Sunday, October 30, 2022

Allowing for the Mystery of God

Hey Friend,

If I had a God around whom I could totally and completely wrap my finite brain, He wouldn’t be a God worth worshiping. Trying to comprehend the mysteries of God is like a preschooler attempting to grasp quantum physics. 


I asked God to heal my first marriage, to remove the “thorn” of mental illness, to turn a prodigal back toward home and God was silent. I’ve sat with friends who’ve lost children to drug overdose, illness/disease, and suicide. I still have no good answers as to Why? I can only resolve that one day, God will make clear His perfect will…and then, I will understand.

“Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God knows me completely.”  (1 Corinthians 13:12 NLT)

Prayers for loved ones or for relief from suffering, that confound our paralyzed heart, will stretch our faith. What can help, in the especially difficult times, is to remember that God’s timing is rarely our own. Things may seem to race from bad to worse, but God has complete authority over the situation. One of God’s greatest gifts to us is how He allows us to see, perhaps much later, how His timing and His plans are perfect. Can you go back in your life and think about times when, if you had received what you wanted in the moment, you would not have grown in your spiritual life? 

I got pregnant easily with my daughter. I thought the same would be true for my second child. I was heartbroken when years went by and still no baby. I believe, looking back, I needed to learn to be content with what God had blessed me and let God’s will — not my own — guide my life. When it seems like all hope is lost, it may just mean that God isn’t finished yet — and remember, His timeline is eternal. I eventually had my son and my heart overflowed with gratitude. But, I still would be called to trust in God’s inherent goodness even if my son was never born. Hope never gets lost, it is just taking another way. Doubt’s haunting voice will never have the last word.

I love Ruth Bell Graham’s mother’s heart. She prayed her children through all sorts of trials and tragedies. Prayer has always been a mother’s default setting.


“When I am dealing with an all-powerful, all-knowing God, I, as a mere mortal, must offer my petitions not only with persistence but also with patience. Someday I’ll know why.”  – Ruth Bell Graham


I have to remind myself, a lot, that His ways and His thoughts are “higher” than my own (Isaiah 55:9). God is never flummoxed or frustrated, and nothing can stop Him from carrying out His purposes — not even death. Much like a rainbow after a cloudburst, God shows up when we least expect Him. The Lord moves at His own pace and He’s never late. What we now see dimly in a mirror, we will see clearly, and God will give us complete understanding in heaven. In every mystery there is an element of truth. Often it is hidden or undetected. The author of all the mysteries will one day sit with us and will point out how what we couldn’t understand then, now overflows with His never-ending grace and wisdom.

So, how can we know the unknowable? How can we understand the mysteries of God?  Hold this thought gently in your open hands: There is no understanding of God, and His mysteries, apart from a personal relationship with His Son. Jesus said that when we have seen Him, we have seen the Father.

Would it not make great sense, then, for us to desire, with all our heart, to be in an intimate relationship with the lover of our soul? One day we will understand the word of God in its fullness, and He will reveal to us the mysteries that presently our minds just cannot understand. On our own, we can’t please God, but we can, through His Son, be part of the most holy and fulfilling relationship this life affords. I know that if I can’t be healed, then I want to be tenderly held in God’s embrace. 


If you are struggling with the answer to a prayer, you’ve seemingly been given, or you flat out don’t like how life’s play is unfolding, do know that God often doesn’t give us what we wish for. He gives us what we need. Bad things will happen to “good” people in this world, but take heart, this world is not the end. When our tender flesh is scraped along the concrete of life, we have a choice: Will we, or will we not, adopt a more eternal perspective?  


“We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  (2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NIV)


One day we will see God’s good plan in it all. We will have a great reward on that day, and it will be glorious!

Dear Heavenly Father, I admit there are times I don't like your answers to my prayers. Help me to humbly submit myself to Your sovereign will. I take heart that my prayers are "deathless" and will definitely be answered in eternity. When I don't understand, enable me to turn my heart to what I DO know to be true about you. Give me the faith I need to believe in your goodness, mercy, and faithfulness. I praise you that you are not a God I can put in a box and fully understand. I allow for your divine mystery knowing one day I will fully understand what now I only see dimly. May your perfect love cast out the doubt and fear in my life and draw me into your loving embrace as I wait upon You. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.

