Focus on the Road Ahead
Have you ever asked God, “What do You want for my life?” With all sincerity, I wanted to know and I wanted to consider His thoughts. If I’m honest with myself, I varied in my desire to run after “it.” It sort of depended on whether I might like the answer or not.
I never did get a specific answer to this question. Other people do have clarity on their purpose and destiny from young ages. What a blessing! Meanwhile, life constantly moves forward. Options have presented themselves along the way. For me, it has been a wonderful adventure.
Even if I didn’t get an answer to my question directly, I have learned to ask questions of God and with God that do get answers. “Where do I start?” “What’s the first step?” “What’s the next step?” “What do you want me to do now with the options I have today?” Whether we want to be a full time professional evangelist one day, a physicist, teacher, businessperson, or full time parent, we still have to take college finals in our second semester of sophomore year to get to the next year, to get the degree, to get the first job, and then the next job, and so forth. As life continues forward, continue in the dialogue with God each step of the way.
Recognizing God’s, “Yes and Amen’s” to our prayers often happens around prayers of salvation. We know that if we ask God “Please let cousin George learn about you and see you for who you really are” that God wants this too. He wants to be known by all of mankind. So when our prayer request goes to heaven, God says, “Okay. I’m in agreement. Yes.” That puts God on the same side of the request wanting the same thing we do. We become partners at this point. Then God puts out several Action Plans on the heavenly White Board and begins to invite our loved one to get to know him. Our loved one can refuse to acknowledge God every day. But I believe each day brings a new invitation to get to know God for our loved one.
Because it is an invitation, our loved one may not respond to these invitations day after day. In the natural, it could be concluded that the answer to our request is “no,” because we see no change in the individual we are praying for. Of course, we don’t know what is going on in their head with all the questions and thoughts that may be coming to them.
We often judge God’s answers to prayer by the final results of a change. My view of God and the way He answers my prayers changed dramatically when I realized He had heard my request and wanted the same thing. With God as a partner, I knew with certainty that He was actively working on the situation. This brought great peace. With God developing a new way to introduce Himself every day, it was becoming a daily effort for my loved one to not think about God at some point during their day. With the awareness that God was working on my request, I didn’t need to say another word on the subject directly to the person. In time, they might ask a question. All I needed to do was love them.
God is at Work in all Things Photo by Benjamin Fiorello
Yes and Amen to Prayer photo by Aaron Burden
I found myself encouraging a friend the other day who thought she heard a “no” from God regarding her prayer request. Upon further inquiry, the request required a decision from another person. I asked her if it was possible that God has really said, “Yes?” The situation still required an individual at a school to approve a document under consideration.
I believe there are times when we pray and the answer is “Yes and Amen” from God. He has approved our request. Yet, we haven’t seen the answer come down the pike with a change in our circumstances. Why not? Because God has allowed an individual to respond. God may want something for us. He may be saying, “Yes and Amen.” But He may be allowing people to partner with Him and they may say, “no,” at least initially.
It doesn’t mean God isn’t powerful enough to “just make them do something.” It might mean that God is giving them an opportunity to cooperate with what is right, or what is best. If they don’t, then God is big enough to make a Plan B better than if Plan A had unfolded as originally requested.
He Makes Everything Beautiful
Photo by Pierce Brandley www.creationswap.com
Beyond every problem is an opportunity to learn a lesson. In 20/20 hindsight, we can look back and see things so clearly. Is there something to be done in the moment? Yes.
God is not surprised at what the problems are in our lives, even if we got ourselves into the predicament. He has solutions to every problem and He invites us to bring our cares to him, even if we missed the chance to do so at the beginning, or when things first go wrong, or when they go wrong again, or when they suddenly compound. We are welcome to take things to God at any, and every, point along the way. By doing so, we start to partner with God.
Some people talk to God daily, hourly. Some people talk to God only when there’s a crisis. It’s never too late to start the dialogue. One sentence prayers work as well as eloquent soliloquies. They Lord hears the heart. He never turns away a heart cry. So withere it’s a one word prayer of “HELP,” or a prayer that starts with, “Well Lord, here we are again. We haven’t talked in a long time, but there’s this issue…..” We immediately have God’s undivided attention. Let the dialogue begin.
Strength and peace
Last Tuesday night Healing Rooms was open. 4 teams of 2 prayed for 14 people over the course of 3 hours. We prayed for pains in legs that wouldn’t go away, broken hearts, past traumas, insomnia, businesses, irritable dispositions etc. Most nights we feel great joy watching people break free of their issues. But this night there was a weariness among some of the team toward the end of night. One team member offered a verse to rejuvenate our souls. It comes as a promise from Psalm 29:11
The LORD will give strength to His people;
The LORD will bless His people with peace.
That’s it. It’s that simple: strength and peace. The two gifts washed over us as we left. We left believing that the Lord will continue to answer the prayers long after the night ended. The stories people come back to share remind us of this truth.
Yesterday I started an organizing project. I had a friend come in who loves to organize and helps people sort through their piles and mounds to sort, file, and through away. The hardest part for me is learning to throw out. Often it’s little mementosCloset Photo or a birthday card from two years ago from a close friend, or a commencement brochure from a graduation ceremony. Lesson? Throw it all out.
