Grace for the New Year

Gina Butz expectations, grace, truth 4 Comments

Grace for the New Year

Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash

I woke up one morning soon after Christmas break all ambitious for the day (the 5-word title of my biography will read Maybe She Was too Ambitious). I planned a few hours of writing, a few hours of talk planning.

But then we had an unexpected doctor visit (all’s well, thanks for asking). That’s alright, I thought-a little less writing, a little less planning.

And then I realized how tired I was. So I decided on a 20-minute nap.

4 times in a row.

While I went in and out of sleep, I felt that old nagging friend, Anxiety, whispering, “You’re not getting things done,” and her companion, Guilt, “some start to the new year. I mean seriously, it’s day 3 of being back to productivity.”

But then, Grace showed up. And Grace said, “Apparently you need sleep. Good thing you’ve got time next week. It’ll be okay. It will happen. One day that doesn’t go as planned does not derail your life.”

It doesn’t take long into a new venture for those old voices to start whispering to us. Maybe we bit off more than we can chew. It might be too hard. Do we really need to go to the gym? How important is that habit I wanted to start? Is that dream actually worth pursuing?

It’s easy to fall into an all or nothing mentality. If I’m not doing it well, maybe it’s not worth doing. If I skip a day, fall short, miss an opportunity, maybe I shouldn’t have tried in the first place.

But that’s a life without the voice of Grace. We won’t get far into our adventures this year without it.

What Grace Says

Scripture says the righteous person falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity (Proverbs 24:16).

The wise woman hits repeat four times on her alarm and then rises to try again, but the foolish one lets the negative voices tell her she’s disqualifying herself.

In the pursuit of the goals, habits, and dreams we hope to accomplish this year, we will stumble. Grace is the voice saying, “get back up, you’re not done.”

Grace says one day doesn’t take us out. Or a week of days. Or even a month. It says we can still hope, and God doesn’t desert, and this is all part of being human.

Grace might be the best companion we have all year. The best workout buddy, the greatest accountability partner, our biggest cheerleader.Twitter

So let’s bring Grace along this year in every endeavor. Let it be the voice that speaks loudest in your mind whenever you get sidetracked. Listen to it call you to freedom and rest. May it be the voice that encourages you to keep going.

 

Related posts:

Grace for the Less Than Ideal Days

Grace Will Take Us Places Hustling Can’t

 

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Speak Your Dream Out Loud

Gina Butz expectations, hope, personal, perspective 1 Comment

Speak Your Dream Out Loud

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Accountability is a beast, isn’t it? I once trained for a 10K, but I didn’t tell anyone except my husband. The morning of, I thought, “No one knows I signed up. If I don’t go (and my body was telling me that was a good idea) no one would know.”

But I went. And I ran a pretty good time.

When you speak your dreams and goals out loud, then it all matters, doesn’t it? And that’s exactly why we should do it.

When I Learned to Speak My Dream

For the last six years, a dream stirred in me. I wanted to write a book. The first couple of years, I wrote by myself in Panera and the public library and Starbucks. Once, a stranger asked me what I was doing. I told him, “I’m a writer.” He was incredibly impressed, and I felt like a complete fraud.

I don’t remember when I first told someone, “I’m writing a book.” I do remember that as the years passed, and the book still wasn’t finished, and then it wasn’t published, I grew sheepish. Ashamed that I had told anyone I was attempting this. Because accountability.

I should have kept my mouth shut, right? But no. I’m glad I didn’t. Because when we put our dreams out there, they become a little more real. And others rally around us. Or not. But that’s irrelevant. Because we are meant to speak our dreams out loud.

Why We Should Speak

Because this is what I know: when something good stirs in us, it’s from God. It’s not just a pipe dream-it’s the whisper of a calling. It might be more than just an idea; it might be the very thing you’re called to do.

