The last two weeks at church have been difficult. Normally we gather and then, when we’ve all arrived, we launch into worship but these Sundays our leader has done a mini-lesson on getting our heart right. I’d been frustrated at the first one and this week, I was so distracted by reviewing my week that I couldn’t immerse myself in worship at all.
Maybe it was because I believed I’d had a pretty good week, spiritually. I had been praying continually. Well maybe not all the time but far more than usual and doing on-the-spot drop-and-pray moments for any prayers requests. I conquered a big temptation with a chunk of scripture I memorized (it was still hard fought even after that but I managed). I also got an answer to something critical that’s been weighing on me. In God terms, it had been a better week than most.
Wasn’t that enough?
On Monday morning, I awoke, overtired but in a good mood. I was alone after everyone left for work and school and took the time for an extended worship. I was singing Hillsong’s “From the Inside Out” when I had a lightbulb moment.
It hadn’t been enough.
Sure enough, as I looked back through the week there were ok choices and ones that could have been better. And while I can sit here and say I’m not even remotely the person I was a few months ago (all changes to conforming better to being Christ-like), I’m not anywhere near to perfect. While that may sound harsh to you (“you’re doing the best that you can!”), the fact is I ASKED FOR THIS.
Be careful what you ask for….
You see, we’ve been studying the book of Daniel in our Monday night Bible study. Daniel was an Old Testament prophet that had visions or divine interpretations of dreams, some of events in his time, other of events that would come later, many dual prophecies and some of events seen from a different perspective by John in Revelation. He lived in Babylon in 600B.C. when the Jewish nation was in captivity. During his captivity, he’d been called on to help a Babylonian leader in his youth. Then, 70 years later, the Medo-Persian empire defeated Babylon, and those leaders called on him as well – when he was in his 90s – to work for them in a high position as he had done for the Babylonian king. He was their #3 person, after the king and co-regent. Naturally, the higher-ups around him DID NOT like that, so they dug around to find some dirt on him. I mean, for 70 years, from the time he was a teenager, he was a captive and in a position of power (although he probably retired at some point) so, there must be some dirt, right?
Nope. Nothing. They couldn’t find a thing on him. 70 years and the guy did not so much as steal a paper clip from the supply closet. Can you imagine? In fact, they had to devise a way to trap by getting the king to write a decree that stated no one could pray to anyone except the king. (Those crazy ancients all thought they were god, heh!) So when they did toss him in the lion’s den, it was for worshiping God. (Read the full story of how Daniel landed in the lion’s den – and what happened next in Daniel 6.)
I was totally blown away by this. Can you imagine any politician nowadays being so squeaky clean that someone would have to create a law to outlaw something good they do just to get dirt on them? Yea, me neither. It stayed with me, the thought of how pure Daniel chose to stay all those years. He was human and so, naturally, had sin, but it seemed like he was pure from willful sin. Crazy.
And I’m crazy too, because that’s what I prayed: to work towards being that pure. That’s insane -I must not have been in my right mind!
So here I am weeks later, listening to Hillsong sing:
In my heart, in my soul
I give you control
Consume me from the inside out
And then it occurred to me. I *hadn’t* done enough. I was vain and proud this week and that caused me pain. I had to scramble to read the Bible at the last minute to my kids while I made sure I had Candy Crush “relaxation” time. I shortened my morning worship routine to get to work, and rushed through night time prayers/scripture, just to get to my fiction book. There were other failings, too, and, yes, I needed to work through this stuff. Some of it requires a plan, like training my kids. Some of it just requires more focus, more attention to what’s important. Some of it requires me to do hard, unpleasant challenging things I don’t want to do or want to postpone. There’s a whole ocean, too, of selfishness that I need to start shoring up.
And that’s not all…
I’ve also been praying for my family to be saved, of course, and have been really mindful that I’m not quit doing enough here as well. I can’t answer all my husband’s questions -and I don’t want to, either. Not only do not have the answers at times, I can’t approach it from a man’s perspective and I don’t want to be the “All-God-All-the-Time” channel. (Internally, yes, but not putting it out so much it’s sickening to others. Be all things to all people, yea?)
And here is a MAJOR issue: my kids. I totally struggle with all kinds of teaching, especially teaching kids with disabilities. (Girls, can’t we just read together? PLEEEEASE? No??) But the dynamic of our church doesn’t really fit with my family’s needs and I’m feeling…I’m feeling like they should be with me, not at home eating leisurely breakfast on Sunday morning.
In the meanwhile, I’m feeling rather like I’m stepping into my own kind of lion’s den, making decisions that are uncomfortably stretching me. Is it what it is, it is what I asked for and I need some help facing my own lions.
Meanwhile, I encourage you NOT to be careful what you ask for, but to earnestly pray to God for that which you need and spiritual desires of your heart. Be prepared to do a difficult haul once you – but in this, God will be faithful and it will be worth it.