and ramblings on everything in between
Do your prayers typically go something like this, “Please keep me safe, please give me more than enough, please make me comfortable and happy,” just with a few more words? Mine certainly do. Crazy Love by Francis Chan points out that we are often obsessed with being safe. We tell people to be safe as we send them out the door and onto the roads. We pray for safety for our children as they go about their day in the world. We balance tasks and adventures on how safely we can complete them.
We like believing that everything will be alright.
My bible study group just finished a fantastic study on the Book of Daniel (Pursuing Integrity by John Ortberg if you’re looking for a study topic). We talked a lot about how we seek comfort over service in life. Our instinct is to stay away from the tough challenges, such as the furnace that Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendigo were thrown into because they wouldn’t deny God. So often, our prayers revolve around staying out of the furnace, and we are oblivious to the fact that “sometimes God delivers people in the furnace.” (Pursuing Integrity)
Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendigo didn’t know what would happen to them once they entered the flames, but they trusted in whatever the Lord would do. And the Lord showed up to save them from a fiery death instead of letting them perish. He walked with them through probably one – if not the – toughest moment of their life, opening others’ eyes to His power and splendor. They were willing to stare fear in the face and step forward in obedience because they knew it would bring glory to God, no matter the outcome.
At the end of that discussion, there was another type of tough challenge for us to face:
“Make a decision to stop asking for less heat and flames in your life. Don’t ask for an easier, richer, more pleasant, or more secure life. Instead, tell Jesus you want to go with Him wherever He goes. Commit to walking with him as he leads…even if this means stepping into the furnace.”
I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t pray for a furnace-situation in my life. It was too big of a prayer, and I knew it would be empty words because I didn’t mean it. My eyes were open to how small my faith is. I want the God that keeps my family healthy and steers my thoughts to goodness and keeps a roof over my head. I want the comfortable God. I want to glorify God in all the good situations in my life and for that to be enough.
If I truly believed that this life is about making His love known to everyone I meet, then I wouldn’t care the avenue I had to take to do it. All could be lost and forsaken with gladness in order to achieve that mission. Yet, this has halted my steps and caused me to worry that God will throw me into the furnace in order to bring me to my knees.
And that makes me desperately wish I could form the words with my mouth and convince Him that I’m truly open to it in order to relieve any desire He might have to send me through it just to prove a point.
Clearly I have a long way to go.