Tuesday, October 14, 2008

What I Learned Yesterday About Tomorrow, Part III

Lesson Six: “I am HOW I pray”

Most of my prayers take one of two forms. I am either asking God to help with some problem, or I am thanking God for helping with... some problem. And, to make matters worse, I am usually bargaining with God in the latter as to how I will thank Him more if he blesses me more... with less problems.

But, that is not prayer… not even close.

I love the first words of Mercy Me’s song, Word of God Speak. “I’m finding myself at a loss for words, and the funny thing is, its okay. The last thing I need is to be heard, but to hear what you would say…”

The most intimate places of prayer have little to do with my words or with my voice being heard. Deeper still, prayer becomes my relationship with God because it symbolizes the places where I am and where I am not... the most in need, the most broken and, yes, the most complete.

My prayer life, as I would presume with you as well, defines how I trust God and how I see the opportunities for where God can move and work in my life.

If my prayer life exhibits listening, praise, peace, comfort, wisdom… then that becomes the reflection for how my heart is connected to God.

If I am stuck in a pattern of only asking for help and only consumed with my own problems and issues… well… you get the picture.

My grandfather prayed beautiful, sweet spirited, humble prayers. He didn’t just talk to God. He walked into God’s presence and found a place.

I always could tell when my grandfather had been praying. There was a look on his face that spoke to having been in the presence of power, majesty and love. It was more than a task on his calendar, prayer transformed him.... defined him.

My grandfather was how he prayed.

Lesson Seven: “I am not enough”

We live in a world that suffers from the “lie of self sufficiency”. It is a lie that we have believed from the beginning… not just our respective beginnings, but from THE beginning. From as far back as the Garden of Eden, we have chosen to believe that we can be enough. Of course, it is entirely in the Adversary’s interest that we learn to waste inordinate amounts of time trying to be our own little gods.

We don’t even have to be particularly good at it. We simply need, from time to time, to become distracted enough that the lotus of our being is distorted and our scope is reduced.

Maybe my grandfather understood this so clearly because of what had shaped him. As a child of the Depression, he understood being without and not having enough. He also understood that eventually, no matter how smart or strong or fast you are, something comes along that “reduces” you. That was his term for being put in your place or in becoming all too aware of our frailties.

Or maybe it was “war” that shaped him and showed his generation what happens when self interests or national interests overshoot goodness, community or self control.
Regardless, my grandfather passed along this wisdom directly and often. He would always say, “Boy, you're smart, but you will never be smart enough” when it came to my need to keep learning. Or, he would, concerning my golf game, say “Son, you're good, but you will never be good enough. You will always have to practice.” He was right about that, too.

Of all the lessons we can share with our words and actions, this one may be the most important for our children to learn. Sure, we assure them that they are loved, valued and respected, but there is always room to grow deeper and better.

Learning early that we are not enough to meet the various challenges and seize the opportunities of life causes us to reach for others, and, hopefully, for God.

Sure there is a lot of pushback for this one. Our culture prefers the opposite, teaching that our answers are found “within” us. And, that is partly true (God has placed the answers simply and humbly deep within our hearts and relationships with Him) But, WE are not the answer.

Ultimately, no matter our gifts or strengths, we turn down a dead end, face an impossible question, or reach an obstacle too high.

We are not enough.

Love to you all.

Be Salt and Light... You Matter.

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