Road to Royalty – Prayer

Prayer

Although I didn’t know it, the answer to my prayer and the action for my dream had begun to reveal itself long before I knew that I needed it. In fact, the answer had been placed into my hands over the previous five months.

When I had returned to Cedarville University for the 2011 fall semester, I began to pray in a way I had never prayed before. Every week, a group of students would meet to sing, pray, and encourage each other in faith. During these meetings I discovered that prayer could be more than simply sending up a list of requests for things I needed or wanted. Most of the time was spent talking to God about Himself.

Besides this, several other things happened in this prayer meeting that were a little outside of my comfort zone. We would spend time listening to hear if God had anything He wanted to say, we would share our struggles with each other, and we would talk or sing in between. If somebody was sick, we prayed for him or her to get better. It didn’t matter if the prayer was only one line, ten minutes long, or complete silence.

For a long time I sat silently. Then I was the one line prayer guy. I felt awkward when we were supposed to listen for God to say something. I never really had anything to confess, and I became really jealous of the others’ ability to pray as if Jesus was actually there with us. When I prayed for a guy’s knee to get better and it did, I didn’t want to believe it.

What was I missing? I used to be really good at praying.

For many years, I had prided myself on the long, profound prayers that I had learned to pray. Each one had a magnificent structure and I would treat all prearranged requests from multiple angles. Surely God couldn’t help but grant what I asked for so eloquently.

After 2010, though, my prayers in public had completely vanished. I knew how to ask God for stuff, but I asked just like I would ask my friend: “Hey, can I have this?” So when I finally showed up at a prayer meeting with other people, I had nothing to say.

Fortunately, I was not the only one who didn’t really know how to pray. So the students who led the prayer meeting patiently guided me and several others through the adventure of prayer every time we met.

One of the leaders often prayed directly from Scripture, and I thought I would copy his model. After all, if it was good enough to be in the Bible, it was good enough for me to pray. But when the words actually came out of my mouth, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to pray them. My life wasn’t perfect, so there was no way I wanted to challenge God to “treat me as my actions deserve” (Psalm 7:3-8) like David did. I could never say, “I have left all to follow You” (Mark 10:28) like Jesus’ disciples did. I didn’t really care for other people to follow God, except that I was supposed to pray for it.

So prayer was rough. After all, I preferred reading books to talking with people. Now I had to talk with God instead of just reading about Him! But nobody minded that it was messy or that I didn’t know where I was going.

As the semester continued, I began to wonder if God might actually be trying to say something to me in the moments of silence. I still didn’t know how to hear if He was speaking. What was He supposed to sound like? If He was speaking, how was I supposed to hear? “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). This verse stuck in my mind as I wondered about this. I knew that God talked with people all through history, so why wouldn’t He still be communicating?

Ever since the all-nighter in China that I spent downloading music files and reading the Bible, I had wanted a relationship with God like His people enjoyed in the Bible. I had my Christian mountains and valleys like they did, but my relationship with God looked different in one significant way. God never interacted with me.

At times, I wondered if it could be different. I heard some people talk about God as if He was a real person. Others liked to pray – not because it is a good thing to do, but because they enjoyed it. I knew God heard and answered prayer, but even this part of our relationship was strictly one-sided. I would ask, and He would act. He never asked for me to act – unless I discovered that I needed to do something through my Bible reading.

Though I would never have admitted it to be true, I lived my faith as a practical deist. I believed God had set up Christianity, written the Bible and then left the story until His promised returned at the end of time to claim those that had the inanimate seal of the Holy Spirit. Until then, I had to make it on my own. Thus, even when I felt something special during worship or prayer, it communicated little more than “I’m here, I exist.”

I experienced this same feeling during a good song, at the happy ending of a movie, or the realization that a moment was absolutely perfect. I never tied all of this back to the idea that God is good and that every good thing comes from Him. My separation of the spiritual and physical realms kept me from recognizing God through these things. I did not realize that God speaks through all of creation (Psalm 19:1-4). Instead, if I thought too hard about it, I began to wonder if what I felt and began to identify as the presence of God was not just a psychological thrill.

Similarly, I wondered if those people who said they heard God speak were not just making up ideas to look cool.

As part of a wonderful community of believers in England, I showed up to Sunday morning church meetings where a line of people waited to share the truth that God had given them. For some, this meant describing a picture they envisioned, for others it meant reading a passage of scripture, for other still, it was a story of God’s grace in their lives. Sometimes the messages were for specific individuals, the whole church, or even a certain cross-section of the body. Before speaking, individuals had to receive approval from the church elders.