And when we say it out loud, we honor what He puts in us. It makes us a little braver, or at the very least, slightly less willing to set it aside. And maybe that in itself is bravery.

Speaking our dreams awakens hope. It opens our hearts. It makes us stand a little taller, try a little harder, look a little further.

Maybe the dream won’t come true. Maybe God will transform it into something else. Something better, even. His ways are even higher than ours, so why not start with speaking the dreams He’s given us? It’s the only way to move toward seeing the bigger things He has in store.

Hope is scary. But so is letting it die. People keep asking me what I’m looking forward to in 2019. When I say, “My book getting published” it feels like a surreal, delightful dream come true.

I’m so glad I never gave up. And I’m so glad for those who heard my dream and wouldn’t let me forget it.

It wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t spoken it out loud and invited others to encourage my dream.

My Challenge to You

So dream big this year, friends. Speak your dreams out loud. Anything from, “I’m going to run a marathon,” to, “I’m going to love better,” to, “I’m going to reach my neighborhood.”

What goals do you have as you begin this new year? What dream is stirring in you? Will you be brave to say it out loud?

Ask God to awaken something in you. Speak it out. Then see what happens.

Not Alone Because of Christmas

Gina Butz Christmas, faith, loved 0 Comments

Never Alone Because of Christmas

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

I’m not a fan of being alone, at least not for long. (That might surprise some of you who see my introvert side). The loneliness I avoid runs deeper than “who can I talk to at this party?” It’s the fear that ultimately, it’s all up to me to take care of myself.

I’ve talked about it before, this fear. It shows up in my efforts to rescue myself, and everyone around me. I reveal it when I try to pick up all the worries in my life and fix them without others’ help.

When I’m striving to look like I’m all put together, it’s usually because I’m afraid that if I don’t impress, you’ll leave. Rather than leaning into God for help, I charge ahead, alone.

Really, it’s a fear that I’m not enough. Loneliness sometimes feels like an indictment, doesn’t it? Like there must be a reason I’m alone. If I’d been more interesting, more worth the trouble, more something, I wouldn’t be by myself. It’s not. 

And this is why I love Christmas.

Because now, God is with us. Immanuel. The one who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, is now our constant.

Christmas declares that we are not alone. We never have to be alone again.

Christmas proclaims to the world that everything that might keep us from others-our failure, our mistakes, our deficiencies, our “not enough” or our “too much”-does not keep us from the love of God.

In fact, before we even asked, before we even knew we needed it, God decided to remedy our loneliness. Jesus’s birth mended the brokenness in our relationship with Him, and subsequently, in us.

And if He went through all the trouble of coming for us in the first place, He’s not going to leave us now.

The fear that drives me to rescue myself and everyone around needs to simmer in the greatest rescue story ever told, when the Hero stole into enemy territory under cover of darkness to find me because He just had to be with me.

When I’m tempted to pick up all those worries and fix them myself, Immanuel reminds me that He didn’t just come to save us from our sin, but to save us from ourselves. He is with us in the midst of the anxieties, not with condemnation but with comfort and help.

Jesus’s willingness to be with me speaks to the part of me who believes I have to prove that I’m worth having around. He came before we ever did a thing.

And though I forget again and again to lean into Him, He patiently waits, available. He is with us in the middle of every trial, every tear, every heartache, closer than our own hearts.

The one who is with us is the giver of peace, the God of comfort, the Father who won’t fail us, our greatest counsel.

We are never alone, because He is with us.

I’ve had to remind myself this over and over again lately because it’s hard. The self-sufficiency that served me and others so well and for so long in my life is not why Jesus came. He didn’t come to affirm my self-reliance, but to take it away. He came to heal it.

So this Christmas, this is the thought I’m choosing to dwell on: I am not alone. Immanuel. He is with me. With us.

