If you happen to have it all together, then I congratulate you and ask for you to pardon me for what is written below. If you do not have it all together, then I hope you will be helped by a prayer I wrote this morning to our faithful and true Father. I love Him…but I still cannot comprehend Him.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” – Colossians 3:1-2
Today is one of those days where I feel compelled to be honest with You and myself. Let me first confess that I believe Your Word is absolutely true. I have staked my eternity on what You have preserved in Your Word as You inspired your prophets and disciples to write what You wanted us to know. I have ingested and trusted the words in my bible for over twenty-five years, and it has brought me great hope, power, joy, brokenness and wisdom more times than could possibly be counted. Jesus, the longer I walk with You the more challenging Your truth becomes. You burrow more deeply inside of me and take me to places that are uncomfortable and even frightening at times. You seem to always be asking me, “Do you trust Me, Jeff? Do you truly trust Me?” It is embarrassing for me to discover that I once assumed that it was simple to trust You because, in those days, You mercifully did not test me as deeply as You do now. Honestly, Lord, I sometimes miss those times when my faith more swiftly flowed from my lips with oiled ease. In the last few years, I have been more willing to be quiet because I don’t want to be one who casually quips about You to others with pre-packaged Christian clichés. You have brought me to a place where Your ways more often result in my sobered silence than my resounding roar. You’ve always had my mouth. Now you have my ear.
You are a trustworthy Shepherd but, I also confess, You are an extremely intimidating God.
You tell us to seek the things that are above, to set our minds on things that are above where You, Jesus, are enthroned. You also tell us not to focus on the horizontal, the things of this temporary realm. May I boldly ask You what others are hesitant to ask You? How do we accomplish this? How are we to consistently keep our focus off the horizontal elements of this life when You allow (cause?) them to remain stirred up, unordered, taxing, threatening, encroaching, confusing and unrelenting? I am not accusing, I am asking for sincere aid in knowing how to obey you in these things. How am I to achieve this call to never fixate on earthly things on a perpetual basis? You clearly believe me to be made of something different than I am aware of but, Father, I often find myself acutely distracted by the pressures and problems that are happening on this chaotic planet. Your Apostle Paul once wrote, ‘Who is sufficient for these things?’ I say, “Amen, Paul! Great question! It is clearly not me!”
Again, I confess that I do not doubt Your love in the slightest. I both know and feel that You are good…but I am completely humbled by Your mode of interacting with Your children. You allow for distressing circumstances and then call us to cultivate inner peace. You do not put an end to violence and terror but You command us not to be afraid. I am not the first or only of Your children to wrestle through these issues. Your prophet Habakkuk opened his writings by asking You repeatedly why You did not act in ways that made sense to Him – in ways that seemed to be more consistent with who You are. I hazard this opportunity to stand with that ancient preacher and humbly request some of the same answers that he requested from You. Simply put, Father, honesty compels me to confess that I am not as sure in my steps as I once was. Additionally, I am concluding that this is actually what You desire – am I wrong? Could it be that You ordain seasons wherein You want fewer and more cautious steps from Your believing children? Am I now learning to live out Isaiah 40:31 which shows the downward progress of the believer as moving from soaring on high to running on the ground unto an eventual walking? From soaring…to running…to walking?
Do You purpose to slow us down for Your glory?
If so, then I will take it by faith that You are accomplishing Your plan for my life. I just want to be transparent with You and say that I miss the flying aspect of my relationship with You. Today I am mourning the loss of the flight, and struggling with the reality that You want me to walk for a while – exhorting me to live as one who is undistracted by the horizontal even while I am bound to live here in it. It is clear that you prefer for us – You and me – to stroll rather than to soar. If that is the true plan, then I am simply seeking to know it so I can bring You glory by restraining myself from my instinctual impulse towards the takeoff.
Today, Holy Spirit, I purpose to obey the command to set my heart and mind on things above. I will go on high in my spirit even as I cannot experience those heights in my circumstances. Empower me to aim my heart towards that glorious throne whereupon Jesus, my love, is seated. Help me to live above the fray even as I must continue to endure within the fray. Help me remember that life is not a riddle to be solved, a problem to be fixed or a puzzle to be assembled. You leave us with plenty of question marks even as we are using all our might to bend them into exclamation points. We want answers and explanations and closure. You offer us instead promises, power and Presence. Today I am learning that, like many others, I am in a hurry to discover or create order on the horizontal plain. Today I hear You, Holy Spirit, calling me to experience the vertical – to look up and behold Jesus Christ. All I am saying is that I am willing to do so, but not altogether confident that I will succeed in this. I feel mugged by distraction from a thousand little things – it feels like assassination via paper-cut. With Your psalmist I say that it is good for me to be afflicted, lest I go astray. I can receive that much. I do not doubt you at all. I doubt me. I declare again with Paul, “There is nothing good in my flesh.” (Romans 7:18). I’m just confessing my embarrassing humanity and saying that I could use some breakthrough. Soon. And, yes, when I say soon, I remember to whom I am speaking. Your soon’s and suddenly’s look quite different than what we picture. I want breakthrough soon, but if there is a determined need for a divinely ordained delay, Jesus, please copy and paste what I have written here today and attach tomorrow’s date to it too.
I think it could be that I might need to pray it all over again in 24 hours.