I have new boxes and bins in my world as catch alls so it doesn’t clutter up the den. I know I love books. Perhaps I am attached to them. Too much? We live in a world where even libraries are trading in book shelves for CD’s, DVD’s and media shelves. I love a good book, and they are becoming more precious, not less. Nonetheless, I have to say good bye to some in order to make way for current projects, which need to fit on already crowded bookshelves. Project supplies and notebooks have been living on the floor for months without a place where they belong. So, Project Overhaul begins.
The one tip my organizing friend offered to help in the sorting process and with the book give-a-way decisions is to “Ask Holy Spirit.” She said to ask Him which books to keep and which ones to let go. To my quizzical look, she insisted, “Just try it.” Okay. Here goes: “Holy Spirit, which books should I keep? And which ones will I not miss or need? Please be in the middle of the process and give me your supernatural wisdom.”
Since I’m writing these posts for a class requirement as well as for the purpose of getting my spiritual thoughts out there, I will resort to a golf question. What is wrong with my chip shot these days?
I worked on my chipping game today at Shoreline. My drives are, currently, doing fine. Even my putting is okay. For putting, it’s ½ the back swing I think I need with a long follow through and it’s been working well for me. Even the middle game has been coming around by long wood shots landing somewhere on the fairway. From here, it should be “a chip and a put.” Instead, I have trouble getting on the green or overshooting the green. It’s very frustrating. “Hit with the ball closer to the back leg.” Okay. “Don’t help the ball by dipping down with your knees.” Okay. Still, it’s one in three that land and stay on the green.
Focus. I keep thinking of the people I’ve been working with that have become difficult people. I want to push them out of my mind. God keeps saying, “Give them to me, and I’ll deal with them.” True. But what if they tell another associate an untruth about the project? I could preempt it by calling over to that department first. I stroke through the ball. It arcs beautifully and sails past the green entirely. Too much power. A chance to try that shot again from the back side of the green. Focus. Finally, I give God the problems at work to hold while I try chipping the ball again. Ah. I’m on the green. Now, it’s just a put away.
I have been working with two people lately who happen to approve of the way things are going in our joint project. One person has an especially encouraging way of saying, “Well done, dear.” Hearing these words makes one feel very affirmed and warm all over on the inside.
All along I thought they approved of me. In the last few weeks I have learned they have not been laughing with me, but recording my comments and concerns to use against me. I thought I had new friends, but realized I did not. I let my guard down for approval and got walloped
When this happened, I found myself on my knees again asking God what happened. He reminded me that I never asked Him what His opinion of the project was. It was easier to let their approval drive everything. When their approval dried up, it hurt.
I now have a choice. I could go find another person or group of people to like and be liked by. I could believe another group could like me and many could fulfill this. Even before searching for a new group, I stopped and realized that I needed approval from God. God, are we okay? How am I doing with you? Are you
Approved, Hand in Hand with God
happy with me? Do you still love me?
The answer is yes. Yeah. Slowly peace starts to fill me from the inside. This is where approval belongs. First, checking in with God and hearing His voice say, “We’re good.” Now the day really begins. The project continues. The goals for the year get reconfirmed and the world steadies. From this position of steadiness, I’m ready to move forward with the approval of God. Partnering together on the questions in life, questions about the project, and questions about who to work with, we venture forth together.
Some changes in life are mere adjustments. Sometimes they are major. Throughout it all, God is unchanging. He promises to be with us. And He knows what is best for us. And he is making all things work together for good – somehow. This prayer came after listening to a sermon by a minister telling his congregation goodbye and moving to another geographic location to pastor a new church. He preached on change. I came home and sought God’s unchanging nature in the face of my changing life events.
New Direction, Crossing Over
Help me to let go of the known and move into the realm of the unknown
To let go fot he familiar and embrace the unfamiliar
Let me see the possibilities, and not just the risks
Loosen my hands around the good
Where you want to give me great
You are always with me, even in a changing world
You are bigger than my circumstances
You are the same today, tomorrow, and forever
Even as technology, nations and friendships evolve
Teach me to be satiated with your presence,
Rather than a fixed set of circumstances
You are mighty, whether I am weak or strong
It’s by your spirit, not by might, that your will happens
Lord, I trust you, I love your unchanging nature
You have been there already
This is a comfort as I move forward
Malachi 3:6 “I the LORD do not change.
So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.”
Have you ever felt like your prayers never get answered? It’s true. Some prayers have no answer. More often, it could be that we do not ask questions God can answer at this time. This web site is about learning to ask a different question, hopefully one that God can answer and the dialogue with God can continue in your prayer life.
Questions that start with “why” are most likely to go unanswered. For example, I may never learn why my mother struggled with her illnesses. So asking God, “Why?” did not get any answers. When I asked, “How do I cope with this?” or “What do you want me to do about this?” I got answers. Which doctor to call became clear. How to transport her to the doctors’ offices became a problem I could solve. Figuring out the medications and getting prescriptions filled at which pharmacies got accomplished.
Even if the God of the universe who knows everything doesn’t explain Himself when I want him to, it is possible to receive help in the moment in dealing with the issue.
For me, the lesson was to start asking prayers that started with “How” or “What” as well as asking the “why” questions from time to time. The “How” and “What” questions got answered very directly and quickly. Over time and in God’s perfect time, even some of the “why” questions have gotten answers.