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

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Grace Will Take Us Where Hustling Can’t

Gina Butz grace 0 Comments

Grace will take you places hustling can't

Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

If you’ve been to any kind of sporting event, you’ve likely heard (or said yourself), “C’mon, let’s hustle!” Move faster, stay ahead of the game, git ‘er done.

Hustling is a high value in our society-those who do get ahead. They win.

But hustling pays a price. When we do it for too long, it becomes the way we feel we must live in order to survive. There’s no peace, no finish line.

We begin to believe we are what we do. We depend more and more on our own strength. The hustling defines us.

And then probably somewhere along the way those who hustle fall down exhausted, because no one is meant to live that way for the long haul.

But then there’s grace. Imagine yelling that at a sporting event, “It’s all grace, baby!” Think what that would do (aside from stink eye from other parents).

Hustling might take us faster, but where does it leave us?

Maybe grace could take us farther.

Where Grace Takes Us

Grace takes us to freedom. It lets us fail, and get back up again, and in the process, we learn more.

Grace says slow is an acceptable, maybe even preferable, pace. It might take longer to get there, but we have stamina for the long haul.

Grace opens the door for us to be ourselves in ways hustling never allows. It tells us that we are a gift just as we are, not as we think we ought to be.

And grace invites others to join us on that journey. As the African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

We were made for grace, for a way of life that says, “you’re okay. Stop trying so hard. It’s been done for you. Relax into it.” So when we live in grace, we live like we’re home.

It’s hard to undo patterns of hustling. Hard to shut out the voices around us that say, “Prove your worth.” Grace sometimes feels too good to be true, like we’re letting go and just treading water.

But instead of treading water, maybe it’s learning to grab hold of the liferaft that’s always been there. It’s letting go of striving and resting in what’s been done for us. We stop our desperate swimming and walk to shore. 

So today I want to see where I’m hustling-working hard to earn my place and prove my worth. And then I want to remember that grace is the better option. Let go. Be yourself. We’ll go farther this way.

Related posts:

Let’s Be the Grace Givers

Learning to Walk (At an Unhurried Pace)

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What I’m Thankful For Today

Gina Butz gratitude 0 Comments

What I'm Thankful For Today

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

On this day of Thanksgiving, I thought I’d start out with a list of what I’m thankful for.

As I reflect, I’m overwhelmed by my gifts. Really, I’m #blessed beyond measure.

Why I’m Thankful

See, I woke up this morning in my own bed. There was a roof over my head without a single leak in it. Our AC works when it’s hot, and I have covers when it’s cool. Thank God.

I woke up with full possession of all my faculties. My eyes worked. There was breath in my lungs. All my senses were available to me. I awoke pain-free. Thank God.

There was running water in my house, even clean enough to drink. Our electricity is on too, which is awesome. We live in this house that is more space than we need. On top of that, we can afford the mortgage on it. Thank God.

I’ll admit, we had no milk, but we didn’t go without because the cupboards are stocked with plenty of food. Nothing in our house is currently broken, but if it was, we can probably afford to fix it. Thank God.

Since we don’t have to walk miles to get water or find food, I had time to sit and read. Y’all-I can read! Wow, I’m grateful for that. I can read and write, and I had leisure time to do it. Thank God.

Our son needed pants since apparently living two hours north is much colder than here (especially when he rides the electric skateboard he is blessed to have that gets him around the campus where he’s privileged to learn). So we got into a car that we can afford gas for, and that runs great, and drove to the store. Thank God.

And at the store, we used phones to stay in touch with each other, and a gift card to offset the cost, and we found what he needed and then some, and we didn’t have to think about what we might have to give up to be able to wear clothes. Thank God.

Friends, I could go on and on. And this is just the bare minimum. Because for the most part, every day I wake up all these things are true, and those alone should make me the most grateful person alive.

More to Be Thankful For

I didn’t even begin to express my gratitude for the people in my life-my husband, who is kind, trustworthy, and supportive. Or our kids, who are just my favorite people on the planet and make us proud every single day. Our church, community group, neighbors, and dear friends-these great people who do life with us. Did I mention I have a new nephew? I do. He’s the cutest. My family is such a blessing. Thank God.

