Good friends are a huge part of the way the Lord speaks truth into my life on a daily basis. They are Jesus to me with skin on. Overwhelmed by an intense work schedule over the weekend, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to squeeze in the time to blog. When a friend* whom I’ve been encouraging to start a blog, offered to guest post for me, I couldn’t say no! Please enjoy.
“How often do you pray for yourself and about what God wants to do in you?” The question hung in the silence between the two of us. We were parked in his driveway the car filled with the despair and frustration that was welling up inside my heart. Yet as he asked me that question I had to think honestly about it. Most of my prayers were for those around me, my friends, my family, students I taught. Yet how often had I prayed about what God wanted to do in me and in my life? How often had I asked God to reveal what He wanted me to see?
My life recently has been cluttered with distractions. My father who had been a huge part of my life had within the past year abandoned his family to pursue his own goals, my mother lives with a terminal liver condition, which by God’s grace is being managed at this point though she has been diagnosed as stage four liver failure, and I? I live at home paying off debt, working as an educator in a tumultuous time of new state regulations, intensified scrutiny, and a constantly changing diorama of regulations and policies. Within all of this God is working to capture my heart to be more than what I am. I grew up in the church, was raised in a Christian home, worked at a Christian camp and went to a Christian college. Yet through all of that my heart has been weighed down by the traditions and trappings of “christianity.”
God to me has been distant, the judge in my life, always setting goals and standards that are out of reach. With every attempt I made to reach the goals of distant perfection – discouragement followed, building up with each failure. Piercing through that discouragement, my friend asked me how often I pray for myself. Recently God has been stirring me to seek Him for all of who He is, not the God of judgment, though certainly God holds all sovereignty and judgments in His hand, and certainly not a God of cruelty who sets standards impossible to reach, just to watch us fall. God wants and has been calling me to understand His character to its fullest, a God of love and compassion, a God of relationship.
As I sat in the car for the first time in a long time I gave voice to my doubts and fears about who God was. About the failings that seemed to push me further and further away from the God who I knew was King of my life. My friend began to share a bit of his journey and as we talked he asked how often I prayed about myself and for myself. Not about things I wanted or needed but about laying out what my heart truly felt. Laying out my heart with no boundaries, no hidden doors wherever that led, to the God who created me and just wanted me to come to Him. As he spoke I finally just told him to be quiet because I had the overwhelming sense just to pray. And so I prayed….all the despair and frustration and pain and loneliness from the past year welled up out of the depths of my soul, and in that moment sitting in the driveway, Christ granted a taste of overwhelming grace.
For all the failings that we have, God wants to love us. Not perfection in us, but us, in all of our messiness, all our inadequacies, all of our dirtiness. It is a concept in the church that we so often hear but how many of us truly understand the depths of what that idea means? God wants me to seek who He is not with fear or because I can gain favor in His eyes, but because I desire to know Him. God wants us to know Him and to serve Him out of gratitude out of a desire to love Him for who He is. But how do you follow God when it seems so hard to “reach the perfection” He seems to demand in us and that a sovereign Lord deserves? The truth is I can’t reach it, and that is ok because it is Christ in me that can. As the conversation in the driveway continued it turned to practical application. How do I continuously seek Christ when it seems I so often fail? When my prayers seem to be unanswered? The response was surprising. “Perhaps you are not praying for the right thing. Your focus is on one thing and perhaps God is asking you to ignore that and to focus on something else. What is God asking you to be obedient too in the moment by moment day by day things?”
How do I respond to that? I couldn’t. And my friend suggested it was because I haven’t prayed about what God wanted to reveal in me and through me. I was too focused on the issues that I thought should take priority. It was as if God were saying “Don’t worry about others right now or about that list of issues you think you need to fix. I know about them but I want to focus on you and I. Ask me what I want to show you.” And as my friend and I prayed in the car there was only one response, a cleansing grace and an assurance of love. Love that looked beyond the failures and fears in my life, beyond the deep seeded feelings of inadequacies, of not being good enough, into the heart of who I am at my core; it was a love that accepted me for every flaw simply because I am His. In that moment, in a driveway along a country road where once was despair, and hurt, and pain there was now only gratitude, hope, and tears as I caught a glimpse of what the love of the King of Heaven truly looks like. It was a moment of peace when the only sound was of spiritual chains beginning to fall away from a heart that is slowly being released into the freedom of who Christ truly is.
*Guest post by Daniel Miller. Dan is a long time family friend, a middle and high school Biology teacher, soccer coach and lover of all things nature.
Today’s Tidbit of Truth: The Lord wants us to pray to Him about us. It is not selfish to pray for yourself, it is only in praying for yourself, that the Image you were created in, can be revealed to you to reflect. One cannot see the truth of one’s true reflection unless they first stand in front of the mirror. Bring yourself before Him.