What if…

“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.

All day long I put my hope in You.”

Psalm 25:5

I’m going to ask you a question, but first I must set the stage. I love prayer. I love the way God communicates to us through prayer, I love how it unites us as brothers and sisters, and reminds us that He is in control. I love prayer, but I have one question.

What if  YOU were the answer to your prayers?

This question is mostly for me, as I’ve been assessing my prayer life, the things I’ve been asking God for and to do. Over the last few months I’ve been blasted with these huge issues- children being raised without fathers, girls getting sold/taken/forced into sex slavery, forced abortions, malnutrition- the list keeps going. As I’ve faced these issues, I’ve just built up this anger almost. “God, why is this happening?? Why isn’t anyone doing anything?? GOD, please DO SOMETHING!”

rustling

There was no booming voice. I didn’t see an angel or get struck to the ground, but He spoke, and it was clear as day. “Sam, you keep asking me to do all these things, but I want you to go. I want you to act. I want you to be part of this, to do this together with me. I’ve asked others before, but they continued with the same prayer you’re praying. Well, now’s the time. YOU go. Be an answer to your own prayer.”

What if, instead of asking, “God, would you please do something to stop this?”, we asked “God, what can I do to help?” Instead of looking at the big picture and getting overwhelmed at the thought of it, we just went to see one person. Instead of seeing the figures of 132 million orphans and saying “I can’t change that by myself”, you took on the call from countless Scriptures and said “I can take care of at least one. At least.”

God is looking for a partnership here, He’s looking for a daily relationship. He cares about the in’s and out’s of your day- every single detail. He is a good Father, He doesn’t favour any one of His children over the other, so why do we? It keeps hitting me that because of His grace I was born in the family I have, but so easily I could be the 12 year old in Togo who can’t afford her $10 school fees, and as a result gets sold by her parents into prostitution. It could have been me, but it’s not, so what am I going to do about it? I am a strong believer that we are blessed so that we can bless others, so let’s do this. Please excuse me if my posts start asking more of you, if they make you uncomfortable by asking you to look at uncomfortable things, but this is my heart. I’ve noticed such a shift in my focus since the day I landed here, and I’m letting that be a beautiful thing. I’m choosing to see change in a new light. Will you do that with me?

With Strength that is not my own, Sam

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Just stop

I want you to show love

not offer sacrifices.

I want you to know me

more than I want burnt offerings.

Hosea 6. 6

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never given a burnt offering. Aside from laying something down at the cross in Hidden Valley with Mark Parker, I’ve never left anything at the cross that hurt to give away. But everyday that I’m alive, I try to out do myself. To give more then yesterday. To pray longer, more directly, with more intention. I strive to serve more, to smile more, to encourage more. I try harder not to gossip, I think of things to give away, I constantly ask Jesus “What more can I do?” And I’ve got it all wrong. So wrong.

It’s not about what I can do.

It’s about what He has already done for me.

God speaks perfectly in Hosea. He wants our love. He wants to know us. He wants us to rest in Him. He wants us to take all our stress, all our worries, our frustrations, anxieties, burdens and forget them all. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in doing. Doing more to make people happy, doing more to earn our forgiveness, or to say thanks perhaps. We want to be better people, ones who love more, give more, pray more, as if the person we were before is unloveable, unbearable, and an utter disgrace.

Disgraceful or not, we are loved. We are sought after by a God who love us fiercely. And what does He want from us? To do more? To be better? Sure, but those things come in time, and through relationship. Above all else, He wants us to know Him. Not to make a list of “to do’s”, or a list of “things I need to work on” in order to make us feel like we’ll never be good enough. No. He just wants us to know Him.

Why is this so hard to accept?

Why do we constantly need to be trying to earn His love? Why can’t we just accept it for the gift that it is? It’s almost as if we think that by doing more or being “better”, it gets us closer to Him. But how would it? We’re only looking at ourselves, our character traits, our accomplishments, our habits. In the pursuit of doing and being better, we take our eyes off of Jesus and avoid the one thing He truly wants: intimacy with Him.

