Sunday, February 3, 2013

When I am weak

I was reading in a devotional book just recently and it quoted Ole Hallesby when talking about prayer: "Prayer and helplessness are inseparable. Only those who are helpless can truly pray . . . . Your helplessness is your best prayer." 

I've been around people who think that "coming boldly before the throne of grace" (Heb. 4:16) means to come brazenly. They think that prayer is all about getting what they want by manipulating God into doing it, that it's their right as children to get whatever they ask for if only they'll believe strongly enough. 

If my child wanted an AK47, and boldly asked for it, it wouldn't matter how much that child wheedled, cried, threw tantrums, or kept me up nights asking for it - I would not give my child such an instrument of death. I use this merely as an example using "hyperbole" - an extreme exaggeration.

At some point, each of us must realize that there are some things that we don't know, and that God does. He sees the end from the beginning; we don't. So it's best to ASK. Not demand, not throw Christian tantrums, not flail around and yell, or do whatever it is we do to try to twist God's arm. 

We are the powerless ones. He has all power. He is Large and In Charge - and there is not one thing that we can do for ourselves. Not One Thing. 

It is when we realize and accept our own helplessness, our own inability to change the outcome, that we can approach God with the right attitude. 

Often, we pray and ask God for some desired outcome and He takes us through something we never would have wanted to bring us to ... not only that outcome, but better than we had ever dreamed. Since He is eternal and lives in the eternal "now" - He can see both sides of the door; we only see the one ... until AFTER we go through it and see the other side (and remember what the other side was like).  

Image "Sleeping Infant" by Dynamite Imagery
courtesy of
It's very much like the age-old paradox of free will and predestination, which I see as the door through which we are invited, through our choice, to come into relationship with Him. On that side of the door, written on the lintel, is "Whosoever will." When we make the choice and walk through that door, we can look back on it and see that the writing over the other side is different: "Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world." It is not contradictory; it is complimentary.

A lot of things are like that in the Christian life. Lose your life to gain it. Give and it will be given to you. Happy are you if you mourn. 

However, it's the reality of our helplessness that is at the crux of it. God is intensely drawn to the desperation that arises in our hearts when we are convinced of our own powerlessness, when we realize that there is nothing at all that we can do, that He holds all the cards. When we call out to Him in our weakness, that is when He can demonstrate His strength. If we try to rely on our own limited resources and depend on our own human machinations, it doesn't work. Letting go is the only way for His power to show up in us and for us in ways that will simply amaze us and cause us to give Him all the credit, spur us to deep gratitude and a deep desire to please Him.

He is the source, the substance, and the satisfaction of all those desires.

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