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Confession: I was a Realist

I confess. I used to be a realist.

I’m starting to think that was a sin.

See, I used to pray prayers like this: “God, please heal that marriage. But when it fails, Father, please help them not to give up on you.” Or like this: “God, please bring full healing to my friend. But when she dies, please comfort her family.”

I might mention the miracle in my prayer; I might acknowledge that God had that power. But I didn’t really expect Him to use it. I expected the logical, the probable outcome. I didn’t pray with any boldness. I prayed by giving God an out. That way if it wasn’t His will to work the miracle, I was safe. God still answered my prayers. Life was less confusing that way. God was easier to manage, to understand. He fit in my brain, in my realm of logic.

Of course. Of course I need to believe in a God who does miracles now. Of course. One might argue I am shifting my perception based on my needs. I can’t say that you are wrong about that.

But this verse convicts me. This passage cuts me to the core, separating joint and marrow. These words stops me dead in my tracks. And I only noticed it recently:

II Timothy 3. “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive…(a whole bunch of other bad things) having a form of godliness but denying its power.”

Think I’ll say that again: “Having a form of godliness but denying its power.” That’s listed in with a whole bunch of other “bad” sins.

I don’t want to do that anymore.

I shudder. I shudder to think of how I mentally denied God His due power for so many years. So that I could understand. So that I could avoid disappointment when His will was different. What if I’d had the faith to ask for more? To ask for bigger.

“You do not have, because you do not ask God.” ( James 4)

And then someone introduced me to this verse. I think maybe I’ve mentioned it before. Jesus says in John: “Very truly, I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (Jn 14:12) What? Greater than healing the lame, the blind, the demon-possessed? Greater than raising from the dead?  

I tend to let the “scope of defeat”, the odds, determine how I pray. If it is a mild illness, oh then I will pray “bold” prayers for full healing. If it is an early marriage problem being handled as soon as the slightest hint of trouble arises, I ask for full reconciliation. Denying the power of Godliness? 

I remember early on in my illness, when we faced test after test to try and get a full picture of just exactly what and where this cancer was, in other words, just how hopeless it was, “the scope of defeat;” my father said something profound to me. Forgive me if I’ve shared before:

“All we are doing right now is sizing up the enemy. We are getting a picture of how big he is. But no matter what is found, it doesn’t hold a candle to the limitless power of God that He can unleash if He chooses to do so.”

He went on to explain it this way:

“It is like tug of war. You are on one side pulling. All you can see is the vast empty pit in front of you, and you see the size of the enemy on the other side pulling you toward it. What you cannot see with these human eyes, but what you must fight to see with your spiritual eyes, is the enormous God and all His heavenly hosts who are behind you, just over your shoulder, pulling with you. If you could see them, oh there would be no reason to fear at all! You would see you’ve got this sewn up. It’s not even a contest.”

I like the way Beth Moore puts it in “Jesus the One and Only”:

“Even in our churches, many are learning more about the power of the devil than the omnipotence of the living God! Many do not understand that surrounding dynamics (circumstances, odds) like the length and depth of defeat have absolutely no bearing on Christ’s ability to perform a miracle. No bearing.”

God kinda gets on Moses’s case for doubting the scope of His power. In Numbers, we are told about how the Jews were whining about having no meat. God says He’s gonna give ’em some. In fact, he’s gonna give ’em so much it’s gonna make them sick. Moses says, paraphrasing, “What? How on earth are you going to do that? I’m down here with 600,000 men, and even if you caught every fish in the sea, that wouldn’t be enough. Even if we slaughtered every single animal we have that wouldn’t be enough. ”

The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short?”

These are my new constant words to God, my meditation: Is your arm too short? They remind me. They remind me that God EXCELLS in the hopeless realm. That’s His favorite place and time to work, it would seem. That I have no business deciding what “realistic”, what He can and can’t do.

So, I confess. I was a realist. But now I live in HOPE. From I Corinthians 13: “Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.” We always skip ahead to that last sentence, don’t we? But hope, HOPE is in there with the BIG 3. 

 I am called to have hope and I am called NOT to deny the power of Godliness.

I don’t want to be a realist anymore.

Sara Walker 

 

 

 

 





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19 Responses to “Confession: I was a Realist”

  1. diannekinzer May 17, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    Yup, needed that. Thanks.

  2. Rhonda Turner May 10, 2012 at 2:56 pm #

    Sara,

    LOVED the words from your Dad about the tug of war! I didn’t have a father raise me up; you are very blessed. I’ve copied that to help me be bolder.

