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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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Clarifying the Experiment

First, a note about the pictures I use on the posts here. Most of them have been taken by my ultra-talented friend Amy, who by the way has one of the best extraordinary life stories of anyone I know. She takes pictures of ordinary things but in a way that makes them look extraordinary. Some of them are windows, light fixtures, bathroom tiles, etc. I hope this emphasizes how there is extraordinary to be found in all the ordinary around us. Maybe that will be a new challenge to you now, as you look at the pictures – “What ordinary thing is that?”

I had lunch with a couple of good friends several days ago, only a few days after posting about my experiment. One of those friends shared with me that her first response to that post was very negative, and she disagreed with at least one or two of my points.

First of all, let me say this: I thanked God for the rest of the day that I have such a real friend who would tell me her honest reaction instead of talk about me and my “wrongness” to everyone else but me and never give me the chance to talk with her about it.  Thank you God, for REAL friends.

I told her I would LOVE it if she would have lovingly left a rebuttal comment, but then she explained the difficulty in doing that. No one wants to be the first one to disagreee with the poor cancer lady. I get that. I do.

But please, let me assure you of a couple of things:

I am just trying to figure out what this Christ-like, abundant living is all about and am certain I have more questions than answers. I do not think I’ve got it all down and am absolutely right on all things. Oh Lord, may it never be so!

I do not get offended by people who think differently. I love to hear it, because I love to be challenged to look at things from a different perspective. How else do you grow and learn? Again, it is important that it be spoken with respect and love. You can love me and hate my ideas. And it is possible to get that across in a comment.

I actually long for some good debate on this website. That’s why the comment functionality was so important for me. I want to glean from your wisdom. I truly, truly do.

But now, back to where I may have left a wrong impression.

I fear I gave some poor examples of how this Holy Spirit Agenda translates to every day life, and also my friend couldn’t figure out how to reconcile it with her supervisor-ordained job responsibilities, being a full-time working professional. I fear I may have left the impression that I equate following the Holy Spirit’s agenda to “slacking off,” “playing hooky,” “ignoring responsibilities.”

Oh, if you only knew how far from the truth this is for me. If anything, I am a little too unforgiving of people who do not take seriously the command to “let your yes be yes and your no be no.” Christians are to be people of their word! I am too unforgiving of people who do not take seriously these instructions: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” Colossians 3:23.

I believe Christian employees should be known as the hardest working, most dependable employees at their place of work. Yes, I have been out of work for over a year now, and so the examples I gave of following God’s leading were geared more toward the stay at home mom, but I absolutely believe you can work full-time or part-time and should still be able to follow the Holy Spirit’s agenda for your day. 

If you work outside the home, then I think He speaks that agenda a little more clearly, if anything. I get that your day is usually dictated to you by your superior. I would just suggest that you look at the interactions that will occur during your work day a little differently – look at them as a possible divine opportunity instead of just a job responsibility. Does that mean you engage in a spiritual conversation with each of those you come in contact? Well, of course not. But I believe there may be some way to reflect Christ in each encounter: through your warmth, through your good listening, through your attentiveness to detail, etc. I would encourage you to go back to my list of three: is the interaction for you? them? God? You just never know what God may be doing in each interaction you have. I absolutely believe that if you are doing your very best at work, as if you are doing the work for God, then you are doing exactly what God wants you to be doing with that time. 

Let me also say I would never mean to suggest that keeping a clean house is not important. We are to be good stewards of what we have and take care of what is entrusted to our care. Keeping a clean, orderly home is a gift of service to our families that helps there to be a good, welcoming connotation to the word “home” and that is important for our ideas of “home with God.” I believe there absolutely are times when God wants me to be home cleaning my house, serving.

I also want to say here and now that I did not mean to fire a shot in the fragile cease-fire held between the working mom and stay-at-home mom. I believe you can do either to the glory of God.

Let me say that again:  

I believe you can do either to the glory of God: either  work outside the home or stay-at-home.     
(
I wish more than anything we could all stop being so defensive about whichever position we are in and just love each other and support each other as mothers doing the best we can. Sigh…)

I hope this makes things a little more clear as to what I meant when I wrote about following God’s agenda for my day. Please understand, it is a challenge for me every single day. I know that I often still make the wrong choices and too stubbornly hold on to what I think should be done.

To conclude today: I would say let’s all remember that story about the Good Samaritan. That’s a tough one, isn’t it? We aren’t told why the priest and the Levite passed by the beaten man. Maybe they had “God-ordained” job responsibilities to get to? I don’t know. Like I said, that’s a hard one. So all I know to do is to ask God to help me make sure I don’t pass by the opportunities to serve when he wants me to stop and act. Maybe that’s a better prayer for the day: “God, don’t let me be the priest or the levite today. Open my eyes and give me the will to be the Samaritan.”

So for those I offended by my bad examples last time, I apologize. For those whose feathers were ruffled because maybe the Spirit inside you was convicting you to give up a little of your control over your day, I do not apologize. God, make us all uncomfortable until we start to get it right!

And please, lovingly disagree with me. I will love you even more if you do!

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What I am savoring today: REAL friends and loving Christian debate…
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Sara Walker




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