What do you pray for?
What do you care about?
These two questions have been floating in my head for the past couple of months.
I’ve noticed that life in the Western world revolves around maintaining a certain lifestyle. We’re so used to certain comforts that we fill our lives with the means necessary to attain them. Then we spend whatever time is remaining enjoying and maintaining those comforts.
Our lives are so full, brimming to the top and over with activities, commitments, and plans. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m not against a house with a full fridge, AC in the summer, and heating in the winter. I’m not against driving a nice car and having nice things at all.
But I do remember that Jesus said “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” And then again “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”
It’s never a bad time to reevaluate our priorities in life.
What was Bethlehem’s greatest fault?
It was that when it was time for the Savior of the world to be born, Bethlehem had no room for Him. All the inns were brimming over with business and all of the inn keepers turned a pregnant woman and a scared husband away.
How about your life?
Is there room in your life for Christ to come in?
Is there room in your heart for the people that God crosses your paths with?
Is there room in your schedule to meet with the younger generation and disciple them?
Is there room in your home for the traveling evangelist, the road weary missionary and the homeless?
Is there room at your table for the hungry?
Is there room around the proverbial fire of fellowship in your home for the lonely and the awkward?
We chase this vision of perfection so ardently that we make no allowance for the reality of the brokenness and the pain of life. We are shocked when we hear about murders, injustice, and unlawfulness in our nation but are we willing to go beyond social media activism?
In the Band of Brothers, a mini-series about the Allied paratroopers that fought in World War 2, there’s this heartbreaking scene where this young battle scarred soldier calls curses down the defeated German troops passing by him. “How dare you interrupt our lives and bring us halfway around the world to fight your war?!” He screams. “And for what??!” [liberty of paraphrasing applied]. This war had stolen years of his life and had killed most of his friends. Can you fault the young man for his bitterness, who had given up Harvard, his youth, and his friends for the brutalities of war?
And yet no great victory has ever been won without great sacrifice.
The Christian life, on the other hand, in its core, is the given life. When you come to Christ, it’s an exchange. Your sin for His righteousness. Your blame for His acquittal. Your life for His.
Is that our true reality?
Can God interrupt your life?
Can He interrupt your five year plans, your life goals, and your dreams?
Is He allowed to have plans that differ from yours?
Can God send you out on the front lines of prayer and have you spend years of your life praying prayers that may take a lifetime to be answered? Or may even only be answered in the lives of your children?
An old preacher spent most of his life praying for three friends. One came to Christ early in their youth. The other came to Christ in the midlife years. And the last one, the final friend for whom the old preacher prayed for the longest came to Christ the day of the preacher’s funeral. What a picture of perseverance.
Do we persevere in prayer? Will we pray prayers that will change the world?
Often times our prayers are directly correlated with our focus.
We are so bogged down with the cares of this world – with payments and projects and renovations and the next Apple product – that we rarely lift our eyes anymore. We don’t lift our eyes to the deep seated presence of sin in our culture and how it’s tearing the very fabric of American society. And when we do, we’re so overwhelmed that we quickly return to our tunnel vision. What if instead of medicating reality away, we deal with the despair, anger, and discomfort of having our eyes open to the ugliness of sin?
What if this pain is the very thing that lifts our eyes to the hills to seek the help of the Lord of heaven and earth?
When we shy away from the issues in our world, we diminish the power of God to redeem and directly work in the seemingly impossible.
We’ve so bought into the future that Hollywood presents to us – a future rife with apocalypse, evil AI’s, aliens coming to destroy, the surety of coming doom, of foreign terrorists killing our leaders that we forget that GOD EXISTS.
And if we truly believe that God exists, then all these tales and suppositions and presuppositions of the secular world melt away in the reality that God is, God is supreme, and God is present. No obstacle, individually or collectively, is greater than God.
Our future is not hopeless. Our future is not what the intelligencia predicts. Our future is NOT in the hands of a corrupt powerful few. Our future always was and will forever be in the hands of a powerful loving God who controls the tides of time, who raises rulers up and brings them down, and who will win the final war.
Our president is not our Savior. Jesus is.
Congress is not our hope. Jesus is.
The White House is not our seat of power. The throne whereupon God sits in heaven is.
Harnessing social media is not our power. The Holy Spirit is.
Popular culture is not truth. The Gospel is.
Never forget this Christian. No matter how dark or how bleak this world becomes – God is.
So pray for this world. Lift up your head from your screen and rise from your couch. Fall to your knees and bring this broken bleeding world before him. Plead for Him to step in and offer your life as an instrument of redemption in His hands. And watch Christian, watch Him step into the storm and speak peace. Watch Him redeem. Watch Him restore. Watch Him rebuild. Watch Him win.
I’ll end with a final story.
“At another time, two Salvation Army officers set out to found a new work, only to meet with failure and opposition. Frustrated and tired they appealed to the General to close the rescue mission. General Booth sent back a telegram with two words on it, “TRY TEARS.” They followed his advice and they witnessed a mighty revival.
During the course of William Booths ministry, he traveled 5,000,000 miles and preached 60,000 sermons. God help us in this desperate and distracted day in which we live to heed the General’s advice. ‘Work as if everything depended upon your work, and pray as if everything depended upon your prayer’” (Source).