    I too have prayed like you mentioned; knowing that God could do it, but not really thinking he would or if it would be his will (i.e, praying for him to save our country; but knowing we don’t deserve it; therefore I’m not really sure he will). I don’t know what God’s will is. You put it in so much better words than I can; just know that you are not ALONE in that thinking…thanks for waking me up! BTW in your case, I was bolder in my prayers 🙂

    I hope you are feeling a little more energized.

    Rhonda

  3. Elsa May 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm #

    I do that! And then the Spirit tells me “what are you saying?” And I correct myself, but I didn’t know how to change–renew–my mind permanently. He was telling me “is the Lord’s arm too short?” Thank you for your teaching.

  4. Sandy May 10, 2012 at 7:35 am #

    Beautifully said Sara. You have given me a beautiful thought to ponder in my heart on this gorgeous day that God has blessed us with. Boldly praying for you and your family. Also, remembering to not be a realist. Thank you for writing these words of wisdom and reminding us that there is nothing too big or too small to ask of our Mighty God! Like the song I remember your Dad leading in VBS. Our God is so Big, so Strong and so Mighty, there’s nothing our God cannot Do!! I love you sweet Sara!

  5. connie leach May 9, 2012 at 9:57 pm #

    At the end of April, we moved from Nashville to a small town and so left our church that we’ve attended for 27 years. It was my family, my rock, my homebase. Tonight after reading your post, I thought how, right now, you’re my church. Tonight, you’re the place where I’ve heard a message of wisdom and faith. Of course, we’ve just started looking for a new church home, but for right now, I just wanted to thank you for being a voice for what is true, a sister in The Church where we’re all connected in His Hands.

  6. Susan May 9, 2012 at 9:33 pm #

    I have always kept God in a box that was way too small for Him. How many times have I sung the verse, “He can move the mountains” not really believing or thinking he ever would really move the mountains. And maybe some don’t think the song is actually talking about moving created, rock mountains but the thing is – he could not only move them but so much more. He flooded the Earth, had a fish swallow a man and spit him back out alive, took someone up to Heaven in a fiery chariot, brought His son out of the grave…let’s face it, we aren’t dealing with a realistic God. He can do so much more than I can imagine and until I stop putting limits on Him, Satan wins.
    I too pray where I give him a way out. Kind of thinking, “that way, when it doesn’t happen, I will know that it is His will and I suggested it to Him anyway during my prayer plus I had doubts to being with so now I can accept it better”. When all along He could see I never trusted, believed or thought he could and would do it so why in the world would he? Why did Sarah laugh in the OT? So she is old and assumes she will never get pregnant. Did she forget that nothing is too hard for the Him?
    I always struggle with this in prayer because it is hard to balance 110% belief that He can and will with knowing His plans are not my plans.
    A lot to think about. I needed this. Thank you for being you.

  7. Molly Zirkle May 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    Thank you for encouraging us and challenging us to pray boldly.

  8. Cheryl May 9, 2012 at 7:53 pm #

    “In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalms 5:3

    This verse reminds me to wait in expectation!!! as I pray for my son who is now 23 years old and not yet a Christian… How I need the reminder to expect!!! especially when I am discouraged.

    I wanted to share this verse with you, Sara, and hope it will give you encouragement, too. I know you have many prayer needs but I am hoping that you might take a moment and also pray for my son…

    Praying…

  9. Michael Pigg May 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Sara – I think that watching you go through the various trials you have faced has given me a similar learning experience with regard to how I pray. I literally beg for God to blow me away with his power, and I beg this every day now. As you said, we KNOW He can do it, so why don’t we ask?

    It’s funny you wrote this post today because a few minutes ago I read Psalm 27. The last section practically jumps off the page and hits me between the eyes. David might as well be saying HEY MICHAEL LISTEN UP. THIS ONE’S FOR YOU: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart AND WAIT FOR THE LORD.

    He’s coming Sara. In fact…He never left.

  10. Yolanda Pound May 9, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Sweet Sara,

    Wow, you nailed it today with this post. I am blown away by the rich wisdom and insight you have shared with your fellow prayers warriors! Each time I have the privilege to read one of your eloquent and heartfelt posts, I am richer spiritually. Sad to say that I, too, have been a realist. By God’s grace, no more. “He is able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think”. As always, continued prayers to the One who is able to answer!!!!

  11. Helen Lee May 9, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    Well said, Sarah. I have been a realist too and like you, I don’t want to be one.
    I will continue to pray for your healing and BOLDLY and wait in expectation of God’s answer.

