Having a conversation with God, my Father.
Do you ever feel as though this is difficult? It can be more than challenging to talk to someone whom you can not physically see or hear. It can make you feel as though you are a bit out of touch. Sometimes it can be hard to see the answers we are given. Sometimes it can be hard to accept the answers that are given.
I pray a lot. I pray about little things. "God, what in the world have I done with my keys (purse, book, phone, pen, etc.) THIS time??"
I pray about big, desperate things. "God, please heal Miles!" "God please save my friend!" "Oh God, please help my other friend see you as the loving Father her heart is crying for!"
My prayers are always answered. Some prayers are answered immediately in the way I want them to be answered. Miles is well. Some prayers are answered immediately, even though the answer is not what I was hoping for. Meaghan died; she is with Jesus in heaven but we miss her dreadfully. It is a mixed blessing. I am still waiting on some of my prayers. My one friend is still not a Christian. My other friend is still struggling to understand God as the loving Father she yearns for.
Over this past weekend I had the opportunity to extend kindness to two different folks when I was at the grocery store. I had an overwhelming sense of God wanting me to reach out to each one. For one, I felt a strong need to pray. Out loud. With her. It was a short prayer, but it was prayed "In Jesus' Name". Right there. In public. The other needed the cart that I was taking back to the store. I told the Gentleman that it was a gift from Jesus (I shop at Aldi's where carts cost a quarter). The man who received the cart took the time to speak with me about the precious name of Jesus. We had a good talk about faith and I left the conversation encouraged and strengthened in my own faith. As I got to my car, the other person came hobbling over with a huge smile on her face. The missing item we had prayed over had been found! She thanked me for praying. She acknowledged that she had found the missing item as a result of that prayer.
As I drove away I realized something ugly about myself. I was feeling rather smug and self-satisfied with how good and nice I had been. Wasn't I wonderful? I had boldly prayed for this woman! I had spoken the name of Jesus to this man! What a marvelous Christian I was being!!
I hate when I do that. That smugness and arrogance is one of the sins I most detest in myself. I stopped and prayed, and asked God to take that away from me. Then I drove on and finished my day.
How would you expect that prayer to be answered? I figured I was in for a healthy dose of humiliation, or what my Mother refers to as, "Comeuppance" (look it up; it's a real word).
Sunday morning I was sitting in worship at our little church. I have started helping lead the music and that is a point of great insecurity for me. I worry that my singing is off-key, or just not very good. I feel awkward and uncomfortable in front of people. As our dear Pastor Daniel began preaching from Romans 8:26-30, he reminded us how the Spirit intercedes for us. He made the statement that "it is God's will that the Spirit intercede." Think about that for a minute. The all-powerful GOD has not just desired but willed that the Spirit intercede for me! I was overwhelmed with a deeper understanding of God being my Father. Then, instead of humiliation and comeuppance, I felt a great sense of His gentle love for ME. I may feel awkward when I am helping with the music, but my Father is pleased with it. No matter what anyone else thinks. I may grieve over my smugness about doing something "nice" for those two folks at the grocery store, but my Father received that as service that honored and glorified HIM. I was reminded again in the sacrament of communion of my Father's great love for me. At the end of the service after singing our last hymn, Pastor Daniel pronounced the benediction. Instead of using the one he normally uses, he used that great benediction from the book of Hebrews:
Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead
our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep,
through the blood of the everlasting covenant,
make you perfect in every good work to do His will,
working in you that which is well-pleasing in His sight,
through Jesus Christ;
to whom be glory forever and ever.
That is the benediction my earthly father used most often when I was growing up. Those are special words to me; they always remind me of my earthly father's great love for me. The father who taught me that as much as he loved me, our heavenly Father loves me far more. Those words remind me that I am a beloved daughter.
So my prayer of Saturday was answered rather quickly. It was not answered by me humiliating myself through my stumbling clumsiness, or screeching off-key, or fainting in the middle of a song, or having someone confront me in my sin.
My prayer was answered by a tender, loving, gracious Father who chose to remind me in several ways that He is, and always will be, my Father who loves me.
May His tenderness, His love, and His peace fill your hearts and home this week.
By the way, there was a LOT more to Pastor Daniel's sermon. You may hear it in its entirety here.