Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A conversation...

We look around and realize that things aren't what they should be.
A light bulb goes off. I know what I will do! I will pray!!

God, things are pretty bad out there.
Yes, they are.
There's crime and injustice. There's fear and messed up relationships. Lots of problems. God, please fix everything. Amen. Good night! Over and out.

Time passes.

God, why didn't you fix things?
Ahhh! Well, ...
Yes, I'm listening!
Good! You want things to be made better?
You want my kingdom to be expressed on earth like it is in heaven?
Yes! Yes!
You want my will to be done on earth?
Yes! Yes! Yes!
Good! That's what you are there for!
Did you think everything would just 'appear' so your life could be perfect, so everything would be a utopia?
Well, I knew I should pray, and then I just thought that would solve everything.
Remember when Jesus said “You are the salt of the earth”?
Yes, but...
And that “You are the light of the world”?
Salt works when it gets out where it is needed. Light works when it shines in darkness.
Hmmm. So praying isn't the answer?
Well, no that's not what I said.
OK, so fill me in. How is prayer useful if I have to be salt and light? That sounds like it all depends on me!
Remember where James says that “You don't have because you don't ask, or because you ask wrongly”?
Well, your prayers can be very useful IF...
If what?
If you pray with the right purpose and understanding.
Huh? Sorry Lord, I don't think I get it.
OK. If you are the one to cause my kingdom to come and my will to be done ...
Then pray for wisdom in how to bring that about. Remember, James also said, “If you need wisdom, ask God, and He will give it to you.” So, ask me for wisdom.
Wisdom is good.
And discernment.
Discernment? What about?
Discernment to see what part of the job is yours.
You mean, it isn't all up to me?
No, of course not. That's what the rest of the family is for! That's why you all have different abilities.
And different interests.
And different people around you that you can influence.
So, if you were a steel worker, building a bridge, I'd expect you to do your job well, setting a good example, building the best bridge possible.
But I wouldn't expect you to find a cure for poverty.
Or, if you were a school teacher ...
Oh, that one's easy. You'd want me to teach all the kids to love you.
Well, ultimately that is true. But you'd need to start by loving the kids the way I do, even the obnoxious ones. I'd want you to instill a sense of honesty and fairplay, a thirst for both knowledge, and the wisdom to use it, and the ability to be great citizens of my kingdom. You see, this kingdom takes time to build, as the generations march on.
Hmmm. In some ways it sounds easy, and yet it looks like it won't come over night.
No, it won't. Reread the stories about my kingdom that Jesus told. Several of them compare the kingdom to seeds which take time to grow. One time He talked about the kingdom being like yeast which takes time to permeate the whole loaf. I kind of like the word 'infiltrate' because it infers a gradual penetration. Do you see my point?
Good! Now back to you. If you were a musician, ..
I could write beautiful songs of worship.
Yes, you could, and I would be blessed.
But ...
Worship songs have a somewhat limited audience.
You mean ...
It's kind of like when the salt stays in the shaker, or the light stays under a basket. It enjoys being in its safe, familiar environment, ...
But it doesn't bring much saltiness or light into the places where the need is.
You're getting it! So, you could write songs that encourage people to make a difference. To feed the hungry, to be humble with each other, to give instead of just take in their relationships. You know, infiltrate people's minds and hearts with the principles of the kingdom.

I think I get the idea of praying for discernment bit. Is there anything else I should be praying for?
Sure! Remember the early church? The book of Acts mentions a few things they prayed for.
Things like boldness, and opportunities, and even power, right?
Yes. Remember when Jesus told his disciples to wait for my Spirit?
He said wait until, right?
And then what? Were they to remain in the upper room forever, praying, worshiping, hearing good sermons?
Well, no. I suppose when the promised power came, they were allowed to leave.
Not just allowed, but encouraged! This brings us back to your mission! Go! Cause my kingdom to come. Make a difference. Multiply yourself, so that there are even more people helping bring my kingdom.
Oh, and since you seem to like writing ...

In fact, I expect you know where that interest and ability comes from, don't you?
Yes, although sometimes, it sure doesn't seem very, well, effective, or powerful, or ...
That's OK. That's another aspect of the prayers that you pray. I give you the ability, you pray for good ways to use that ability, ...
Ultimately, you leave the results up to me. Like you said earlier, the kingdom doesn't come over night. Your effectiveness may not be seen immediately. There are lots of examples in history. The abolition of slavery in Britain, for example. There were many years of prayer, work, and influence before it came about. But is the world a better place? Was it worth it?
Of course!
So it is with anything I lead you to do. Be faithful and patient. Salt works slowly; even the light of dawn takes time to dispel the darkness of night. So, keep thinking, praying, writing. Don't despise the day of small beginnings.
Yes, Lord!

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