Saturday, September 08, 2012

Keep on Asking

I received a plea yesterday, from a sweet friend.  It broke my heart and I could relate to every word she spoke.  "I am tired of waiting," was what resonated most.  Oh.  How I tire of waiting.  Especially when I feel distanced from the LORD while doing so.  It is what stretches us most.  It's what causes faith to rise the highest.  Silence.

As soon as I read her note, this devotion came to mind.  It is one of my favorites from, "At His Feet," by Chris Tiegreen.  I reference it here often.  It is one of my highest recommendations.  If you love a little daily nugget to ponder, to chew one, to encourage you, challenge you, inspire you... Get it!

So here it is.  It is for my friend.  It is for me.  It is for everyone who has ever knocked on the door and been left waiting.

"Ask and it shall be given to you."   Luke 11:9

IN WORD   Jesus has just finished a curious parable about a man banging persistently at his neighbor's door in the middle of the night, asking for an inordinate amount of bread.  This is prayer, Jesus says.  It doesn't matter if the hour is inappropriate, the request is large, and the initial answer is no. True prayer means desperation outweighs protocol.  

Some translations capture the continuous nature of this verse.  Jesus implied to his disciples they are to keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking; then they will receive.  We don't know why persistence is required; Jesus doesn't tell us that.  But the fact that it is required is clear. Prayer calls for boldness and relentlessness.

If you are like most people, you pray about a matter for a while.  Then, not having heard from God, you give up, assuming it wasn't His will to answer.  But nowhere in the Bible are we told that God's silence means "no".  In fact, Jesus demonstrates to a Caananite woman that His silence means, "keep on asking." (Matthew 15:22-28)  Scripture never gives us permission to drop a request because we got no immediate answer.  We are to have a no ceasing attitude to our prayers. (I Thessalonians 5:17)  If God wants to show us our prayers are unscriptural or out of line with His will, He will show us.  If He wants to say "no," He will actually say it.  Silence is not "no."

IN DEED  Often, our prayers are characterized by tentativeness and transience.  They are not confident declarations of His will in a situation and expectant invitations for Him to RSVP in power.  While we should always be open for Him to redirect our prayers, or even to say "no," we should never assume that a slow answer, by our standards, is a non-answer, Jesus never gives us a hint that God is rejecting us in His silence.  Like the farmer who waits for his harvest, we are to wait for His answers.  Jesus is clear: Keep on asking!  (November 9, "At His Feet," by Chris Tiegreen)

It is amazing how this one devotion speaks to me each year.  I have notes on this page/prayer from 2009, 2010, and 2011.  All three of them are about Abby's healing.  I have been praying for her healing since 2003.  This year, I will record my fourth note/prayer on this page, and it, again, will be about Abby's healing.  Nine years of prayers.  Nine years of tears.  Nine years of crying out. Nine years of knocking, seeking, praying, asking, begging, fasting, striving, laying down.... growing... stretching... and nine years of His presence in all of it.  She has been healed in several ways... but we pray for complete healing and we believe He is a God who heals... completely.  And so we pray and we wait... we believe... and we wait.  We praise and we wait.  

November is a stellar month in this devotion.  I believe it was November when I purchased it.  I had several in hand I was trying to decide on.  So I decided to read that days devotion in all of them and see if one spoke to me. Well... it smacked me upside the head!  And it has been doing so since.

There is another one that goes right along with "Keep on Asking," and it is from November 26, "A Place of Insufficiency."  And since they go so hand in hand... and this post is for my sweet friend, as well as a reminder to myself, I have to include it.

"What is impossible with men is possible with God." Luke 18:27

IN WORD   We almost get the impression sometimes that when something is impossible for us but necessary or fruitful for God's kingdom, He'll step in and help us out, perhaps a little reluctantly.  He becomes our "God of the gaps"-- He makes up the difference when we just don't have the strength.  But in the back of our minds, we think He'd prefer that we have the strength.

Nothing can be further from the truth.  God is not reluctant about our impossibilities.  He relishes them.  He sometimes even waits until we arrive at them before He acts.  Just as it was Paul's weakness that allowed God to show His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9), it is our powerlessness that demonstrates His power.  If we were self-sufficient in everything, no one would ever see God.

In today's verse, the disciples were astounded when Jesus says it is difficult for the rich to inherit salvation.  They wonder, who then, can be saved?  But why is it so difficult for the rich to be saved?  Since we are all saved the same way, through faith in Jesus, what makes it harder for the rich?  A sense of self-sufficiency.  It is an obstacle to God's work in any one's life.  In laying down this principle of salvation, Jesus is giving us a principle in any work--- it must be all from God and not all from us.

IN DEED   Are you at a place of insufficiency?  Don't despair.  It may feel as if God wasn't watching or caring for you when you arrived there.  But not only was He watching, He planned it!  He brought you there because it is the only place where He can step in an work and be acknowledged as the power behind your victories.  If you were not completely unable to meet your own needs, you would receive credit for fulfilling them.  He had to bring you face to face with your inabilities in order to bring you face to face with His abilities.  You are exactly where He wants you to be.

Complete weakness and dependence will always be the occasion for the Spirit of God to manifest His power.  Oswald Chambers~

It is so very hard to remove ourselves from the culture that saturates us with the false need and false sense of self-sufficiency.  I am so smacked with this anytime I hear of a healthy, active 30 year old dropping dead.  I have seen it several times and it is always a sober reminder that we are NOT SELF SUFFICIENT in anything!  Our very lives can be gone in a moment.  The stock market can tank tomorrow and fortunes, savings and futures can disappear in a moment. Another terrorist attack can happen and we can be quickly reminded that even our sense of safety can be oh so false.  

We are not in control.  We are not at the steering wheel.  We can do nothing alone.  He has given us the very blessing of awaking today.  He has given us the very breath we breathe.  He has it...all of it.  ALL of it. 

It is so hard to look at life with our spiritual eyes and not our physical.  Satan saturates us with the physical to dull and blind and distract our spiritual vision.  He is the master of that.  I can not tell you how many times something can be explained in the spiritual reality versus the physical reality and someone will say, "I never saw it that way!"  Oh how true that is.

Stay focused sweet friend... friends... myself!  See clearly with spiritual eyes and be discerning with the physical.  Rebuke the lies that Satan yells at you daily and declare truth in their place.  And know that the LORD is your warrior... and He is with you every step of the way in this life!  And the victory is ours through Christ Jesus... because He loves us THAT MUCH!

Much love, Dawn