Last week you challenged us as a congregation to pray about how God has gifted us specifically and individually, and to reveal how He might want to use us to grow His kingdom.
I confess that I haven’t really prayed that prayer. Maybe I’m afraid that He doesn’t really answer those kinds of prayers, or that He won’t…or worst of all…that He already has.
Prayer used to be effortless.
For a long time I was convinced that I was someone special in God’s eyes; a woman after God’s own heart. Prayer came easy in those days. I spoke to Jesus about my daily worries and struggles and insecurities. I was sure that God would not only hear, but that He would send relief quickly and consistently. I felt that God really cared about my lost keys, or my child’s nightmares, or whatever else was on my mind.
Along with the constant chatter with the Divine came an assurance that I was under God’s special vigilance. I believed He would never let anything bad happen to me because I was His beloved. I felt safe and secure, and certain I had the sweet life with God.
I was sincere in my faith. When I look back on it now, I realize that I was arrogant and judgmental, but I honestly didn’t perceive myself that way. I was thankful, and felt humbled that God had allowed me to learn about His “truth”.
Then, prayer became impossible.
I found out I was wrong. God DID let something bad happen to me. In fact, God allowed the load-bearing walls of my faith be swept away.
For a long time I was angry with God for “letting me go.”
I was mad at all the people…ministers, authors, fellow members of my flock… throughout my life who helped build a unquestioning faith on narrow interpretations of certain passages taken out of context and extrapolated to relegate God to a very limited, explainable construct.
Sometimes I still miss my old, easy faith that had all the answers.
Yet I knew that my relationship with God would never be the same.
I would never again be able to just trust that if I prayed about something, everything would turn out my way.
And that was the rub…
I now have to accept that God is the Almighty Sovereign One, not my supernatural bodyguard king.
And maybe He has better things to do than make sure little me is “having it my way.”
I know that God allowed those things to happen in my life to move me beyond the simple, easily explained deity that my former church taught about so I could come to believe in the inscrutable Jehovah.
Yet, believing in a Sovereign God makes prayer a little tricky for me
So, do I want to know how God has gifted me specifically and individually, and would I like for Him to reveal how He might want to use me to grow His kingdom? Oh, yes! I would very much like to know!
I would love a clear-cut description instead of letting me flounder with all this trial and error stuff that seems to make up my life’s path.
How simple it could be if only The Lord would give me a singular flash of inspiration instead of allowing me to just serve in my general vicinity willy-nilly.
How simple a straightforward little whisper from the Almighty would make my life!
The snag is that learning the answer would be like going back to that old, easy faith that had all the answers. Back when what I thought was faith was really certainty.
And certainty and faith are opposing ideas.
Faith is the conviction of things UNSEEN.
So, maybe God doesn’t answer those kinds of questions, or won’t, or already has because knowing would be the opposite of His unfathomable will.
What if God actually wants each of us to puzzle it out? Maybe He wants us to be challenged by our individual gifts and our unique failures.
What if success and failure aren’t reckoned by God the same way I reckon them?
What if the journey IS the point? So we will make an attempt and endeavor to try and have a crack at it and give it a go.
So, pastor, no…even though its a beautiful prayer, I can’t pray that prayer. I can’t really pray like that anymore. I don’t need the answers to my questions anymore. I don’t wish to be insulated so I can be secure, and safe, and happy. I’m not in search of sure footing.
I just want to thank Him for my beautiful life and all the many blessings I have. I am so grateful for His unfailing grace and generosity. And I want the courage to say, “Here am I, send me.” And pray that when He does, I will recognize His voice and go.