Culminating in Prayer
January 25, 2023
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash
A Composite of Several Journal Entries from Several Years
Do not assume that all your troubles are a spiritual deficit in your life. They may, however, be a profound spiritual opportunity for asking deeper questions, exploring deeper waters, and seeking and knowing God more deeply.
" All this has come upon us,
though we have not forgotten you,
and we have not been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back,
nor have our steps departed from your way;
yet you have broken us in the place of jackals
and covered us with the shadow of death.
If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God discover this?
For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Yet for your sake we are killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered."
(Psalm 44:17-22 ESV)
" Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!"
(Psalm 44:26 ESV)
In such moments, the heart cries for redemption. Even the saved feel lost. The sad song of abandonment is on our lips. The woeful weight of hardship presses us down and we cry out for deliverance.
"Each of us may be sure that if God sends us on stony paths, He will provide us with strong shoes and He will not send us on any journey for which He will not equip us well." - Maclaren
There it is again, the reminder that we are getting stronger, better, and more resilient, even if we did not choose that path.
We would not, though, ever prefer, to be weak and fragile? We know at the end of each journey, what we wish we'd known from the start. We are not alone and the journey is worth the blisters and bumps.
We pray. We pray the same pray, at the core, in hardship and in ease.
"The prayer of the morning will determine the day." - Bonhoeffer
"O God, I need a Master. Chain me back into freedom; darken me back into light; stab me back into wholeness; quiet me back into singing; and erase me back into fullness. In Jesus' Name. Amen." - E. Stanley Jones, (Abundant Living)
As I said, this was "A Composite of Several Journal Entries from Several Years."
It had to be written to be remembered. It had to be rewritten to be shared.
And, it is still not over.
Lest I take pride in my accomplishment, today's scripture lesson sparked some stark reminders.
A Vote of No Confidence
"Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ." - Philippians 3:4-7
In some nations, governments can topple in a day through a vote of no-confidence by the majority of the members of that country’s parliament. So ought the reign of our flesh to topple through a no-confidence vote originating in our hearts.
It is with an argument from absurdity that we are convicted here. If anyone could have confidence in the flesh to save, it would be Paul. And Paul throws up his hands and proclaims that he has no such confidence.
Take your very best day, the very best day you could ever have and duplicate it for every day of your life. Reach your highest potential every moment of every hour. Do all that you can do in your own power. Resist every temptation you can resist in your own strength. Rectify every wrong you can correct from the past. Arrest your thoughts and submit them to the rigors of positive thinking. Miss no opportunities for kindness that you can see. Attend church every time the doors open. Pray so often that even your Christian friends question your sanity. Add it all together and more and you will not accumulate enough “points” to win a consolation prize according to God’s standards.
You just can’t impress God in the flesh and all your efforts to do so fall flat. In fact, whatever you do in your own strength is an offense to God and waste of effort to you. You can only please God through Jesus Christ.
First, it is necessary that His blood cover your sins. Then, you must have His righteousness imparted to you by grace through faith. Then, if your life is to count, if anything you do is to matter, it must be accomplished in and through His Spirit at work in you.
Give your flesh a vote of no-confidence and let Jesus Christ on the throne of your life once and for all.
All else is loss.
What pray does this evoke for you today?