“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Come rest awhile

A visitor at the prayer meeting who is young in the faith made this statement last night. “God doesn’t want us to keep praying for the same thing over and over again. I heard a preacher say that.”

My thoughts raced for the truth on that statement. It sounded kind of right, but also wrong. Christ told us to not use the kind of repetitive prayers as the heathen do. But, through the parable of the unjust judge, He also taught us tenacity in prayer. There the woman kept up her praying until the judge was pestered into doing something for her. “Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” (Lk. 18:5).

Jesus then turned to the lesson He sought to teach us. “Hear what the unjust judge saith.
And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?” (vs. 6-8).

Though He bear long with them. Why does He do it that way? Why must He? Does He love to see us begging Him? Does He just want to see us squirm? Does He enjoy watching over our misery? No, no parent requires groveling from his child. And neither does God, for we see in the parable’s dialog, that Christ contrasts the selfishness of the judge with God, inferring by assumption that God is pure, and selfless, and ready and waiting to be infinitely merciful to everything, from every person to every insect crawling on this big world.

Shall not God come to the rescue? The rhetorical answer is, Of course! “I tell you,” He continued, “that He will avenge them speedily.” (vs. 8).

But true to God’s never changing character, His mercy is tinctured with justness; His ever present desire is to purify His children. This is the eternal stamp of His method to sinners, and it was the mark of His workmanship even before sin. Grace and truth must forever and a day be blended, because love must have it that way. “It is the power of God” unto perfect development, and we are not perfectly happy unless we are growing and developing and accomplishing.

But is there a time to rest? To stand down from our pleas to God? Is it possible to implore God so long that our faith turns into doubt? Can we pray so hard that we are talking without listening? Can our insistence unwittingly corrupt prayer and turn it into something it wasn’t designed to be?

Like most children, my little daughter hated being cramped up in the car for long trips. So she would begin asking, “Are we there yet?” After our every combination of “No, but soon,” “No, but we have only ___ miles to go,” et cetera, she would get perturbed, and start asking in rapid fire fashion, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?...” She knew what the answer was and only wanted to vent her impatience. She wanted to get unbuckled, or get out of the car and go running around.

I understand that she was young and it’s hard for little ones to sit for long periods. And I felt for her. I didn’t like having to do the driving. But she wasn’t uncomfortable or hungry or thirsty. She just wanted to be unfettered, free to do whatever she wanted to do.

“Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?...” She was talking, not to have conversation. And my wife and I bore long with her. I thought it was kind of cute and interesting how selfishness manifests itself at such a young age. But I also recognized that Betania’s imprisonment in the car was good for her. Long trips only happened once in a while and would teach her to bear up under less than ideal situations later in life.

Yes, our prayers can be corrupted. Self is always seeking to be reinstated on the throne of our soul. Prayer is not an automatic key to depending on God. Multitudes around the world are taught to pray by rote. Every religion around the globe teaches their votives to pray without trying to have a child-to-parent relationship with God, but to conjure up self-made yearning for God to hear regarding some necessity.

But, self-made yearning God cannot reward. Some pray just to be seen by others; some pray to be admired by themselves, imagining how pious they must be. Many are the ways self-exaltation affects us.

All of these God must remove before He can come to our assistance. To give us what we ask for through selfish prayer would encourage us in self-centeredness. We would come to believe that we control God by our varied methods of manipulation. We would begin to see prayer as the means of moving God on our selfish terms, instead of His moving us through love, the “righteousness of faith” (Rom. 4:), which is His term.

So if He cannot immediately answer our beseeching Him, He must delay His help until He can work life to show us our true motives. This can take a while. Will we be patient? “Blessed is the man that waiteth for Him.” (Is. 30:18). Here’s where many abandon Him. Let it not be us; but let us be patient and trust Him to be on top of what we need. No sooner than the Holy Spirit has taught us to be humble and truly dependent on His love for our needs, Jesus’ promise of our Father is, “I tell you, that He will avenge them speedily.”


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