Have you ever asked yourself: Who am I and where do I belong? or Sure I sin by accident, but what about when I do it intentionally? or Is there really anything I can do about the worldwide or communitywide crisis de jour? Last weekend I had a series of dreams that revealed some powerful truths to me. It doesn’t matter whether you believe these dreams were God-given or if it was just my subconscious working out some things in my sleep—what came from the experience is, without doubt, Godly wisdom.
I can't look for my identity in other people. I’ve found that some of the greatest/cheesiest romantic lines in movie history really are true of God alone. Some examples: "You complete me" and "he saved me in every way a person can be saved" and "you are everything I never knew I always wanted." I've looked to so many people in my life—family, friends, boyfriends, husbands, even my son to complete me, make me whole, to give me an identity. I had to learn the hard way that my identity can only be defined by the One who created me and he created me to be a child of the Living God. I am his precious daughter, his creation, the one he went to the cross for and rose from the dead for and the one in whom his Spirit resides today. When I'm lost and confused or trying to figure out what I am supposed to be doing—I just need to remind myself of who I am in Christ and ask myself, "What would a daughter of the King do in this situation" and then go do it. If I look to those around me to fill that God-sized role in my life, I'm going to find myself wandering around lost and confused and empty.
Sure I sin by accident, but what about when I do it intentionally?
Becoming a child of God doesn't make everything suddenly clear. I didn’t become instantly good or wise and I’m still going to sin. Sometimes in full deliberate willfulness, I will turn from God for no other reason than I want what I want. In the moments of conviction and repentance that follow, I tend to approach God guilt-ridden in a debasing display hoping my repentant return might elicit some small amount of God’s grace, even though I’m assured that God is anxiously waiting to welcome me into his open arms as his beloved child with an inexhaustible grace. The only decision that needs to be made in this exchange between a holy God and a repentant sinner is am I going to fall into his arms and embrace the grace and love in which he greets me or am I going to hold myself accountable by trying to redeem myself with acts of contrition in order to earn the grace God has given me freely through his own act of redemption on the cross. I can never earn that grace and yet I sometimes fall into a self-righteous trap by feeling that I must somehow work for it or suffer for my sinfulness instead of humbly accepting this immediate and truly undeserved gift and then reciprocating to it in gratitude and joy.
Prayer is the most powerful and pervasive tool and weapon on earth. There is no place prayer cannot go and no limit to God's power. There is no radar or tracking system that can detect it and the enemy has no defense against it. And yet, too often we don't think to use it because, well, it's just prayer. It's not like we are actually doing anything when we pray, right?! It's not like we're giving money towards solving the problem or using our skills to fix the situation with our own hands. Somewhere along the line of human history, we began to believe the enemy's lie that words are just words and they hold no power—like "sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me." As one who has overcome decades of verbal abuse and having some experience with physical abuse, I can tell you—I would've preferred to be hit by sticks and stones. Those wounds and bruises would've disappeared in a few weeks. The wounds and bruises from "mere" words festered inside of me, eating away at me like cancer, for forty years. Words hurt and words can heal. With a word, God created light, the world, and all that lives and breathes. Words are powerful and we need to be more careful how we use them. When we use them in prayer, we are asking our Heavenly Father to utter words of healing, protection, wisdom, truth, and grace. And God will not deny our requests. I'm not saying that God doesn't call us to be good stewards of his riches by monetarily supporting the causes he has put on our hearts or by using the skills he has enabled us with to help those around us. I'm saying that prayer is just as active a response and even more necessary than our gifts of money, time, talents and skills to live our lives as God wants us to live—in communion with him according to his will and in godly relationship with those around us.