Saturday, May 9, 2015

2015: The Year of Prayer: Week 18

But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me. - Micah 7:7

If you are looking for passages of Scripture to memorize, that's a good one because it is easy.  Its "address" is easy too.  Sometimes we just need the fundamental truth of God - anticipation, hope, salvation, recognition, expectation.  We have prayers, needs that are yet to be met.  Fulfillment of what we know God will do is not quite complete.  It's the now-not yet principal of our faith.

Thankfully, though, we have one advantage over the prophets - what they longed for, what they predicted - what here Micah eagerly awaits - we already know.  Messiah has come and He has finished the work for all of us.  The Apostle Paul (who I have a complicated relationship with although I truly love the guy) completes the thought of the promise from Micah in 2 Corinthians 1:20: For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.

It is significant Paul uses "Amen" in this verse because Amen actually means "Let it be so," or "It is so."  We end our prayers with that word (knowingly or unknowingly, as I wasn't aware of this till recently!) and we are saying, God, this is Yours.  We have prayed to You, now let Your will be established.  Let it be as You say it will be and we will give You all the glory for it.

In prayer, saying Amen is a final act of relinquishing - of giving everything over to God to do with as He sees fit.

I say all of this only because it highlights my week.  After last week (read about Week 17 here), this week felt more like a lull.  In the church seasons, we live most of our life in "Ordinary Time," (although technically that's not the season we are in).  This week has felt pretty ordinary.  Having every week be like last week is not physically speaking, sustainable....(our bodies need rest from the adrenaline soaked workings of the Holy Ghost)...still, this week sort of felt like a downer.

Not for lack of great God work.  Another young man I've been walking life with, Oliver, experienced a major deliverance on Sunday morning from 18 years of having to control everything.  He walked into our prayer time with back spasms and TMJ.  He walked out healed of the back spasms and well on his way to being freed from his painful jaw condition, with new spiritual weapons at his disposal.

On Wednesday, my good friend Audrey experienced the power of prayer like never before.  She was the recipient of the wonder-working power of the agreement of God with His people.  It was really intense and highlighted for me how much I need (we all need) Him directing things, so we can make those giant leaps into greater freedom.

Thursday, my friend Brad's sister Brooke, was seriously ill coming back from vacation.  She had to be rushed to the ER on her layover here on her way home to L.A.  Yet, thanks to God's foreknowledge, she was in the best place for care.  She obeyed the Lord when booking her trip.  She asked Him where she should connect through and He answered.  Months later, she was delivered into the best hands possible, medically and emotionally speaking (her family lives here). After only 48 hours in the hospital, she's been discharged, no surgery or procedures required, resting at home with her mom.  We are believing she will be well enough to come to church with her family on Sunday!   
Only God.

The tapestry He is weaving in the community of faith in Houston (and the U.S.) is taking shape for all who wish to see it.  It is incredible to be a part of!

As busy as God has been this week, so has the enemy.  I don't say that to give him any credit, I truly can't stand that devil.  He has been stirring up trouble, working to wreak havoc.  That's why Oliver had back spasms in the first place, and Brooke got sick.  None of that mess was from the Lord. 

For me personally, there were some tough lessons.  Character development is always rough.  Still, I'm thankful.  I know nothing is wasted, God is the original recycler.  He takes the past and the present, when we let Him, making all our trash into beautiful, useful, helpful new creations.  (See Genesis 50:20 and Romans 8:28)

One of the big things I learned was not to focus on the one area that is wrong in a relationship.  Instead, I need to let Holy Spirit shift me up a level - to look at the bigger picture.  Having a myopic view of a situation is very dangerous.  When you focus on the one area that is out of whack or balance, it ruins fellowship, connection and intimacy.  People aren't just one day, one week, one habit.  God made us whole in Christ, each on our own journeys towards the greater abundance He came to give. (see John 10:10).

There are no overnight successes in the Kingdom of God!  When you look back, you see the Hand of God working all along, bringing you to the right place, ready to receive.  However, the insidious tactic of the enemy is to make us think we should all be instant rock-stars of faith at the moment of salvation; no longer needing the grace of God because we are all perfect. The enemy of our hearts WANTS US only to focus on what needs to change because he knows, if we are grateful for what God has and is doing, his plan of destruction is already lost.

It is all too easy to try and jam our fingers into our brother's eye to dig out the speck and forget the logs God has surgically removed, with His instruments of gentleness and grace, from our own.

If I know one thing, though, this life is not a sprint.  It isn't even a marathon.  My pastor and dearest friend (and this week counselor), Christian Washington, pointed that out a few months back - our lives of faith are actually triathlons!  You might finish swimming, but then you have to get on the bike.  You get off the bike only to start running.  We are never "done in Christ," this side of eternity and to forget that is to forget our need for God - and then we start leaning too far into our own understanding.  

It doesn't mean we stop praying or encouraging change where it is needed.  Jesus met people where they were but never left them that way.  Jesus was the Master of knowing what kind of pressure - and where - to apply.  He rarely spoke a harsh word of rebuke to His Disciples.  There was that one time with Peter (Get behind Me satan...) but even then, that was to crowbar Peter out of his own understanding of what the Messiah was to do.  

In this week of "the lull," I have to keep in mind He is in charge and I am not.  When I try to make every week like last week, every day a mountaintop, trying to do Holy Spirit's work for Him, I will be disappointed.

We need the lulls to recover.  It doesn't mean we aren't doing anything.  Rather, we are taking the critical step of resubmitting ourselves to His direction.  When a farmer plants a field, much of the time it looks like nothing is happening, but the fruit is growing.  At the right time, those mountaintops will be revealed and all our labors will not have been in vain.  The harvest will be ready and ripe.  We will work side by side with the Lord and each other to reap it.  (See Galatians 6:9-10)

Until then, like Micah, in certain areas of my life, I watch in hope for the Lord.  I wait expectantly for God my Savior to come in fullness, to answer, to help.  The answers to our prayers enter our dimension when the time is right, but the Lord has already released them.  They are above and ahead of me.  I'm the one that has to catch up to the "Yes," of God.

So, in hopeful expectation of that YES...I will say AMEN.

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