August 23, 2016
This is a little bit personal and even vulnerable but…
I was praying the other day. My prayer was something like this, “Lord, show me who you want me to be. Show me what your expectations are for me. Tell me what your hopes and desires are for me. Who am I supposed to be in my last few years of professional ministry?” I have prayed similar prayers in the past. Frankly, I have been unable to discern a clear answer, but I got one this time! It was so decisive and unmistakable it startled me. As a matter of fact it’s a little embarrassing that I’m so slow.
Don’t expect me to articulate well the thoughts and feelings that ran through my mind and my soul. It’s sort of like trying to describe an odd dream to someone. You know what I mean? You can never fully explain what happened in a way that makes sense. In my head things were much clearer than they will be here. But the basic gist of Jesus’ answer was this, “Who are you supposed to be? What are you supposed to be? Be like Me, that’s what! (Note verses below) Then you will be the person I want you to be. And frankly I grow weary with prayers that are all about you. ‘What is my will for you?’ ‘What do I want you to do?’ ‘What will I do for you?’ ‘Will I do this or that for you?’ Do you see how it’s always about you? That’s a problem.”
It is a problem! I find that it is easy to turn my thoughts and my desires toward myself. Oh, surely I can rationalize them and make them seem like they are also God’s concern as well… but frankly, I fear they often are not. I do what seems best (often for me) and call it God’s will. That’s a problem.
The fascination with “finding ourselves” is an interesting topic. You know… like finding out who we are so we can better follow God. Discerning who we are so we can figure out what God is up to in our lives. Look at Mark 2 for a moment. 14 As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. It’s intriguing how Jesus summons. He doesn’t tell anyone to go find themselves. Or to figure out who they are. As a matter of fact he tells them something all together different in Luke 9: 59. He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” “Follow me” seems to mean, “Follow me now and allow the less important things of this world to take care of themselves.” Um… who does that? Honestly, not many folks that I know.
We (I) do so much “navel gazing” (looking inward at ourselves all the time) in our world, that our hearts, minds and souls struggle to notice our surroundings. Yeah I know… I don’t like that accusation either. And we are so sophisticated at it that we can easily rationalize our psychological primping as something that God desires so he can use us more effectively. Good thing the Old Testament prophets didn’t waste their time doing that. They were lunatics; but, alas, lunatics who followed God; and crazy men who changed the world. You know… the kind we tend to avoid. But they were avoided back then as well. We too often stay away from those who speak for God. Too hard, too weird, too outside of our boxes. It is so much easier and more desirable to attach ourselves to the world’s wagon and go on our merry way. Well, maybe not for you, but for me it is. Not something I’m very proud of, nor do I know how I will explain that to the Lord. Thank goodness for forgiveness and grace.
I wonder… have you done anything in a while that another might mistake for the actions of Jesus? Know what I mean? Another person might say about you, “I think that’s what Jesus would have done.” It occurs to me that this question might be worth pondering.
Have a blessed day!
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
John 13:13-17 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
Ephesians 4:22-24 To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
1 John 3:2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.
Romans 8:28-29 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
(There are many more verses like these.)