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.