After awhile, I began to wonder if this practice was merely a charade. Having a ‘word’ to share was cool and it seemed like people were just making things up that sounded good. Whether or not they had heard this from God, I could not say. Everything the people said came from the Bible and made sense.

Even while judging the character of others, I made up several ‘words’ myself. Since I was too scared to share them, no one ever knew that I was cool too.

This naïve reaction was challenged one spring night when the college age young adults gathered for a weekly meeting. That night, one of the church elders was going to show us how to encourage each other through the gift of prophecy. In my mind, prophecy was one thing only: predicting the future. The book of revelation had been written with a warning not to add to the prophecy of the book. I did not plan to bring all those curses upon myself by trying to predict the future or adding to the words of God.

I didn’t understand that while prophecy is speaking truth from God, it finds its value in application Biblical principles to specific situations in a person’s life. It does not seek to add to the truth, but to apply the truth to the life of an individual or church. Even though it is not infallible like the Scripture, it requires attention to the voice of God, humility, and the boldness to share the message. The receiver should consider with prayer whether the prophecy lines up with the truth of Scripture and encourages them toward understanding God. I don’t know if this was explained then, but most of us had never used the gift of prophecy to encourage someone else, so an elder of the church was going to walk us through the steps.

First, we received sheets of paper. Each paper had a number written on it that matched the number on another sheet of paper. Then each of us would spend time in prayer and then write down whatever came to mind first: a picture, a verse, a word, a story, an idea – really anything that would encourage, comfort, or share God’s love with the other person.

I was one of the two people with the number 11 on his or her sheet of paper. The moving image I saw in my mind and wrote down was a train travelling through a dark tunnel. There was no light to be seen on either end. It was a long tunnel, but just around the corner from where the train was, a person could see a hint of light at the exit. For now though, the tunnel was pitch black because the train had no lights. Even though it couldn’t see, the train continued on guided by the rails on a safe path to its destination.

The application of this idea was to show that even when we don’t know what is going on around us, God places the track securely beneath our wheels. If we keep on moving forward, we can trust that He will take us where He wants us to go.  For the guy I gave this to, it encouraged him in a struggle he was having to see God’s direction for His life. He didn’t have to know all the answers, just stick to the track, trust, and keep moving forward.

His word for me is one that I still do not fully comprehend. I pasted the paper in my journal and have copied it here: “You are not my puppet, you are my child. I want to work with you, not control you. This is an adventure I want to share with you.”

Since receiving it, I have come to appreciate more fully the cooperative relationship that I have with my Creator. This life and our interaction is like a dance. This prophetic word as well as the one that I shared could both have been useful to anyone and could have also been made up by anyone, so I didn’t think too much about it.

Even though, I didn’t know if God was speaking to people, I did know that the students who had gathered that night left the meeting encouraged in our faith and knowing we were loved. I did not believe in the gift of prophecy, but began to wonder about the encouragement that had just taken place.

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Besides this, one other event happened before I joined the prayer meeting back at school in the fall. It made me wonder if God was communicating with me even though I didn’t really expect to hear anything.

One hot summer evening, I had enjoyed an extremely encouraging conversation and prayer with a man who lives the kind of life I hope to live some day. When it was over, I was supposed to attend the prayer meeting at my Baptist church, which was right next to his house. As I walked across the grass to where my church was meeting for prayer, I realized that I needed to talk with God about something – alone.

Unfortunately, I didn’t know what we needed to talk about, so I sat with my back against the church wall, looked up at the sky and waited. I tried to say a couple things, but found that words could not express my heart. In frustration, I asked the Holy Spirit to pray for me. I had read that He could pray for me when I didn’t know what to say (Romans 8:26-27). Then I began to speak.

What came out sounded a whole lot like baby talk. Some of it was in English, but all of it was my heart. Sitting in the peace that followed the emotional outburst, I began to write the lyrics of a song that answered the question I was struggling with.

Was that me? Was that something else? I didn’t know and didn’t really think about it – except for the irony that I had prayed with words I didn’t understand at a Baptist prayer meeting. Some say that this is a way to hear from God, but as of fall semester when I first tried to hear God speak, it had not happened again.

By then, I was scared that God might have given up trying to speak to me.

If I had ignored Him for this long, would He still be trying to get through? One of my friends suggested that I ask God to let me hear Him speak. So I did.