If I could encourage you to do anything right now, it’d be to stop. Stop trying to make yourself a better person. Stop trying to do more for others. Take some time out to think about your relationship with Jesus. What does it look like? How does He influence you? Does He influence you? Do you find safety, comfort and shelter in Him? Can you be satisfied with just being with Him, rather then constantly doing things for Him?

Don’t get me wrong- I am all for serving our King. But I know how easy it is to let service for Him get in the way of relationship with Him. And what’s the point of all the service, if I don’t know the One I’m serving?

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With Strength that is not my own, Sam

At the end of it all, I wanna be in your arms

Not everyone who calls out to me, “Lord! Lord! will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in Heaven will enter. *On judgement day many will say to me, “Lord! Lord! We prophesied IN YOUR NAME and cast out demons IN YOUR NAME and performed many miracles IN YOUR NAME.” But I will reply, ‘I NEVER KNEW YOU. Get away from me, you who break God’s law.”  

Matthew 7v12-23

It breaks my heart and instills this immense sense of urgency to KNOW God. Not to speak AT Him, or to do things primarily in His name, but to know HIM. To enlist His wisdom in hard situations, decisions and plans. To take His command to love seriously, and to wake up each day asking “What will you teach me today?” (even though sometimes the answers scare me)

Maybe it’s out of fear. Fear of hell? Maybe. Fear of all this “hard work” I’ve (kind of) been doing, going to waste. I mostly think it’s fear of a life without God. No God= no love. No God= no purpose. And seeing that God IS life, no God= no life. All my “good deeds” are pointless if I don’t KNOW Him. And what a beautiful picture that is.

We serve a God who wants you to know Him more than He wants your actions. Imagine going to those gates and instead of hearing Him say “You didn’t donate enough, you lied too much, and you didn’t serve others enough, you may not enter.” He says, “You lived a great life. You  improved the lives of many! You’re one of my most self-sacrificing creations, always loving and including others. You tied my name to it all, but I don’t remember ever hearing from you. I’ve wanted to know you completely for so long, but you never returned to me. I gave you any opportunity I could think of, but you ignored every one of them. I’m sorry to say it, but I don’t know you. And since whoever is not for me is against me, I’m pained to say there is another spot for you somewhere else.”

It sounds awful, it really does. But think of the opposite conversation He could have with you.. “You had a rough go down there! I could see that you were being attacked from all sides, and my most favourite part of our story is when you called on me for help. You didn’t know if I was real, but you asked for me, specifically, and did I ever take delight in helping you, my beloved. And from that moment, you invited me in, you wanted me there with you. Yes, you had your moments, you still struggled with some things, but you knew where your strength was coming from to get through it. And when you spoke to others about me, oh, I was so proud. You could confidently tell them about me, and you were so right, too! And how? Because you knew me. And although there were things you couldn’t understand about me, you still sang my name. And now, my most beloved Child, you may know me completely.”

That verse has always scared me, but for good reasons. To spend my entire life doing what I think are good things, only to walk up to Jesus and hear Him say “I don’t know you, get away from me.” For a long time it didn’t make sense. How could a good, loving God say that to His child? I guess it just puts it into perspective how much He desires a relationship with us above our good deeds.

 I guess we as humans are the same way, interestingly enough. I personally don’t know anyone who has a best friend that they never speak to. We can bump into someone that we used to know and catch up on old times, old memories, old..old..old. But if we don’t maintain those relationships, that’s all it stays.. old. God’s got a fresh new page for us just waiting to be devoured every single morning, but it’s up to us to turn the pages. The good thing about God though, is that even as forgetful and lazy and unmotivated as we get, He’s still there, totally ready to work with us. My cry to you is to turn the page today. Now. Don’t let yourself get to the gate, and have an ever loving God stare blankly at you saying “I never knew you”. Empty. Ah, makes me feel so empty.

With Strength that is not my own, Sam