Whether you are working from home, homeschooling your kids, or an essential worker, we are all still sailing in these uncharted waters. For some of us, the waters are calm-- no sickness, finances are okay. For others, the waters are tossing us around. I am the former. Things are going okay, but for someone that sets out to accomplish something everyday, it's hard not to wake up and think about the million things I can "get done" when maybe my time is better spent serving, giving, and interceding in prayer. But, six weeks in, I don't really know what to pray. Everyday kind of feels like deja vu.
When I don't know what to pray, I often open Psalms and pray some of David's prayers. Josh's Nana told me many years ago that God really likes it when you pray his own word back to Him because it is already good. Psalm 19 was the chapter of choice:
1The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth.
7 The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 9 The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the Lord are firm, and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
I was really struck by verses 7-11.
- The law of the Lord is perfect, the statutes of the Lord make the simple people (like me) wise
-The ordinances of the Lord are sure, righteous, and more precious than gold
BY THEM, THE SERVANT IS WARNED; IN KEEPING THEM THERE IS GREAT REWARD.
When we ask God to go ahead of us, HE HAS. That's what His Law is. It is the roadmap to not falling into slavery of our own sins and fleshly desires. Unfortunately, sometimes even our prayers seek the satisfaction of our flesh before they seek the true path of God. Personally, when I have asked God to go ahead of me, what I really meant was make this easy. Knock down the things that make this scary or difficult for me. But if God answered that prayer, how would He show the world that He is God? The God I serve and the Christ that died for me have power that is made known by the seemingly impossible. How can I ask God to abandon the opportunity to show His might and to use my suffering as the saving of lost people just to just make it easy?
So when I ask God to go ahead of me, what does the law have to do with that? Before that question is answered, we must debunk a common lie that Christians believe:
That joining up with Jesus and becoming a Christian makes everything better and easier.
God. did. not. promise. that.
When we read Isaiah 54:17, God says "'no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,' declares the Lord." He said no weapon formed against you will prevail. He NEVER said they would stop making weapons. The world is out to attack those who have faith and the deeper we go with Jesus, the more weapons we should expect.
So if I can't control the weapons that are being formed against me, then the law is all about how I have the ability to knock myself off course. Verse 11 says "By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward." If we know evil is coming after us every day, following God's law is the way we don't wreck our own missions. Satan has tried to take many things from me, but his most successful tactic has always been the art of distraction during a trial. The days I see the weapons forming against me and rather than hitting my knees in prayer, I wander away from the path that I have asked God to walk before me and find some way to not think about it. It's tough to pray about something you refuse to think about. But let us not leave out the second half of verse 11: in keeping them there is great reward. If our anchor can hold, if our vision can stay clear, if we can see we are entering the Valley of the Shadow of Death knowing that no weapon formed against us will prevail, then we might actually stop asking for God to make it easier and start asking Isaiah 6:8, "Here I am Lord, Send Me!"
Satan would do anything in his power to make you believe that God's mission is a curse. He loves to attack a big commitment for the Lord with thoughts like God would make you do this? What kind of God would put you in harm's way? Surely a loving God wouldn't ask you do to that. Unfortunately, I have asked those questions and they all lead to taking my eye of the ball to self soothe. The kingdom of God needs people who are willing to be tough. To follow his commands even when life is confusing. We don't entice people to become Navy SEALS with brochures that say "Tons of fun!" In fact, those that choose the SEAL route are asked time and again if they are sure they want to continue. Satan asks us that. When the going gets tough, he's going to ask "Are you sure you want to keep going? Because right now, this is awful and you're following the rules and praying and staying faithful, but I see you hurting." Then the thing meant to take the edge off a tough day becomes your master. Now you're not even worried about the weapons of the world impaling you, you've sidelined yourself from God's mission.
When you open the Bible, consider yourself not only under God's provision, but warned of the things that aren't. This book is an instruction manual. If you want to hear God and have actual encounters with Him, read what He has already said and see how relevant it is today. If you are being tossed about in today's struggles, you will be ten times the soldier of God if you remember that God's law is the road map to both safety and sanctification.
Praying it over all of you today!