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24 October 2009

save me from myself?

This morning I set my coffee cup on top of a three-ring binder that was on a table in the den (or whatever the proper word is for that room). It wasn't one of those with the huge 2" or 3" spine, but there was an incline to it, so my coffee cup was sitting there at an angle. As I stood next to it and put my houseshoes on, I said a short, silent prayer: "Lord, please don't allow that coffee cup to fall." I knew that if it fell it would wake my daughter, who'd slept on the pull-out bed in the den thingy room.

It struck me pretty much instantly that if I do something that intentionally invokes the results of the law of gravity in a bad way, it's a little silly to ask God to adjust the laws of nature for a few minutes while I put my shoes on.

To be sure, I thought there was a pretty good chance that the coffee cup wouldn't slide off and crash to the floor. Otherwise I wouldn't have put it there. But I thought it was a pretty good insurance policy to ask God to take up the slack.

Here's where I think that we Christians are prone to take verses out of context. "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us." (1 John 5:14, NASB) Could I have confidence that God would hear my prayer and respond the way I asked Him to?

Maybe you've offered such prayers as, "Lord, I'm so late because I had to change clothes because I didn't like that other shirt. Please help me get there on time," or "Please don't let the computer lock up on me before I send this e-mail, even though I don't run antivirus software and haven't defragged in three years." Things like this and my goofy coffee-cup prayer are instances in which we ask God to take up the slack of our own stupidity or lack of planning and preparation.

I'm talking about the things that are obviously nuts, but it goes even deeper than this. Very often we will do things a certain way, out of the will of God or without so much as a thought about Christ, and then ask God to make the results turn out in an unlikely way.

If we've spent the whole day living outside of God's will, it's a misconception to think that He will wrap all of the day's events up in a way that glosses over our intentional wrong actions and say to us, "No problem. Well done, my good and faithful servant!"

Many times, praise God, He is merciful and gracious in these situations. But remember the resounding words of the psalmists and prophets like Jeremiah (I paraphrase from many different passages): I have been faithful to walk in Your ways, Lord. Please remember your servant and protect me from calamity and those who would harm me. (have a look at Psalm 58 and Psalm 91, for instance.) Looking at Scripture, I don't believe we can hope for the latter without having done the former.


Tony M said...

Yep, I think I do that, too. Thanks for pointing out yet another shortfall in my life. :)

Seriously, I have to agree; that whole "according to His will" part seems to be mentally skipped when referring to this verse.

I'd like to rephrase something you said, though: "Many times, praise God." That's it: turn the first four words into a statement. Then, maybe, if we're in the midst of praising God, that whole "according to His will" thing will simply fall into line.

Leroy said...

Welcome back, slacker. :) Oh, good words/reminder too.

Jeff said...

Hey Dean,
Sorry to hear you're struggling with time you need God to change the laws of gravity for you, call me. I'm pretty sure I can work something out with Him to accommodate your needs. Usually, the stuff I ask for is important enough for Him to come through in a pinch. It's all about the Spirit, you know. As long as I don't plan ahead and wait 'til the last minute, the Spirit can move and God can perform miracles in place of my sacrifice and good stewardship.

...look carefully for subtle sarcasm

Dean Lusk said...

Tony, glad I could oblige on the shortcomings thing. :-) I usually write about personal experience, unfortunately, so it obviously resonated with me. I like the way you rephrased the paragraph. I meant it that way. Not really, but I like the comma removal.

Leroy, I thought this would mark a retun to regular posting, but alas! I can barely even respond to comments in a timely fashion. Boo.

Jeff, "Usually, the stuff I ask for is important enough for Him to come through in a pinch." That made me chuckle audibly ("lol"). I was able to pick up on just a little bit of sarcasm. Was good that you clarified. :-)

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