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Friday, October 21, 2022

A New Way of Praying

Hey Friend,

Even as a child I was a bit of a worrywart. Are you a kindred spirit? My mother would say, “There you go again, putting the cart before the horse.” I always wanted to know what was coming so that I could be prepared. Desperately seeking to control is symptomatic of living in fear and not trust. In this case, getting ahead of myself was not a good thing, but when it comes to praying and persevering, I am learning that I need to thank God, in advance, for what He is going to do.


Yes, we are to be grateful to God, after the fact, to thank Him for our blessings, but we are compelled to practice a new way of praying. God invites us to come boldly before His throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). We know God will answer when we call on Him. The Bible reassures us of this over and over again. Therefore, we ought to thank Him for the answer that He is going to give. God wants us to wait expectantly for His answer.


Maybe you have been praying and waiting patiently, i.e., enduring, suffering, persevering, and wondering if the Lord is really going to show up? Is that you today? Is it possible to wait expectantly and wait patiently? From firsthand experience, I know the answer to this question is, “yes.” Just as joy and pain can coexist, so can we wait expectantly and with patience marked with endurance and suffering. Hold fast and know His grace is more than sufficient to see you through.


I grew up in the South Hills of Pittsburgh and the only way to get from my home into the city was to go through a long, dark tunnel fondly referred to, by locals, as the Fort Pitt Tubes. While zooming at high speed, through the dark, claustrophobic tunnel, you get antsy to reach the light at the other side. It’s a hair-raising stretch to travel. I often found myself holding my breath wondering, how much longer until I get to the end of this blasted tunnel?

At the very moment when my knuckles grew white from clenching the steering wheel, and my face turned bluish from lack of oxygen, when my patience was spent, it was then I’d shoot out into the awesome expanse of sunlight. In a flip-of-the-switch sunrise, the glistening buildings of the city burst onto the horizon. Simultaneously I’d gulp in air, relax my clenched fingers, and see the breathtaking beauty that I thought would never come.


How do you know that you aren’t in that split second before the glorious end of your tunnel? Perhaps the answer to your prayer upon prayer is up ahead but just hasn’t happened yet. Maybe the pink-hewn sunrise is on the other side of the dark, moonless night. God has a way of surprising us when we least expect it. Often the answer lies just around the next bend, but we need to hang on to see what God’s love has in store for us. We need to trust Him. It’s imperative that we believe in what is unseen.


“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NIV)


God answers prayers in a multitude of ways. I’ve experienced many “God-winks.” These are answers to prayers that we haven’t even prayed — like when God surprises us with a rainbow at the end of a violent storm, or the person in front of you in the coffee shop drive-through pays for your coffee. God says, “I love you and I’m for you,” even when we didn’t ask. Have you ever barely had a prayer pass over your lips and God is already answering it? It’s an answer to prayer that reinforces the fact God knew what you were going to ask even before your mind formed the words. Those are, what I call, the “instantaneous answers.”


More often than not, we put in endless days and nights — many, filled with tears. We are brought to the end of ourselves and to the point of giving up. We wait patiently (enduring, suffering) with virtually nothing to show for our effort. These are the prayers of the persevering heart. God loves you and longs to draw near to comfort you in the waiting.


“I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.”  (John 14:18 KJB)


Like the Good Shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, though the way is long and hard and uphill, He’ll persevere too. He knows where His sheep are, and He will find the way to them. He will find the way to you. This gives us the hope we need to continue pressing on. Just as the lost sheep may be right over the next hill, your answer to prayer may be as well. 

What  about you? Have you ever tried thanking God, in advance, for the sovereign way He is going to answer your prayer? Do you find it hard to wait patiently and expectantly at the same time? Is there a person or a situation you'd like me to pray for -- feel free to leave a first name or initials in the Comments and I would be honored to pray for who or what is weighing on your heart.

Be blessed...

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