I said something like; “God I don’t know how to hear You, so I am going to listen and follow whatever You put into my mind and see what happens.” If He wanted to, God would make sure that what I heard or understood was His voice. I knew that it would be easier to hear if my heart was already focused on Him, so I tried this prayer whenever I thought I was in a good place spiritually.

Around November, I had just finished lunch with a friend in my college cafeteria. Like always, it was a blessing, and I had begun to pray and thank God for being God, like I was learning to pray. About 30 seconds later, I was halfway down the stairs in the student center when something happened that I still wonder at.

As I whispered, “God You are great” with my lips, a thought flashed through my mind saying, “I am great.” This worried me until the thought continued with Scripture, with truth about who God is and with the most wonderful reassurances of His love for me. I stopped at the bottom of the stairs wondering what had just happened. It was the first time I remember hearing God speak, but it would definitely not be the last.

Trying to understand what had just happened – and what continued – I wrote the following:

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I am trying to learn how to listen to God. I believe that He interacts with people on a regular basis, but they just don’t recognize it. Part of the blessing of being God’s son is that I get to talk with Him and do His work in other people’s lives.

I don’t quite know how this works yet. Sometimes I think I am just talking to myself and imagining it is God speaking. Other times, it seems like I am having a conversation. I could just be tricking myself toward a better way of thinking and attributing it to God somehow. I could, on the other hand have been communicating with God for years without actually recognizing it was Him. Until recently, this communication has been one-sided: me asking God for things. I always listened for something when I read the Bible, but never expected God to speak in a way other than leading me to a specific page, verse, or understanding of an idea.

Part of the difficulty with trying to hear God is that there are so many other voices calling for my attention: reason, family pressure, tradition, history, tendencies, and the list goes on and on. All of these voices speak into my mind in ways that I can hear, but not always recognize.

If God is speaking, I need to bring myself into a place where I can focus on Him and hear what He has to say over the noise of everything else.

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In order to learn how to detect the voice of God over all the others that constantly speak in my mind, I decided to practice listening by immediately acting on what I heard and testing the results. I would prove whether I was just imagining something or whether God was really able to direct my life in this way. One night I had just finished studying and was praying as I walked back to my dorm. I said, “God what do You want me to do?”

Immediately, I knew where I was supposed to go and what I was supposed to do there. I was going to sit at a certain table in the student center and love people.

Turning around, I headed to the table, sat down, and waited wondering what would happen. A few minutes later, I became friends with a guy who would become one of the strongest influences on my life as a Christian throughout the coming months. His friendship enabled me to understand the experience of love described in the previous chapter.

Right after this, a guy from one of my classes walked up to me looking for help on a paper he had to submit for our group project. He was completely lost, so I spent the next two hours completing the paper with him.

I tried this experiment several other times, and soon learned to distinguish what God was saying from what I was thinking, from what I knew I should think, from what others thought, and so on. I began to realize that praying without ceasing is an ongoing conversation about life, not a call to spend my life locked in a prayer closet or monastery.

Because I knew He cared to listen and actually had an opinion on what I was going through, I began to talk with God about everything. We discussed my business ideas, talked about other people (He always loved them even when I didn’t), the weather (He is a show-off sometimes), my exams (He never let me copy His answers), and even what I thought about Him. He didn’t mind that I got mad at Him or didn’t always live a perfect life. He just wanted to talk.

By December, I was beginning to look forward to the weekend prayer meetings that had been so challenging at the beginning of the semester. When I began to pray, it was often just what He was saying. I realized that I could pray entire Scripture passages that I didn’t know I knew. I began wanting to read the Bible to learn even more of them.

When my school opened a prayer room in January 2012, I found myself pulled into the room almost every night of the week. There was nowhere else I would rather be. I no longer questioned whether God spoke or whether I heard properly, I simply wanted to know when we would be able to talk next without interruption.

God and Money (January 24, 2012)

Last night was such fun! I never expected to use that kind of description for an evening spent in prayer. Nonetheless, for the past week I have been obsessed with praying. There is really nothing I want to do more than hang out and talk with God. Hearing Him speak back, learning more about Him and who I am is so refreshing. Sometimes I wonder if it would be best to just spend my entire life in prayer. There is so much joy and peace found in the presence and love of God that it is difficult to leave. I think I am in love!

Even writing this, my heart fills up with the kind of excitement that wouldn’t let me fall asleep for two hours last night. But this is only part of the reason I am so happy right now.

Tonight, for the first time in my life, I am free from the idol of wealth.

