I'm a "scripture scroller." It sounds very high and spiritually mighty, but I assure you it is not. It's quite the opposite, in fact. By "scripture scroller" I mean when I see a single Bible verse posted on Facebook, I tend to scroll past it and not read it. Probably because I'd rather feed my flesh on social media than my Spirit. Because of the latter, I immediately feel shame for bypassing words that come from that which gives all meaning to my life. I have two reasons for doing this. One I like to think is spiritually noble and the other is flat out sinful. We'll start with the noble one. While many single Bible verses are great and can stand alone, some cannot. In many cases context matters so when I see one I cringe a little that it will be applied out of context therefore clouding the glass of my Spirit's beloved living water. Now as for my sinful reason, I just don't like reading Bible verses. Yeah, you read that right. It's not in my nature to want to read the Bible. Ironically, I've been reading it quite often in recent months, but not because I want to. There's something else in me that's much more powerful than I am that has shown me how desperately I need it. I myself would not be drawn to do so on my own.
I don’t like to pray. Yep, you read that right, too. Praying makes me feel defenseless. It's giving up control of the issue or situation at hand and I prefer the driver's seat. If I can just think about it long enough and figure it all out, maybe I can bypass the time-consuming prayer session. There's only one problem. This never works. Despite my best efforts to will something to change or happen, I stay stuck in a vicious cycle of willing, thinking, and worrying and cannot find rest. Trying to figure it out on my own creates anxiety. Anxiety is a cold, dark Ferris wheel and there's no end to this circle. Prayer thrusts me off the wheel onto a solid rock in the sunlight. But not just any prayer. Too often I have prayed selfishly and have later realized its destruction. God’s ways are higher than ours so our prayers should reflect that. I stopped praying for others to change into what I think they should be. I stopped praying for God to fix everything in my life that was broken. I stopped praying that He would give me everything I think I want or need. The only prayer that really gives me peace sounds something like this. "God help me trust you and you alone. Give me wisdom and discernment in every situation that I might know your heart and follow you. Guard my heart and my mind from the enemy and empty me of myself so your Holy Spirit can move and work in me." If I'm hurting or sick i might pray "Lord, please take this pain away so that I may be able to serve you fully, but if you choose not to heal me, help me serve you in my pain and use it for your purpose and glory. Not my will, but yours be done." This is my new prayer for myself and for others. We can pray for anything we want, but the point of prayer is bending to His will not getting Him to bend to ours. The point is recognizing his God-ness, surrendering to His plan, and trusting Him with it all. Only here do we find peace. Well, at least until we jump back on that Ferris wheel again. It's inevitable, but God always shows us where the rock is in the sunlight. We just have to jump.
“For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:14
In recent months, God has shown me how much I need to trust Him alone with all things. I've been specifically burdened by the deception that seems to be creeping into our churches. It's put me on high alert and I've stepped back to reconsider many of my own beliefs from past to present. I've spent more time in the Word and in prayer over these last couple of months than I have my whole life and I am not speaking figuratively here. Knowing the Word is invaluable. It is our only source of truth. We cannot trust our feelings to guide us because we risk our minds being swayed by our sinful nature. Knowing the Bible provides a filter when listening to messages or reading articles we are more prepared to distinguish between truth and lies. Without knowledge of the Word, we are in danger of accepting what we read and hear as truth simply because it sounds good or feeds a rooted deception. While we can't know and understand every biblical subject, there are definitely some issues that are clearly lined out in God's Word and it's negligence can be disastrous. Our purpose, however should not be to know truth to work towards perfection; rather, it should be to know God more personally and to join Him in what he's already doing in our lives and in the lives of those around us. In my own experience, studying the Word and spending more time in prayer has affected me in a way I did not necessarily expect. It has made me much more aware of my sin and shortcomings. The more I learn His truth, the more my need for His mercy and grace abounds. This in turn makes me much more forgiving and merciful toward others. It's a game changer.
Matthew 10:38 says, “If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it, but if you give up your life for my sake, you will find it.” We hold tightly to the things we have in this world and hope in them as if they will last. The satisfaction we truly desire can only be found in our Father through His son Jesus, but we look for it in many places or our quest is incomplete. Hope without Jesus is hopeless. Jesus without His Word is meaningless. His Word without prayer is powerless. All play a necessary role in intimacy with our Dad. He longs to reveal himself to us and guide us through our lives when we embrace everything He gives us that allows Him that privilege.
“So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him.” Matthew 7:11