I didn’t mention that I enjoy what I do for a living. What I do feels more like love than work. My mind still can’t wrap about the fact that this time next year I will be a published author. I’m also grateful that I can spend part of my time home raising my kids. Thank God.

And when I’m not working, I can afford to play. I have passions and gifts and interests, and the time to enjoy them. Thank God.

Above all, I have Jesus. Everything I’ve mentioned could disappear, but not Him. Not what He’s given me. Salvation alone is more than enough, more than I deserve.

And yet He gives still more. Every morning the breath in my lungs, all that I am able to see, the abilities I have, are all unexpected, unmerited gifts. Joy, peace, grace, mercy, and love are poured over me daily. Thank God.

Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful. Some seasons knock the wind out of us. It’s tough to be grateful in the middle of a storm.

But even in the storm, we have much. Let’s start there. Let’s be thankful.

 

Related posts:

Panning for Gold: When Gratitude Is Hard 

It’s All in How You Look at It

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Don’t Miss the Journey

Gina Butz faith, gratitude, perspective 1 Comment

Don't miss the journey

Photo by Lili Kovac on Unsplash

I’m the kind of girl who focuses on the end goal-not much for taking in the scenery. I was reminded of this last summer while on vacation near the Smokey Mountains.

One morning our group of 14 ventured out in several cars to go whitewater rafting. In our car was one person who insisted on stopping for “real” coffee (I don’t know what this means. I don’t understand coffee), so we lagged behind the others.

The arranger of our trip wanted us on a tight schedule, so we weren’t exactly starting the day off on the right foot. The optimists in the car were sure we could make up the time (I was not one of them).

But then our route took us through the mountains, and they just kept getting more beautiful. The higher we drove, the more breathtaking it became. It was criminal not to stop and take it in.

With each stop, I was conscious that the rest of our group was waiting for us. The timekeeper in me nagged a little, but was silenced by views like this:

And this:

And this:

With each stop, I realized that while what was waiting for us at the end of the trip was exciting, the journey was just as amazing as the destination. If we only focused on the end, we would have missed the beauty along the way.

What We Can Find on the Journey

How easy it is to live so much in anticipation of what lies ahead that we miss what is here. It’s not about the destination; it’s about what we experience on the way.

If we are people who only look ahead, we never really arrive. Or if we rush along the way, never stopping to take in the view, we rob ourselves of joy in the journey.

Because there’s good along the way. There are things we should stop and celebrate. We can stop and measure for a minute how far we’ve come, even if we have far to go. We can enjoy the greater and greater views.

In the journey of faith, slowing down helps us see what God is doing. Taking time to look around leads to worship and gratitude. Seeing that we are not where we were reminds us that God is faithful. It gives us courage and hope that He will keep working. God isn’t anxious for us to be “done.” He loves us every step of the way.

What are the stones of remembrance that mark my walk with God? How can I stop, celebrate, and give Him glory for what He’s doing in me? I might still have far to go, but the view keeps getting better. That’s worth rejoicing in.

What’s your view look like right now?

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Choosing Slow

Gina Butz grace, peace, rest 0 Comments

Choosing Slow

Photo by Alex Blăjan on Unsplash

If you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I like efficiency. (It’s the hallmark trait of an Enneagram 3).

The faster I work, the more I get done. If I get more done, I’m more likely to be seen, recognized, successful, valuable. Or so the logic goes.

And so, I move quickly.

I drive, as I like to say, like I’m trying to lose someone. Not super fast, but fast enough.

Despite never taking a typing class, I type quickly (and with terrible form I imagine, but it gets the job done).

Each week, I speed through my housework like a Tasmanian Devil.

I dare you to keep up with me at the airport. Or anywhere, for that matter. I’m short, but I’m fast.