Without recognizing what happened, I let the American dream become the dominant driving passion in my life. The wisdom of a retirement account, of saving to live comfortably, and of investing in the future all made so much sense until I realized they were keeping me from trusting God. In fact, this dream had such hold of me that even in prayer, I could not say, “God take everything from me, let me go anywhere, or do anything for You.” I was too incredibly worried about how much money I would make, how I would make house payments, or how I would support a family.

I was worried about tomorrow and all the rest of the days of my life. If God couldn’t take care of me, I was prepared to take care of myself. I needed a career, I needed to start saving money now, and I couldn’t really give completely.

Last night, I began to pray against the hold of fear that this idol of wealth had on my life. I had intended to pray about careers, but realized my heart was in the wrong place. I had put more value on money than I had on God. I had placed my financial trust in myself. There was a corner of my heart made of gold that would not let me submit my future to Jesus.

After a fierce struggle, clinging to the desk and calling out for help, then falling on my face and giving up all the dreams I had, giving up the desire for wealth, and asking for Jesus’ love only, I felt the desire leave. I was free to go anywhere, do anything and love completely as I was no longer tied to my possessions.

All I needed was the love of God, the knowledge He would take care of me, and the promise of future rest. I do not have to worry about tomorrow, about caring for a family, or about retiring. I must be wise with the resources God gives me, but this does not mean hoarding them.

The cold steel sword that plucked the gold piece from my heart will have to return and do it all over again. I will have to give up my love of money, and recommit to serving Christ so many more times.

However, it is worth the perceived cost. In fact, it is really trading insecurity and nothing for security and everything. When I finally make a decision about what to do next, it will be based first on what it allows me to do in the Kingdom of God.

Immediately after praying this, I began to ask for freedom for the church at large. This is a prayer I had prayed on Sunday at the prayer meeting. In that prayer I had requested a transformation for the church, but did not realize I was a part of the church that needed the answer.

My prayer was interrupted when a friend, Mitch, walked up to me. Mitch is a guy I had seen a few times in the prayer room at Cedarville University. We had been introduced at a weekend prayer meeting and had hung out for lunch to talk about what God is doing in our lives. He was actually one of three friends I had asked to pray that I would trust God with everything a few nights before. He is a man with a vision for God’s Kingdom and a powerful prayer.

He wanted to speak a word from God into my life that was incredibly encouraging. Not only did it offer a vision for what God could do in the church, it also encouraged me not to worry about the role that I was going to play. His encouragement left both of us excited to see what God was going to do.

I think this may be the first of five times when God is going to verify to me that I am called to serve the western church. I don’t know why I asked for five when for years I have had a growing desire to see this church rise up to become the bride she was meant to be. It is interesting to see the promise of a beautiful future, but still have the part I will play obscured. I have been stressing out over how I am to share the story of what God has done in my life and how I can share His love with other people. Now I am content to patiently look for the opportunity.

I am coming to see that a relationship with God goes so far beyond just a wise lifestyle. Unfortunately, I am not sure what this looks like. I am in love with prayer and enjoy hanging out with my brothers and sisters like nothing else. My faith seems to still be a work in process that begins with a personal change and then spreads to others. I need to patient and let God begin to do a work and use me in it.

Waiting is not easy for me. However, “life is not about the right answers (or actions), but the right relationship” (Molly Reich). For the first time in my life, I have got that right.

It is not something I have done, but something God has called and continues to call me to (Romans 9:16). Even now my life is being shaped. Though I don’t know what it will become, I trust the One who is making me into His image (Romans 8:29).

Soul Confidence (January 26, 2012)

I am finally starting to fall behind on school. Instead of extra time to study, I have too little that remains after spending time with friends, completing my morning activities, and then praying in the evening. Unfortunately, I still have a lot of changing to do so I don’t know when I will begin to pray less. If I must be addicted to something, talking with God is not the worst option.

I think I am in a period of great change that I need to respond to. Immediately after giving up my American dream of wealth, ease, and comfort in favor of trusting God, I found myself on to the next step. It is well put in the New Testament that there are lusts of the flesh, lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life.

My current struggle is with the pride of life. Even though I have sacrificed the idol of wealth, I still hold dearly to the thought that I could be famous – the best in my career, an admired Christian, a well-respected person, or a professional with the power to accomplish great things. Even in the Kingdom of God, I view myself as an Christian who will accomplish great things.

Each of these achievements is based on self-confidence that causes me to be so scared of other people that I can never achieve them. Even if I do reach my goal in this way, I will do so in a way that I get the praise (Romans 4:4-5).

