I’m a verbal processor. Frequently things come out of my mouth/fingers when I’m talking/writing to someone that had never occurred to me before. I often find myself listening to things I’m saying for the first time, and thinking “That’s interesting.” One such instance happened recently as I was praying for a friend of mine. In the middle of the prayer, I said this:
“Give him the courage to follow You with no promise but You as reward.”
I remember stopping and lifting my eyes. I stopped and wrote it down, realizing that I’d just prayed something for a brother that I desperately needed for myself. I strongly suspect God was being sneaky.
I am so not there right now. I know that I should be, but I’m not. That’s terrifying.
I am not content to give everything I have to follow Jesus with no guarantee of anything from Him but Jesus Himself. There are so many things I add to my list of requirements.
Friendship/Intimacy. I don’t have her anymore. No one to go home to and tell my day’s stories to. I don’t have anyone to share life with, to share space with. I’m not looking for a lover. My heart belongs to one woman. I just need people I can do life with. I need guys with whom I can wrestle through the difficulty of this season. Guys for whom the demands of career, family, kids, or other life activities hasn’t rendered genuine brotherhood an unrealistic drain of resources. I want to walk closely and intimately with other men who want to push me toward Jesus and want me to do the same. I need that.
Stability/Comfort. I’ve got nothing. I live in the corner of a friend’s basement. I drive a borrowed vehicle. I got fired from my last job because my boss was insane and thought the universe was telling her to protect herself from me. I need a job. But, I’m 44. Could the job be something that might conceivably be in an area of marketable skill for me? Could it be something that could possibly be construed as career potential? Could it be something that would build my portfolio? Something that would grow me as an artist? I feel like that’s all I really have. Do I have to go to work at Starbucks?
Restoration/Respect. I feel shame and guilt everywhere I go. I haven’t tried to hide what I’ve done. I guess it’s good that I don’t really know how to do that. But I feel the looks. It’s probably partly projection, but the behind-the-hand whispers are sometimes almost audible. “Poor Rick … If only he’d been able to resist temptation … He really screwed his life up … He’s so broken and needy … It’s sad, but he has no one to blame but himself … etc.” I feel the judgement. Not the kind that looks like wagged fingers and public condemnation. More the type that comes from withdrawn connections, less frequent phone calls, aborted weekly meeting commitments, and awkward silences. It’s a double edged-sword of shame and frustration. I feel frustrated that I can’t find the help I feel I need, while also feeling intense shame that I even need it in the first place. Can I ever be respected again? Can I be restored? Can I get back to that place of people looking at me and not pursing their lips and shaking their heads?
God, help me. I don’t value You above all else. I am not content to chase after You and leave You to fill in the blanks on everything else. There is so much I feel like I need that I insist that You bring with You in order for me to sign off on this whole “surrender” thing. I have to know that You’re going to meet my needs in ways that are sustainable and viable for me. I have to know that it’s going to be just a little bit about me. I have to know that You’re not going to lead me into even more uncomfortable waters. God, the level of pain and shame and fear and heartache is already at the point where I don’t know how to bear it. Please tell me You won’t give me more. Please tell me that from here on out, things will get easier. Please.
Even as I write that all out, I strongly suspect that Your Holy Spirit is praying something very different for me. It probably goes more like “Help Rick to see the mind-numbing value of what is being offered to him. Help him to see that when his Maker comes down and says ‘I want to provide personally for everything you will ever need,’ that it means more than any temporary fixes and fleeting hole-filling activities could ever hope to signify. Help Rick to understand that anything that You don’t offer and provide is something that will kill his soul instead of save it. Help him to rest in your ridiculous, nonsensical love for him, and to trust in Your completely sufficient mercy, grace, and provision. Right now, he’s not able to do that. Do it for him.”
Probably You should listen to His prayer instead of mine.