Grocery shopping. Packing my bags. You name it-I guarantee I am mentally calculating how to get it done as fast as possible.

It’s like I’m playing a game of “whoever does more wins.” Faster feels better. It feels like winning.

I don’t do slow.

Or at least, I historically haven’t. God started me on a journey in the spring of reclaiming space in my life. Turns out it’s more than just doing less. It’s doing less at a slower pace. Living an unhurried life.

I’m learning that having less in my schedule doesn’t necessarily mean my soul is taking life at a slow pace.

As Mark Buchanan says in The Rest of God, we are meant to sabbath, “not just a day, but as an orientation, a way of seeing and knowing.” Slow is not just about time, but it’s an attitude, a way of living.

So lately, I have to ask myself, “What’s wrong with slow, Gina?” What do I gain by all this hurry?

Maybe the better question is: What do I lose?

When I make it my aim to drive as quickly as possible, my body stays in a state of tension. Slow drivers irritate me, my patience wears thin. Other people become nothing more than obstacles. My focus is on my pace, more than anything else around me, including those with me.

When I type quickly, I feel myself ramping up. The, “more is better” lie whispers in my ear.

A day of housework at top speed leaves me exhausted, depleting me of reserves I could have spent elsewhere.

When I race through airports and stores and down the sidewalk, I miss life along the way. I miss the people around me.

And all for a few extra minutes, one more task completed, another email sent.

All this speed makes my soul feel left behind. There’s no space, no rest. Getting more done, getting there sooner, doesn’t guarantee more life, more love, more anything. I’m left impatient, exhausted, and irritated.

For the sake of my soul, I’m choosing slow.

So I’m choosing to drive slower than I could. When someone in front of me is taking their time, I often change my speed to match theirs. There’s a long stretch out to our neighborhood where the speed limit is 55. Recently I found myself barely driving 50 down it. (I used to hate people like me).

I’m slowing my typing too. It’s hard to do-fast habits are hard to break. But there’s a release of tension when I intentionally do slow (bonus: I mistype things less too).

Recently, I flew to Little Rock, Arkansas. When the people in front of me walked like they had all day to get to the gate, I was tempted to swerve around them. Instead, I took a breath and kept walking with them. It was good.

As I make these choices, something unwinds in my soul. Breathing comes easier. I remember I’m not as important as I think I am. I find peace I didn’t know was there.

Now I’m looking for other places where I could do slow. When I feel the temptation to speed, I ask myself what I hope to gain from it. And what I could gain from an unhurried pace instead: patience, gentleness, grace, rest.

Where do you need to be slow?

Related posts:

Learning to Walk (at an Unhurried Pace)

Warning: Don’t Forget to Breathe

To Be Truly Still

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What Is Anger’s Real Name?

Gina Butz emotions, grief, perspective 12 Comments

What is anger's real name?

Sometimes on New Year’s Eve, when I’m feeling ambitious and intentional about our family relationships, we review the year together. One question we ask our kids is, “what’s one thing you learned this year?”

Our last year overseas, our then 10-year-old said, “I’ve learned that anger is a secondary emotion,” and I high fived myself.

Partly because it felt like I nailed something good in parenting, but mostly because I was glad our kids learned it so much sooner than I did.

It was something I learned that year too, mostly because I experienced a lot of it (we got a dog. It was hard. I got angry. Really angry).

Anger is a secondary emotion, meaning that it’s not all we’re feeling. When we’re angry, it’s usually because we’re feeling something else, something that feels vulnerable. So anger, which makes us feel big, covers the emotion that makes us feel small.

Anger was a theme that year for our whole family. It rose in me when we got our dog and everything in my life fell apart. Our daughter lived in it the summer before we moved back to the U.S.

For me, the anger covered shame, the shame of failure, of not living up to my image of a successful homeschooling, dog training missionary. Our daughter’s anger masked the fear she felt in being so completely out of control and sad in the process of leaving home.

