions"

"Friendship with the world is enmity with God"

The pain in my soul is anguishing at this. How could God still love me after being so foolish? I have traded the sweet peace and love He has to offer because I've let the world seep in.

"But He gives more grace"

What? More grace?

"His mercies are new every morning" (Lamentations 3)

"You have not because you ask not"

How should I ask? What should I ask?
Back to James 1, ask in faith. Ask for wisdom.
We are promised a Helper, the very Spirit of God to indwell us.
Will God not be faithful to keep His promises?
We might not have instant gratification, but how are you to receive a deeper knowledge of Christ, a more passionate desire for Him, opportunities for boldness, if you are not asking for it!?
And as He is growing me, I see this reality more and more. I've called out to Him for doors to be opened and for boldness to step through them. He's answered me. I've pleaded silently in my head for words of life to speak to a doubting friend, and He answered me. I've asked for other things, and I'm still waiting. My temper has not dissipated overnight. The brick wall of my arrogant pride didn't come crumbling down the moment I asked for humility. But this is the fight. This is the daily life that we are to be depending on God's strength to live. The tears after I've blown it, only to find relief in forgiveness and grace to keep going. The strength and comfort knowing that if I call out, He is there and He is faithful. Cast all your cares on Him, like it says in 1 Peter.

Well, why doesn't He always answer? You say,
Why is there still so much hurt and so many hypocrites?
God knows what we need, why not just give it to us? That's selfish. 

And to be honest. I don't know. Maybe it's because God is jealous. Righteously jealous. Our cry for His strength is an open acknowledgement of our weakness. Maybe it's because God is sovereign. Our dependance on Him in suffering is often times the greatest glorification of our utter dependance on His perfect strength.
He tell us that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us. How miraculous is that? How tender and sweet. Like a perfect Father.
How are we to draw near to Him if we are not asking for the Spirit to help us in fighting the every day temptations of life?

How are we to ask if we are not praying? 


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