Apparently I’m having a week where my mind says it is totally acceptable to lay before the world all my inadequacies and issues. Congrats, world. Or I’m sorry. Whichever.
Tonight at our Scotland meeting, my heart was drawn to pray for God to bring more campers. So I did. Like this-
“Please, God. Bring more campers. Puh-leeze! Seriously!! Please? Don’t you wanna? Puh-uh-leeze? Gosh, just please. Come on. Bring more campers.”
I read that back and it almost makes me laugh. Because it looks funnier than it sounds. It wasn’t funny at the time. I was begging. I was desperate. I was borderline frustrated.
My mind was immediately drawn back to a situation in my classroom. A student walked up and asked for a tissue using that same voice. Whiny. Unexpectant. Almost with an undertone of anticipated disappointment. I remember looking down at him and saying, with a laugh in my voice, “Stephen, why wouldn’t I want to give you a tissue? If you need one, I want you to have one. You don’t have to beg.”
And then in my heart I heard the same thing, as clearly as I’ve heard the Lord in a while.
Annie, you don’t have to beg.
I froze. And I thought. Yep, I almost consistently beg-pray. Sometimes we are called to beg God for situations and issues, but not like this. I ask God in a way that says, “I think I have to convince You to give, so maybe if I beg, that will convince You.” As if He doesn’t want to give. I pray with the perspective that the amount of begging I do equals the amount of giving He’ll do.
[Oh, I’m sorry, Martha, is that you again? I was afraid so. Work work work. Earn earn earn. Nothing is free. Everything has a cost. If you didn’t earn it, you don’t get it.]
LIES LIES LIES.
But, to give myself a little break, it is fair to say there are some things I have prayed for for a long time [things in the category of subjects I don’t blog about] that have felt like unanswered prayers. They have FELT like I was talking to a reluctant Giver. So I just adopted that way of praying- not anticipating an answer, but expecting to be sad. I have grown to ask out of deep hurt and frustration- “Are You going to answer THIS time, or not?”
Isn’t it sad the way the enemy creeps in and steals? Kills? Attempts to destroy? In moments like this, I am reminded that I am such a little sheep. Not near as tough as I look. Or as strong as I feel. Way more vulnerable than I believe.
God can’t always say yes, just like I as a teacher can’t always say yes. If Stephen had asked me for a tissue to eat for lunch, I would have said no. Not because tissues are bad, or because I’m not a giver, but because he doesn’t need to eat a tissue for lunch. Especially not on nugget day- Stephen loves the nuggets.
So I repented, there in the middle of our prayer meeting. And I asked God, for real, to give me a heart of flesh, replacing the heart of stone that has grown tough from one too many misunderstood answers to prayers.
Because I’ll be gut level honest with you. I have no ability to change my heart. I can work and muster and fight and claim and whatever, but I will not change my heart or my mindset by pure will. Trust me, if Martha here could, Martha here would. But I can’t. God has to take this heart and make it new. I want to know Him, and understand Him. And trust His heart. And believe every time that He is a giver. The Giver.
I hope you know that I really love Him. It’s not like I don’t. I mean, hello, I’m giving up my whole world and moving to Nashville as an act of love towards Him. But again, just like with the Martha stuff, we all have parts of our salvation we have to work out. Sometimes more than once.
This scripture came to life for me tonight. I pray it speaks to you, whatever you are working out.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 (this is The Message version)
“Don’t let the wise brag of their wisdom. Don’t let heroes brag of their exploits. Don’t let the rich brag of their riches. If you brag, brag of this and this only: That you understand and know Me. I’m God, and I act in loyal love. I do what’s right and set things right and fair, and delight in those who do the same things. These are my trademarks.“