Praying is hard work. Anyone who tells you otherwise probably hasn’t spent much time doing it. I’ve found lately that I don’t know what to ask God for. I know what my heart desperately wants and yet I feel his finger on my lips as I take a breath in to ask him to allow my will to be done in situations I am facing. I know what I want but I have no idea what I need. I know what route will be easier but I don’t know if what’s easy now will make tomorrow unbearable. I know what will make me feel good but I don’t know if it will expand the gospel and the gospel is really what our hearts must be busy about, right?
I know that God’s heart longs to give me good gifts. What I don’t know is if my understanding of good and what actually is good, perfect, and right are the same thing. It’s like buying what you thought was an original piece of art only to find that the dealer duped you and what you have is actually worthless. Pretty, but lacking value. When I address my father I have to do it with the knowledge that he is all knowing and holds everything that alludes me in his hand. I am limited in so many ways.
I have often sought out God with a heart that wants only what it wants and nothing more. Not a heart that longs to see his will accomplished through me on this earth as it is currently being done in heaven. This is where you can cue the temper tantrum. But what if I understood that I don’t know what I don’t know and I was able to trust God in that. What if I truly believed that God is all knowing and all seeing and he has a plan greater than what I have set up in my mind? What if I’m just a small cog in the entire scheme?
He asks me to do hard things. As my Lord I cry out to him and confess that I am weary of the hard things. I would like some green pastures. Some restoration of soul. Phillip Keller said, “The Lord! But who is the Lord? What is His character? Does He have adequate credentials to be my shepherd – my manager – my owner? And if He does – how do I come under His control? In what way do I become the object of His concern and diligent care?” Because let’s be honest, a lot of times we feel the hard things that knock against our bones and hammer us with bruises and add deep slices into our soul. We break and yet we remain not so broken as to continue on down the path that feels a lot like the valley of the shadow of … maybe not death but, sickness and disease in our souls. How do we know that we are the object of his concern? How do we feel his protective hand amidst the cuts and bruises?
Keller continues, “Our view of Him is often too small – too cramped – too provincial – too human.” My view is often 100% human and because of that it’s so limited. But how do I learn to trust in his credentials as my Lord? “Now the beautiful relationship given to us repeatedly in Scripture between God and man are those of a father to his children and a shepherd to his sheep. These concepts were first conceived in the mind of God our Father. They were made possible and practical through the work of Christ. They are confirmed and made real in me through the agency of the gracious Holy Spirit…It links a lump of common clay to divine destiny – it means a mere mortal becomes a cherished object of divine diligence.”
And there it is. His character is constantly put before us in picturesque terms that we can relate to as human beings but also transcend the gap between mortal and divine. He loves us a father loves his child. No good father, no real father, acting with the character of a father’s heart would ever heap undo pain and unnecessary striving onto his child because of his great love for that child. No shepherd allows the wolves to eat his sheep because he’s too lazy or unfocused to fight the predator off. The sheep are his livelihood and the children are a father’s legacy. Our Lord has credentialed himself in a very loving way that transcends the gaps of heaven and earth. We can trust him because he loves us with a deep and endearing love that will push us to be stronger and better children who will go out and bring more kids home. Orphaned kids and lost sheep who are nothing more than street urchins. God wants them! Jesus died for them and the Holy Spirit seeks them and we are that tool.
These things don’t eliminate hard. They actually make life harder. But, when we begin to understand the heart of our father and the credentials of our Lord we are able to pray, even though sometimes it is still with great reluctance, “not my will but yours be done!”
I will always be inclined toward my own comfort and personal gain but I will fight for his will and his calling within me trusting that he knows so much more than I could ever know and his purpose has me wrapped up tightly and safely even when I don’t understand. When I cannot trace his hand, I will choose, with great effort and endurance, to trust his heart.