Saturday morning while walking the dog early, I was lamenting to the LORD in prayer that I don’t enjoy prayer, and I was thinking on why.
I don’t hear as clear and as often as I would like. It seems too often like a one-sided conversation. There are powerful times, but those are the exception not the rule. I want more of those “exceptions”. Why must it all feel like a constant exercise in disciplined necessity?
Is it my sins? I mean, I’m not in some crazy hidden dark sin. I wrestle with myself like everybody else, and I have a strong conscience, so the slightest malfunction makes me want to flog myself. Be at ease. I’m ok. Just hard on myself I guess.
If my sin limits God’s response to me in prayer, what power is the cross to / for me? Why doesn’t the LORD just take my sin away if that’s the case?
The Lord is kind to listen to such things, and I really believe he welcomes that kind of conversation with his children. The Lord gave nothing but love and a good Fatherly ear. I also sensed from the LORD that he had that stuff covered. Just peace, and no condemnation for asking those question. I was not asking in anger (anger assumes I had been mistreated, and since God never mistreats me or anyone of us, there is not a good reason to be angry at God), I was asking out of desire, curiosity, and frustration at my own stupidity.
So, I go about my Saturday…cleaning, repairing, normal Saturday maintenance things and then taking off the garbage. At the garbage facility there is an elderly man, Paul Edwards, who is always so kind and helpful. We talk it up every now and then, and I always sense this man knows the LORD, but we don’t talk about that.
Have you ever met folks and you can recognize the Holy Spirit in them? Yeah, it is like that.
Well I had an old grill that I needed help getting out of the back of my truck for metal recycling, and I asked Paul if he would help. He, of course was more than willing. After I put that grill away, Paul began to share with me stories of how he and his wife, who had passed after 46 years of marriage some years ago, used to sit with their church friends and study the Bible and how the Lord would give insight and joy and they would sometimes do that for hours. Then Paul said this, “I can tell you know the LORD, so I can talk about these things with you and you’ll understand. It won’t be strange.” We shared Jesus stories for about 20 minutes. I won’t tell you all he said, but we swapped testimonies of God’s goodness, mostly Paul sharing with me.
Paul shamelessly shares Jesus with folks dropping their garbage, and he always helps folks get their stuff out and chunk it. He doesn’t have to, but he loves God and loves people and wants them to know Jesus, so he serves them and helps them with their stinking garbage, and he does it with joy.
God’s ways. You have to love them.
You know what? God sent Paul to me to remind me that my questions are ok, and that he really cares for me. He sent a retired, widowed, garbage worker who walks with the LORD to remind me he’s listening, and he is good to me and working for my good.
In Paul’s recounting of times of enjoyment of the Lord, God reminded me that he is just good to me, and that my sin not in part but the whole is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.
How kind of God, and I’ll take it.
He’s at work in his people in our questioning, our wondering, our frustrations and our mess ups. He’s at work when we don’t see him, and he will respond to us, and he’ll do it in ways me may not expect, like at the garbage dump.
- Be encouraged that God knows we have questions, so it’s ok to tell them to the Lord. I pray out loud, and I tell him stuff like I normally converse. I make it my aim to dialogue.
- After sharing your stuff with the Lord, rest and know he will take care of you and answer you in due time. It may not be immediately, but he will answer.
- I know some debate this point, and its fair to do so. But I would say to be careful how you come to the Lord emotively.
I recognize the comfort with some to be angry with God, and I affirm their relationship with God and how they walk with Jesus. My reasoning for monitoring my own show of emotion to the Lord is due to anger being a secondary emotion that is a response to a wrong done to me, therefore, since God never does me wrong I don’t feel comfortable being angry at God.
The problem is not in God but in my perception of what is happening in me and to me. I would say one needs to wrestle with what the bible says about who we are in Christ, what God does for his people, and properly direct our righteous anger in the correct direction. You are going to have to wrestle with that for yourself, but do wrestle with it.
For me, it’s not appropriate to be angry at God. But there are things to be angry at, and I try to focus that in the right direction, and I always attempt to not give full vent to it, as the Proverbs say that is foolishness.
- Have looking eyes for God’s response. Don’t be in a rush. If I had been on my usual b-line, I may have brushed by Paul at the dump. But, I was honestly looking for the Lord to answer me at some point in the day, and that 20 minute conversation was gold, and ordained by God for me through a brother.
Think about providentially how all that had to come together. Had I not concluded it was time to get rid of that grill this particular day, I may not have needed to ask Paul for help, and may have simply put away other recycling, tossed the garbage, waved and took off. But the opportunity arose to recycle that old grill due to getting Christmas money to buy a new one. The weather was temperate to facilitate a comfortable conversation at the dump.
Could it be that God put all that in place, in past and present events, to address me on questions that came up on that particular day? Nah. Couldn’t be. Wait. Is there something in the Manual that reminds us that God works like that? Yeah, I think there is!
Kind of awesome.
- Keep looking. God answered more for me in Pastor Jim’s sermon yesterday morning. Our first Sunday on sabbatical we wanted to attend church and worship, because TRC is our covenant fellowship, our community in the kingdom of God, R and A were visiting from one of our hard places and we wanted to see them, and we didn’t have anywhere else to go, so we went to church to worship. Pastor Jim’s sermon was for me, and I’m sure many others, but the Lord’s continued answer for me. Could God have orchestrated that too? Yeah!!
I hope my little experience over the weekend lifts you up a bit, and I hope you see the Lord at work in your daily grinding out life. Be encouraged. God is at work even in the mundane, grinding or ordinariness.