This post may have a some religion type stuff in it, so if you are easily offended, well then I urge you to continue reading. Just kidding of course, I urge everyone who shares my opinion to read my work. It, to me is just part of being humble, is it not? Anyhow, today I thought I would broach the topic of prayer, doing the work of God, and how the two are connected, if at all.
Some time ago when I was just in my twenties, I was really determined to find God’s will for my life, accomplish it, and add a few things I had on my short list to it for good measure. It started out fairly well, as I entered into study of the Bible and lots of ancillary books that helped me understand some of what I was reading. After a year or two I really felt like I had a good foundation and I was excited to start sharing my new-found wisdom with others.
I worked in a setting where I was around teenagers and adults all day, many whom had never even been to church. I had pretty much made up my mind that I was going to make those people my assignment from God. I mean, I had not told Him yet, but surely this is the work of God, telling others about the Grace and Mercy of the Father in heaven. So I pressed on, making strategy after strategy to draw these people into an interest in God, especially the teenagers.
I came in day after day with a new item to draw them close to God. One day I would slip on a Hip Hop Christian cd, in hopes the teens would get into it, and the next I might casually slip in a movie like Left Behind, instead of the usual blood and guts flicks we watched. I remember taking a trick from mom’s playbook and passing out scripture cookies, (instead of fortune cookies) with Chinese dinner.Surely souls were being won left and right- I thought.
Days, weeks and even months passed, and nothing. Not one person asked me to tell them the story of the cross. Nobody dropped to their knees and broke down with their life story of hard living and now redemption. Actually when I really looked at things objectively, I think the behaviors and attitudes actually got worse over the last few months. How discouraging those times were for me. I had arranged for everything those people did each day to almost always include a ” Jesus Moment” that I put together.
I gradually became dismayed and decided I would have to do it I was going to have to go to the Lord and break the news, that He was not blessing my work enough. The people were just not moved. I was going to relax for a week or so, and drop back and punt after I had the talk with the Lord. I remember that about 2 days after I gave up on my strategies to draw teens to God, I was sitting at my desk, with my feet up, playing with a paper clip and shooting paper trash hoops in my office. No Christian books, no Jesus tee-shirt on that day and heck I think I even had country music on that day instead of Christian.
I was just about to get up and call the kids in for dinner when around the corner to my office peeked a familiar face. It was Julie, a 17 year old runaway type who had been living at our home about a year. I knew her well, since she was known for exercising her right NOT to attend church with us on Sundays, or pray before dinner. Secretly she was one that I was not sure God could reach through me, even with the Christian movies and scripture cookies. She was a tough one and I could only guess at what she was up to now.
She proceeded to sit down next to me, and with a tear in her eye ask me to tell her if Jesus would really forgive her for her sins. WHAAAT? Wrong day! I had the previous weeks marked for such a time as this! The timing of this was all off. ” Lord, (I thought) we must work on the timing”. At any rate, she was serious and I told her what the cross was about and she went on to be touched by God in the next weeks and was even baptized ..That was awesome, but I just did not get the timing, after all I was not even working for God that day.
As it turns out God did not need me to touch Julie. The Holy Spirit would do that, I just needed to be available. Even playing with paperclips and paper trash balls, God was able to do something. This was really throwing a wrench in all that I had planned for God to do with my people. Since that time I have learned alot about what my part is and what God does in all this. It seems that my job is to draw close enough to Him, that I will be able to hear the whisper of His voice when it is time to talk to someone or help someone. When I am too busy shouting instructions to God on how to salvage this person or that person, it turns out He wants me to just rock steady where I am at, so I can learn to be obedient
Life has been much different since then! I do not have to arrange for things to be in place for God to work in the lives of others. I can even be playing with paperclips and He still can operate without me! I just need to be available, and this other thing focus on the plank in my eye and not the spec of dust in my brother’s. He is always talking to me about the ” plank” At any rate, the pressure is off of us to dig up stuff for God to bless. It works better when we quiet down, curl up next to Him, and wait for the still small voice which tells us where He is headed next, so we can be there too.