God wants me to have soul confidence. He wants me to find my value not in what I can do for Him, but in what He thinks of me. His desire of me is to seek Him (Matthew 6:33). When that becomes my only dream, then He will be able to do all the other things He has made me excited about. However, these dreams cannot be the goal or they will be elusive.

God must be the goal (James 4:2, 3). I haven’t quite been able to give up the pride of becoming something great (Philippians 2:5-8). But I have seen the trap that my dreams can become if I spend my life devoted to them instead of to God.

Knowing God (January 27, 2012)

I am trying not to get caught up with what God does as much as I get caught up in Who He is. It is just as difficult to keep from worshipping the worship experience instead of worshipping God through the experience, as it is to keep from worshipping the Bible instead of worshipping God through what it says.

In this road of faith, there are pitfalls on every side, but it is the simplest path to walk. For there is only one goal and one object of faith: Jesus Christ (Matthew 7:14). As I continue to walk toward Him with faith like a child who wants nothing more than to reach his father, He will make a level path before my feet (Jeremiah 31:9). I resolve that whatever experience surrounds me; I will fix my eyes on the author and perfector of my faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

Prayer is an excellent indicator of a person’s relationship with his God. If Jesus needed to pray so much that sometimes he pulled an all-nighter, what makes those who are not divine imagine that they can do fine without connecting with the Father? If I do not talk with God and listen to Him, how do I learn to hear His voice when life gets difficult?

Prayer is turning one’s heart toward God. He wants the heart, not the sacrifices of good works, great ambitions, and noble thoughts (Psalm 51:16-17). Whatever owns a person’s heart will dominate most of his or her time and thoughts.

Christians are called to pray, to live in the presence of God, to redeem the surrounding culture, and to bring the Kingdom into their little corner of the world. However, none of this can happen without a strong connection with God that comes through prayer. If Christians don’t know God, how can they represent God to those around them (Matthew 5:13)?

Love Song (February 2, 2012)

What Mitch said to me on Tuesday, last week, may already be coming true. That was the night when I gave up the American dream for something better: a God-sized dream that does not have me spend my life worshipping money and collecting earthly treasure out of fear that something bad might happen. It is a dream that requires trusting Him to provide for my family and I while focusing on carrying out the great commission around the world.

For probably the first time in my life, I can honestly say that money is no longer a driving force in the decisions that I make. I am now driven by love, to serve God and love others. My next goal is to sacrifice the idol of ambitious dreams for myself and become content to do whatever I am called to do. I have also begun to fight against the paralyzing fear of people that has so far prevented me from listening to God like I could be.

One of the things Mitch said to me was that people would begin to ask about the change that God had done in my life and I was not to worry about how to answer because the Holy Spirit would give me words to say (Mark 13:11). Since then, many of my friends have begun to talk to me about how I have changed since last fall and wonder what has happened. In response, I have been able to praise God for the work He is doing and encourage them to seek Him.

People are searching on this campus. They are searching for something to hold on to, to pursue, and to give them purpose and meaning. They are sick of a Christianity that requires them to maintain a façade of perfection while struggling inwardly with sin.

They need to know they are loved by God, not for what they have done or will do, but for what Jesus has done (Ephesians 2:8-9).

They need a restoration of their relationship with God that has turned into little more than a checklist. They need to pray. But in prayer, they must learn to listen, not just talk. Prayer is two-way communication that can be life-changing if it is approached with humility and expectation.

Many people know they need to pray, but find no joy in it because they do not realize that its purpose is to develop a relationship rather than input requests for certain outputs. I was the same way, but last semester I realized that God communicates with my heart through prayer and began to value my time with Him more than anything else. It is the part of my day I look forward to the most. It may be weird to say this, but I now pray for fun! It’s like hanging out with my best friend; who wouldn’t love that!

Wow, this year is only the first of an eternity of adventure into the heart of God. It is at the same time the most wonderful, terrible, scary, and peaceful thing I could imagine. It has become what drives me every day. What wakes me up in the morning and governs my relationships, thoughts, and actions. My growth rate has been very high for the past month, and I believe it can go still higher every day.

Destiny (February 3, 2012)

Back in January, I had a conversation with God that began with pacing and frustration as I fought to know what direction my life was about to go. I knew that I had chosen my career path based on the money it paid not necessarily on my interests, but I didn’t have the courage to approach this decision differently. As I prayed about who I was going to be when I graduated, God would not give me an answer. Continuing to think and pray through this pending decision, I heard the following.

“When I do not clearly speak, it is because I have already given you the tools you need to act.”