  12. Annette M. May 9, 2012 at 1:58 pm #

    Sara, I have been guilty of the same way of praying. My prayers have changed/are changing but sometimes “earthly common sense” wants to get in the way. I have to take the thoughts captive. There is so much I don’t understand about healing but I’m still praying!

  13. Susan Chester May 9, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    Read this verse this morning and thought of you.

    Malachi 4:2

    “But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall.”

    Praying it over you! Blessings!!

  14. KM May 9, 2012 at 1:29 pm #

    Dear Sara,
    I’ve never met you, but I know some people who know you. I’ve come to your caringbridge/blog often over the last year, just to see a little glimpse of what God is up to in this world and how suffering is tied up with joy.
    Over the last few days and especially this morning, you have come to my thoughts. I have thought about what you have written, and what you hope for the future for your boys, for your husband, for your parents, for your friends, for your self and what I keep hearing is this verse from Ephesians. I am sure you know it well, ” Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.”
    I believe in this promise and believe that He is already doing through you even more than you know, even when you haven’t the strength to open your eyes or get up out of bed.
    I am convinced that anything you suffer will not be in vain. Somehow in His power, God will use your suffering to make something beautiful in the lives of others, just as He used the suffering of Jesus. Already, your suffering has helped others to love Jesus more, even me, a stranger.
    I know, you know all that; I guess I mostly just want to tell you, “Thank you,” and “Press on, Dear Sister; we are winning.”
    Just as Mother Teresa said, “Suffering is not of God, but God is at work in the delays, no less than the moment of release from sickness.”
    Sara, may you awake tomorrow with new strength and fresh joy, enduring every trial, all suffering, with hope.
    I pray for you every day.
    Kristen

  15. Angie May 9, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

    Sweet Sara,

    I consider myself a “realist” too. When I pray, it is with conviction and I know our God is all powerful and can work any miracle. What confuses me, guilts me even sometimes, is asking God to perform these miracles for me, to meet MY needs. Selfishly, I prayed for you to be here, to stay here, because deep down, after wanting you to be here for your family, that’s what “I” want. But I don’t want you to suffer here, knowing that in Heaven you will be free of this “enemy” that plagues you. In the fall, when you were suffering so, I changed my prayer, not necessarily to make myself prepared for an outcome that I don’t desire, but to pray for you, for my friend, and what’s best for her. I pray now for God to bless you and your family, and I continue to pray for that miracle I know He can perform, but most of all, I pray for my friend, for her not to suffer. I don’t think I am doubting God’s power by keeping in mind that His plan may not be my plan. I think I needed a reality check, and I think He has been patient in letting me figure this out on my own as parents often have to do with their children. I am thankful for every day you are here, I am thankful for so many seemingly small things, like the new floor cleaner I bought to help me clean that floor I used to hate to clean….

  16. Julie Burnette May 9, 2012 at 12:30 pm #

    As is most often the case, I sit here with tears if conviction in my eyes, Sara. Oh how often I have had teh same, exact convo with God. I just don’t even have anything to say. The truth gets in your face, and you either take and use it, or directly deny it, and thus, deny God. I am with you, I PRAY I will not be a realist!!!

  17. Larry Skelton May 9, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    Perhaps many of us have been as you have described Sara. You have said so well and thank you for that. I remember saying in a Bible class one time that I believed that God put the laws of nature in motion from the beginning and that I did not think that it mattered if I prayed that my family be spared from a possible tornado coming our way. How dumb is that? The Lord has allowed me to live long enough now, and given me enough time in His Word to have a much stronger faith. Twice in my life He saved me from probable death due to accidents, once from drowning, and once from bleeding out in an auto accident. I thank Him for that, and for only one reason. With the extra time He has given me,I have grown stronger in my faith and I love and appreciate more Him more and what He offers all of us who choose to believe on Him. Thank you Father for blessing us with Sara Walker, and now we ask that You bless her with complete healing. In the Name of Jesus.

  18. Rita May 9, 2012 at 12:20 pm #

    Sara,

    Thank you for helping me in my faith. Thank you, Thank you! Covering you in prayer. God bless.

  19. Donna Payne May 9, 2012 at 12:10 pm #

    Sara, Your dad is a very wise but hurting father. In Bible class on Sundays when he asks for prayer requests, someone always mentions your name. You are heavy on our hearts and in our prayers. Sunday he asked expecially for prayers for your mom during this time and someone spoke from the back and said, “And her husband” (meaning him). A very emotional time and so we prayed for all of you with tears in our eyes beseeching got on all your families’ behalf. God bless.

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