Do you guys relate to that feeling? I know I do.
As a teenager, I told Him He could have all of me (except my dating relationships). I applied His truth when I felt like it, and if I didn’t, then it was ignored. I thought I could make God in MY image, but if He was, He wouldn’t be God! I was constantly praying and rarely reading His Word.
See, the thing about that is, a prayer submitted to God is a good thing, but if we’re not careful, it can become this long “Christmas list” to Santa rather than an actual prayer to God. We ought to pray, “Thy will be done,” just as the Lord modeled for us, both in His instruction of how we should pray and in His own prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.
I believe that’s a huge part of what Western Christianity has done wrong. There’s so much focus on the Christian – even the songs are full of “I” and “me” statements – and not enough focus on the Lord and Savior of our souls.
I have to admit, I’ve contributed to the problem.
I recently watched a video that was compiled for a “Day to Pray for the Persecuted Churches” (or something of that nature… I don’t remember the specific wording), and one of the things someone said was, “You will pray for our safety… but we want you to pray that we will stand through the persecution. That we will be unwavering in our faith.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed for safety, for my friends or loved ones, knowing full well that God calls us to uncomfortable, painful, and dangerous things!
Jonah to Ninevah, a violent nation. Hosea to Gomer, the unfaithful prostitute. David to King Saul’s courts. Jeremiah to a people whose hearts were set as stone against God. The first-century church was called to death by crucifixion, being torn through streets, lit on fire!
We prioritize the wrong things. We want safety and comfort, but He wants holiness. We need to start praying for the right things.
Jesus calls us to lay our lives down. He doesn’t want just part of it. In fact, when He was confronted with people making excuses, He repeatedly stressed that giving PART of ourselves over wasn’t going to cut it. Every dark, disgusting corner of our minds and hearts, He wants into. He’s gonna clean it up – and yes – it’s going to be painful. But it will also be worthwhile.
Besides, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36)
When I finally did hear Him loud and clear, I handed Him over control of my relationships… but I was in the middle of one. One that certainly wasn’t glorifying Him in any sense of the word. I broke things off with him, and stood my ground when he tried to change my mind. It was incredibly painful – for everyone involved – but it was also necessary. The Lord had some things to teach me about His care for me. I was missing out on knowing the full scope of His loving kindness, because I chose to do things my own insecure way. I was immodest, jealous, quick to anger, and very easily hurt/depressed. I didn’t feel assured of ANYONE’S love… because I hadn’t given Him the chance to show me.
It was weird… that year, I didn’t date anyone at all, and though it was one of the loneliest seasons of my life, it was also one of the most comforting. I learned that Jesus heard me, even when no one else did. I knew He cared, even when it seemed no one else did. I learned to lean on Him and He became my best Friend and Comforter.
I wouldn’t trade that year of pain for anything.
So I’m trying to remember this lesson in my prayers for myself and for others.
“Lord, make us more like You. Refine us – make us holy. Let us grow in You… and if we have to experience pain in order to do it, Your will be done.”