Direction is not determined by looking inside into the darkness, but by using the light that is already given to seek out a path. My decision of what to do with my life may not always lead me in the right direction the first time. I am human and must live with my fallen nature as all others. Faith improves my sight. Sometimes I am only given partial instructions that I must follow before I have the next step. My current instruction is to…

“Consider stewardship,” He said.

“The steward has a master. You are my master.”

“What is my goal with the world?”

“To draw all men to yourself (John 12:32).”

“A steward has skills, talents, and gifts.”

“To whom much is given, much is required.”

“What have I given you to accomplish my goal?”

“A mind, hands, heart…”

“What else do you need?”

“To give them to you.”

“How?”

“A steward does his masters bidding.”

“What have I bidden, Charles?”

“What will you have me do?”

“Anything? Will you do anything?”

“I don’t know. There is still something I fear to give up.”

“Do you trust me?”

“…”

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He had asked if I trusted Him enough to do anything that He asked me to. I replied honestly, “no.” Then I began to ask Him to teach me how. The week following this conversation, He freed me from the idol of wealth. The next week, I became free from the idol of ambition. Then, just about three weeks after this conversation, I was prepared to pass a final test of trust. If He asked again, I would be free to do anything.

I had just finished reading CS Lewis’ “The Last Battle,” and had an extremely clear picture in mind about the intersection of the spiritual and physical worlds. It was inspiring to read through The Chronicles of Narnia and draw many parallels between his fictional world and the one I live in. After I had finished reading, I felt that I wanted to pray instead of going to sleep.

At first I thought that was stupid. It was already one or two in the morning and I was attending an important conference about international business and missions that morning. However, I knelt on my pillow and began talking with God.

Immediately, I realized I was free from the idol of fear. For the first time in my life, my view of Heaven and earth made me completely unafraid of what other people might think or do toward me.

As this realization washed over me, I prayed, “Lord, with full recognition of what that means, I will (wow I can’t believe I can finally say this truthfully) do anything!” I said this a couple times because I was so happy that it was finally true. I didn’t expect to actually hear a response to this statement other than “cool,” but God likes to exceed my expectations.

While I silently repeated my willingness to do anything and thanked God for His goodness, a picture grew in my mind like the remnants of a memory. Actually, it seemed more like I had looked in on a theater stage where a show was taking place. A spotlight illuminated the center of the stage and on either side I could vaguely see some dusty objects. This is how I described it later:

Every other thing I would think on is blurry relative to this one thought that expands and grows on its own. I cannot stop thinking of it even if I try. It presses on my mind gently in a vivid picture and understanding. The knight on a horse holding a shining sword pointed toward the sky sits in a courtroom to defend and protect the innocent.

With this picture, I heard multiple times that I was to defend the helpless, the fatherless and the widow. I asked how. It was through my understanding of the institutions that oppressed them. Because I am not a very eloquent person, I asked why this was the way. It was so I could not take credit for the great things God did there like I could if I had the gift of eloquent speech.

I may be made for greatness, but it is not something I can pursue. In fact, I must give it up before I can achieve it.

I wanted to know why God had told me this, so I asked Him why now was the time for me to learn what I was to do. He said that now I knew my weakness and was ready to watch Him work. I have been given my nature and inclinations for a purpose. My heart is being prepared to know that purpose. My limitations will become God’s greatest assets as he uses me to speak truth. The image of God that I have is eternally too small. Though I understand something of who He is through the way He’s revealed Himself, His true nature is far beyond my imagination.

As I continued to pray about what I had just seen, I realized that the nagging thought of sleep was becoming less important. I had travelled to Indiana for a conference where I expected to find my ticket out of the country for when I graduated. Now, I realized that I was not going to be looking for a job overseas.

My career path was misdirected unless it allowed me to stay in the United States. My desire to go abroad was given to break the box I had kept God in. He used it to bring me to Him. My call is to America. My wish for adventures abroad may be a distraction. I must be content to stay here.

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Though the foundations of change were in process for much longer than I can imagine, the transition of change that took place in prayer took place over the period of about a month.

As I learned to listen and hear God’s voice, I began to understand His unchanging love for me. This love transformed the way that I thought about myself and set me free from the idols of wealth, ambition, and fear over the course of about three weeks.

During those three weeks, I enjoyed hours of prayer and fellowship alone and with other believers. I was obsessed. I had no obligation beyond my own pleasure and talking with God had no competition. This continued through the next month while God prepared me to face the world I had known before as a completely different person.


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