Thursday, July 14, 2011

Another Thought on Unanswered Prayer

In June I wrote a post involving Steinbeck and my dad called "Unanswered" Prayer in which I shared that maybe, sometimes, when we feel like God isn't answering our prayers, it is because the answer involves so many people and/or situations that aren't yet in place in our lives that we might not even recognize His answer as from Him if He told us what we wanted to know. Last night we had a young man from our youth group over for dinner to talk with him and spend some time together and we got talking about the future. He has a tremendous heart for God's will in His life, but experiences the uncertainty of not knowing what that is (something we all, often, experience, I would imagine). Mary Ann shared a thought with him that I believe is another reason God may not always share with us the information about the future we are requesting (seemingly not answering our prayer). She reminded him of Abraham and Sarah and the mess that came out of God telling them their future . . . and then them trying to "help God out" and make that future happen (the birth of a baby to them being the situation I am talking about). We have the whole situation with Hagar and the two sons when there was only supposed to be one and all the problems today that spring back to that moment. So, maybe, sometimes God doesn't give us an answer to a request for His will or plan for the future because He knows that we'll try and "help" it happen instead of letting Him bring it about in His timing through our surrender to His leading . . . and rather than help, we'll just mess it up. Just a thought, and one I felt was a good one. Interestingly, it was this same Abraham who earlier in his life left his homeland at God's command and traveled, not knowing where he was going, until God said stop. He is a man who should have been familiar with God leading every moment and orchestrating the timing of everything. I wonder . . . how many times do we learn a lesson and then forget it or blow it off?

God bless you all, and thanks for sharing in my life and this little blog world. We have a truly mighty and wonderful God!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Shuttle Launch and the Wizard of Oz . . .

I must confess—I was caught off guard this morning with the emotion I felt while watching the shuttle Atlantis take off for the final Space Shuttle launch ever. I did not expect to feel such sadness, such a mix of emotions, and to have some tears trickle down my face. I don't know if it was the combined weight of remembering the first launch and having lived through the triumphs and the horror of the tragedies, or just plain ol' sentimentality. But, it was a moment in which I felt far more than I expected to.

Man is truly amazing. Who can watch that giant shuttle lift off, defy the bounds of gravity, and return safely and not realize that? If we are but a mere reflection of God, in whose image we are made, He must be so absolutely incredible and amazing that words can't begin to describe Him . . . and, of course, He is!

Watching the launch, I was struck, as the TV showed scenes of the launch center with its banks and banks of people and computers, at how many hundreds of people behind the scenes whose names will never be known by more than a handful of people made it possible for those few heroes in the cockpit to do what they do. It is not unlike the Kingdom of God work—there are the "few" with the visibility, the "few" with the name recognition or that an entire church prays for as they are in the mission field, etc., . . . and for each of them there are entire corps of people making it possible through prayer, financial support, keeping a home in order, being a friend or a support. These people each share the victory, though often there are only one or two sets of eyes recording their quiet service and support.

I was also struck, as I was hit by so many emotions, by how beautiful the human heart and mind are, when those parts made in God's image shine. It is truly amazing to feel such things as joy, pride, wistfulness, love, honor, sacrifice, courage, and more. How horrible it would be to not feel—to just go through life driven by primal urges and instincts. Man is truly amazing, and his myriad of emotions and possible things he can experience are amazing, but there is, of course, only one true way those can be good and the way they were intended—and that is harnessed to God with His Spirit inside of us.

Last night, after finding out about a month ago that one of the youth in our group hadn't seen The Wizard of Oz, we had a fun movie night at the church building, with the big 12' screen set up, watching it. A lady in our fellowship provided a soda, candy bar, and bag of popcorn for each of us, and it was a wonderful evening. When it was over we "grabbed some carpet" (my call to sit down on the floor in a casual circle and get in to some good God talk) and I shared some thoughts. Of course Baum wasn't writing a Christian analogy when he wrote the story, but there is an amazing (probably unintentional) message in it about how we are all looking for something and, if we aren't careful, we'll pursue it in things that appear to satisfy and be the source of our answer, but are really counterfeit masks when revealed . . . but sometimes it is too late.

Man is truly amazing, and his emotions and capacities are beautiful, but only when in relationship with His Creator. When we start looking for courage and identity (the lion), or wisdom (the scarecrow), or a heart and love (the tin man), or a home (a place of belonging and security, like Dorothy), apart from finding those things in and through God, we can step in to treacherous places with horrible costs. Just like Eve—if we doubt God's Word, trustworthiness, or love we can start to believe we can find pleasure (the tree was pleasing to the sight), provision for our needs (it was good for food), or wisdom (it was desirable to make one wise) apart from God and His Word and His wisdom.

It is striking to me how, after they achieved their goal and met the wizard, there was "one more thing" required. Isn't it always that way with anything of the world? It satisfies for a season, but then we need a little more to keep up being satisfied. God alone, through Jesus, truly satisfies and fulfills—and only when we are in a relationship with Him and in His will. It was also striking to me how the witch wanted to create a poison that was attractive to the eye and soothing (the poppy field that put them to sleep). Satan knows that few of us will leave the road and be distracted from the goal and the race with "obvious, big sin" . . . but if he can make something pleasing and appealing and seemingly harmless we are tempted to step off the path, step away from the course, "for just a little bit" and then lulled into his trap.

So, these are just a few thoughts I've had in the midst of trying to finish up the collection of stuff for the youth group's history cookbook. Thanks for "listening" to my rambling, and maybe something in it will speak to your heart. I never promised this blog would be all serious theological posts, but simply a place for me to share for anyone who might be interested. And, just remember, Christian—when the evil one faces you and cackles in your face, you have living water to throw his way! Enjoy him melting when you do!


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