Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why Being Asked to be a 'Prayer Group Leader' Stirs up Fear and Uncertainty

It’s not that I fear prayer itself. Well, that would be plain silly.

When the scriptures tell me to go to the hidden place, to seek out the space less sought, to remove myself from the chaos and the noise and the distractions, I welcome the invitation. It’s not prayer that I fear.

What I fear is man. Or in most cases, woman. What I fear are the words I speak audibly; the ones spilling out of my mouth that are better left unsaid. They really are just sounds and blends and yet, once verbalized they cannot be taken back. The spoken word has such power. Power that, when usurped carelessly, can crush and wound or empower and encourage.

He knows my heart, yet those that look at the outside, those that simply hear the words and react, are unable to see the intent, the thoughts, the desires I desperately wish to speak.

Unfortunately, I lack eloquent speech and divinely inspired verbiage (I didn’t even know that was a word). The ability to express and truly portray myself- that gift was administered to another. I have so many thoughts rolling around in this little mind of mine; so many cares and needs, ideas, and reflections of praise.  Why can’t I simply speak and be understood- because I’m not a walking lexicon. He says, “Let there be light” and all of creation obeys. I utter phrase upon phrase and yet neglect to verbalize the heart behind the mess.

It’s all there, and He knows. But do you? Do they? And do my words come close to articulating the spirit behind the terminology?

And so I choose to pray alone. I choose to sit before Him, solely Him, because He knows me so intimately. His love for me is so unrestricted that nothing audible could ever come between that love and His child.

So when you ask me to pray with you, and I seem a little quiet, and my words remain few, know that my heart is full, and my needs are many. The one who is introverted and hesitant in daily discourse, will likewise be timid and cautious regarding group prayer and public displays of faith. The recluse trusts the Discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart far more than those looking and listening from the outside.

Know that I love you, and I want to fellowship with you. Know that I want to pray with you and grow in this area alongside you. Know also that a fear of woman is terrible and can knock the words right out of the meekest of sisters. 

Because if everyday words are unworthy for the casual hearer, then uncertain and indiscernible words spoken for the ears of the Most High are the unworthiest (and no, that is NOT a word). Because He and only He can see past the words and into the depth that really counts.

And if any of this makes any sense at all, then feel free to agree or disagree in the comments. Only do it gently, because otherwise I may cower from blogging altogether. 

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Monday, October 1, 2012

Who Are You?

We’ve all read the parable. We’ve heard numerous teachings on it, and I would venture to guess I’m not the only one who has been asked the question, whether in a sermon style teaching or in a group bible study: “Who are you in this parable?”

Many see themselves as The Prodigal Son himself: having walked away from the Father, pursued things of the world, only to discover them all to be a lie. This is the one who praises God for His incomprehensible grace. Who proclaims he was lost and is now found. Who gives all glory to the Father who never gave up on him. The Father that watched daily, patiently waiting for him to return to his senses.

Then there are those parents who can relate with this Father: the ones holding on to hope for that wayward child. The parent that aches and grieves, offering prayers day and night, watching expectantly. To this parent, the parable offers reassurance that God can save, even to the uttermost. Even when the sinner has knowingly chosen to walk away, setting aside the cross and taking up the desires of world. You may be that parent.

Or you may associate more closely with the brother. You know, the ‘Other Son.’ The one that despised his Father for welcoming his brother home with celebration and a fatten calf after squandering his inheritance. The son who felt he ‘deserved’ so much more. This one proclaiming himself to have followed the commands of the Father to a T, never wavering in his service, always doing what was good and expected. He looks down on his brother as the sinner that he is: no grace, no love, no compassion or understanding. My mind puts this brother in the place of the ‘Rich Young Ruler.’ The brother proudly declares he has kept all the commandments from his youth. The Father gently responds in the form of a question: “You too have an inheritance, Son. Will you sell all that you have and give to the poor?” But when the son hears this, he becomes very sorrowful because his inheritance is much.

I have pondered the question time and again, “Who am I in this parable?” Recently the answer I received was one I never would have expected. The person I clearly saw isn’t even in this parable, but could easily have received a starring role. You see, as the son wasted his possessions with prodigal living, God was at work. As the son found himself in the middle of a famine, desiring to eat the food he fed to swine, God was at work. As the son began coming to his senses, seeing clearly the foolishness of his ways and the need for his Father, God was at work.

BUT, what would have happened if…

What if someone had stepped in and helped this son? What if a brother, friend, or someone simply passing by had brought him food, given him money, or offered him a place to sleep?

What if…?

And this friend, this brother, this wanna be savior is the role I would fill had there been written a part for the character. Because I am that person stepping in to save the world. I am that person wanting to make everything ok and assure no one suffers. I am a savior hindering the work of The Savior. Yes, I am an enabler, and I am convicted to the core!

So maybe you’ve been asked countless times as I have. Even so, I ask you again: who are you in this parable? You may be surprised at what the Holy Spirit reveals to you as you seek to find the answer. 

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