What Anger Tells Us

Anger is a good barometer. We get angry when something we love feels threatened. Often it’s our image. Or it’s a way of life we’re trying to hold onto. Maybe our deepest desires feel threatened-our desire to be wanted, important, safe, right.

Anger doesn’t always show up as rage. In fact, often it doesn’t. It disguises itself as sarcasm, criticism, stubbornness, contempt. It slips out in clipped words and impatience.

Most of us don’t linger in anger for long. It feels wrong. We dismiss it, stifle it, or blow it off quickly, rather than allowing it to be a doorway into something deeper.

When we don’t linger, we never get to the bottom of what we’re really feeling. And we need to.

Because if we sit with our anger long enough, it will tell us its real name.Twitter

The Names of Anger

It might tell us its name is grief. Maybe shame. Fear. Fear of losing control, fear of not being enough. Weakness. Confusion. Despair. Beneath our anger is our true emotions that need to see the light of day so we can deal with them.

This fall, I was, in my husband’s words, “kind of mean.” That’s fair. (He was being gracious-there are stronger words he could use).

He said maybe I didn’t have much emotional margin after sending our son off to school, the prayer rollercoaster God took us on this summer, and the business of gearing up for a conference this fall that I’m leading.

Regardless, I’m glad he said something. It gave me an opportunity to sit with my anger and see what it was hiding. It told me I felt unimportant, lonely, unheard, in certain areas. As I sat with those more raw emotions, my anger began to dissipate.

Don’t ignore anger. Pretending it doesn’t exist, or dismissing it without question robs us of the path to deeper emotional health and wholeheartedness. Sit with it. Dialogue with it. Let it tell you what you’re really feeling.

What is your anger’s real name?

 

Related posts:

Looking Scary (When We’re Scared)

When Fear Is a Dictator

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Come Be With Me

Gina Butz faith, rest 2 Comments

Come be with me

Photo by Tom The Photographer on Unsplash

“Come be with me.”

I probably said that a dozen times during the week when our son was home from college.

It was good to have his presence here again. His words and laughter filled the empty spaces. More food was eaten. I did his laundry. Cut his hair.

We ate out as a family, but other than that, it was an average week. I felt we should do something epic, like a beach day (but our kids hate the beach, and my husband traveled).

But that’s ok. We didn’t need to do anything special together. I just wanted him to be with me.

I wanted to be in his presence, hear his stories, sift through his fears, learn what he’s learned.

So, like a creepy person, I followed him around the house.

When he watched TV, I sat with him. While he tinkered with his computer, I sat on his bed and read a book. Whenever I noticed him unoccupied, I called him over, “Come be with me.”

Each time I did, I couldn’t help but think that this is how God views us.

How He Sees Us

As I go about my day, often weighed down by tasks or worries, God patiently waits.

When I slow down enough to be with Him, the temptation is to make that time productive. Purposeful. I’m a soldier, reporting for duty, ready for my orders.

But He just wants to be with me.

I come with agendas. My prayer list, or the Bible study I’m doing.

But He just wants to be with me.

Or I convince myself it’s not that important to Him if I come or not. It should be epic, right? Meaningful time. Spiritual progress. Mountains moved. I should make it worth His while.

Yet God says, “Just come. Be with me.”

Yes, feel free to bring the needful tasks of your day. He will speak to them. But so much more He simply wants our presence. He wants to listen to our stories, sift through our fears, hear what we’re learning.

It’s unfathomable to me that God might miss us while we’re off trying to save the world, but He does. He watches us in our busy days and whispers, “Come be with me.”

Cease your doing. I just want to enjoy you. I love to spend time with you. I’m glad you’re here.

Whether we come in our filthy rags or we come in all our glory, minds quieted and at rest, or cluttered with the tasks of the day, He wants us to come.

