Thursday, June 28, 2012

Praying in Crisis

I have personal connections to fires raging in Colorado and other western states. My parents have been evacuated from their home and are safe at my brother's house some distance away. My sister is housing a displaced family. The city I consider my hometown is blanketed in heavy smoke and there is daily compulsion to pray. But what should I pray for?

In my gut, I want life to be easy and comfortable with no tragedy or pain or suffering. God, who simply cannot lie, told us we would have trouble in this world. It is messed up because along the way every person makes a choice to serve themselves first and not God. I'm part of that sin equation, like it or not. I don't feel the need to defend God or explain in this blog why we have a messed up world, since it takes little effort to see this is true.

Years ago God taught me some prayer lessons in the years my husband risked his life for the sake of others. I wanted him to come home safely so my life would be comfortable and free of the pain of losing him. I wanted my girls to have their daddy to grow up with. One night while praying with them before they slept, I realized my selfish prayers were a setup for their tender hearts to be damaged if Ron were to die on a rescue mission. I knew from Scripture that life isn't comfortable and easy and that we suffer loss and grief while on this earth. I wanted my girls to have the freedom to ask God for the longings of their heart understanding that He is good AND wanted them to understand that if we don't get what we ask for it isn't because God failed us. So, I changed my prayers. I admitted what I wanted (for him to come home safely) and I asked that he would make wise choices as he flew the helicopter and helped others. I acknowledged God's goodness and asked for His grace no matter what the outcome.

So, how DO we pray for people in crisis? Should we pray for rain which would help put out fires, but brings erratic wind and flash floods to areas without vegetation OR for wisdom for those battling the blazes? Should we pray for no houses to burn OR for comfort and peace for those displaced? Should we ask that miracles happen OR that God would make the best of an ugly mess? YES! We need to ask for our hearts' desires because God said we wouldn't have if we didn't ask. We also need to listen to God's quiet voice to learn His good plan in the midst of a mess. When we ask Him to do what He's planning to do we have the privilege of watching it happen and knowing He did it!

I want my family to be safe and have their house back fully intact. I don't want to have my childhood home destroyed by fire. At the same time, I want comfort for my parents as they wait and watch. I want the people who have lost homes to be comforted and know love from people and to know that ultimately any good we receive originates in God. I want them to have their needs met and want to participate in meeting the needs. I want people to experience God's goodness and love in the midst of their tragedy because He does make a difference and DOES work good out awful things.

So, I pray. I hope you are as well.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Yesterday (at church, how ironic) I messed up. When I realized it, I went and admitted it to those I had offended and said I was very sorry for what I had done and that I understood I was wrong. I asked God for forgiveness. Despite their "no problem" responses, I spent time off and on the rest of the day reviewing what I had done in my mind and berating myself for what I had done. I have an overly active self-condemnation habit that I'm working to break.

Fast forward to this morning. The reason I didn't feel forgiven...I didn't ask for forgiveness. I offered repentance and that was a good first step. Asking for forgiveness gives the other person power and requires I submit myself to their response. I AM forgiven by God, but it also feels good to be forgiven by people when we've messed up. No matter what their response might have been to my request for forgiveness, I think I would have walked away feeling forgiven at that point. There is something wonderful about true repentance, the kind that will do anything to make things right. (2 Corinthians 7:10-11)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Our mission is clear...if we choose to accept it

Our home group recently studied John 17 and one of our members summarized it this way:

We have a mission - to glorify God with our lives. We get to do it even if we take a few steps backward and try again to get it right. God has been at work since before the earth was made and he inserted Jesus into the long timeline of earth to give us the perfect example of how to do it - following God's instructions for our lives to the last detail like Jesus did.

Puritans summarized our mission in a similar fashion: Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.

Here's to doing both - living life in a way that makes God smile and invites His glory to be seen AND enjoying relationship with the one true God Almighty through His son, Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reading the Bible - agenda or no?

Last Saturday as I read the Bible, I found myself slipping into a dying habit. I read to "get something" out of it for you. Rather than reading with the hope of knowing God better and spending time with Him, I got distracted by the pressure I put on myself to write regularly.

I realized it pretty quickly and stopped. I picked up the book, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, and read the text for June 2. It began, "Relax in My healing, holy Presence..." Just what I needed. I sat in the sunshine gazing at the blue sky and thanked God for being in and around me. I basked in His presence. I enjoyed His very personal love for me that morning.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Faith in Tough Times

Faith in God learning to trust Him with everything in life is an essential step in one's faith journey. God gives us opportunity to exercise faith from the start. When we choose to believe the Jesus is the person described in the Bible - virgin-born, sinless, crucified, dead/buried, risen to life, in heaven now - we take our first significant steps of faith. Any one of those facts about Jesus is worth pondering a while.

As we travel along with God, we get more opportunities to believe Him. Some are clear statements in the Bible that require us to stretch what we know or think and become molded to the ways of God. Other facts in Scripture do not give us clear cut answers to some of our questions and that leaves us with a tension that we must live with in faith in order to mature.

Other times, opportunity comes in trusting God to be good no matter our circumstance. [Exodus 33:19, Psalm 31:19]  When I was newly married, my husband had a high-risk job. Each day could have been his last here on earth with me and I wrestled with the implications for myself and our two girls as the years unfolded. I eventually realized that there was no guarantee that he'd be kept safe by God (John 16:33). In I Peter 1:6-7, God tells us that we should not be surprised by the difficulties we face and that they test our faith, our God-confidence. I learned to believe that God is good ALL the time no matter what my circumstances looked like. When Ron was in a helicopter crash and I waited for word of the outcome, I confronted whether I truly believed God to be good no matter what. That day settled it for me and I have held fast to that confidence in God so far. I know there will be trials that will test me beyond the limits I think I have and I expect to believe God's goodness eventually even if I falter along the way.

You will have difficulties in this life, too. Will you believe the goodness of God no matter what?