I want to cultivate this awareness in my life-wherever I am, He is there. He is waiting. Waiting to sing over me, to listen, to laugh, to simply be alongside me.

“Your God is present among you,
    a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
    and delight you with his songs.”

Zephaniah 3:17, The Message

 

Related posts:

Learning to Walk (at an Unhurried Pace)

Warning: Don’t Forget to Breathe

Get Quiet Enough to Listen

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Why Pray?

Gina Butz prayer, trials 2 Comments

Why Pray?

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

This was a summer of big prayers.

It was also a summer of “no” in answer to those prayers.

It left me a little raw.

I declared myself “the persistent widow” from the beginning (Luke 18:1-8). Our son faced some huge obstacles that needed mountain-moving prayer. I was ready to be audacious. I asked big. Give me the pony, God, I know you can do it.

But He didn’t.

The summer left him without the housing we desperately prayed for this fall. In fact, he’s worse off than he started; one of his closest friends, who was going to room with him in the dorms, got into that housing, leaving him with a random roommate. That was a hard, hard no.

A dear friend of ours suffered a brain aneurysm. For two weeks we joined her husband and sons in aching prayer for healing. They are prayer warriors. Although I know it’s not necessarily true, it feels like their prayers reach God’s ears more than the rest of us because of that.

But they didn’t. Her healing came in the form of going home. That “no” was heartbreaking.

My Big Prayer

I had a big prayer recently, one I was hesitant to share with others, because what if it was a “no,” too?

All kinds of crazy thoughts came to mind when I thought about this request.

Part of me thought, “God, I feel I’m about due for a ‘yes,’ what do you say?” Almost like He owes me. (I told you-crazy thoughts).

On the other hand, He seems to be in the habit of doling out the “no” responses lately. Why expect something else?

And yet, I prayed.

And prayer is hope, and hope is scary.

Prayer is handing our hearts and dreams and control all over to God, like a small child emptying her sticky pockets into His hands. The track record of this summer made me throw some side eye at God, wondering, “what will you do this time?”

I know He does good. I just don’t know how much the good might hurt.

It makes me ask again, “why even do I pray?”

Why Pray?

Do I pray because I want my way? You betcha. In my kingdom, comfort and happiness reign. The problem is, we’re meant to pray for His kingdom to come, not ours.

We become myopic about the ways we want God to answer prayer. Our definition of His goodness is narrow. We forget about His higher thoughts and ways.

But it’s so easy to do.

And that’s why every prayer is a wrestling, a choice to invite His wisdom, power, and sovereignty into our lives and declare our dependence, while at the same time, proclaiming, “yet not my will but yours be done.” We lay our desires before Him, and then vulnerably allow Him to answer as He pleases.

When Jesus saw people walking away from Him in disappointment, He asked His disciples, “Do you want to go too?”

If I don’t get the answers I seek, will I walk away? No, because actually what I want more than an answer is Him. I want what only He can do in me.

Prayer Changes Us

I want what prayer does to me. It takes me out of the position for which I am not qualified-that of decider of my fate, god of my world, ruler of my kingdom. It reminds me who I am and what I can and surely cannot do.

I want what prayer did for our family this summer. It forced us to look at life through the eyes of faith, not sight. Prayer teaches us to look beyond what makes sense and believe God will prove Himself faithful and good in ways we don’t expect. As our son said, “I realized I was praying for what I want and I wasn’t thinking about what God wants for me.” Isn’t that always the way we’re tempted to go?

In the end, prayer is less about moving the hand of God, and more about resting in it.Twitter

As I drove the other day, lifting my big prayer to God, I thought, “Maybe this will be a no. If it is, God will use it. It will be ok.” Either way, I’m grateful for how it keeps me dependent, hopeful, surrendered.

“I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” -C. S. Lewis

 

Related posts:

Ask for the Pony

What God Doesn’t Need Us to Tell Him

It’s Going to Be Okay

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