Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Shift In Perspective

I've never written an entry like the one that is about to unfold, but I figure what the heck? You're all my friends, and will hopefully still love me anyway if I dabble a little into religion. I'd like to say first-off that those that know me well know that I am an advocate of tolerance. Among my closest family members and friends I see proclamations of atheism, agnosticism, devout Christianity, Buddhism, questioning, and the "I don't give a rat's ass" attitude. All of these I respect in each of you. My faith has been a journey of ups and downs too, particularly within the last year and most extremely in the past month.

So here is the shift that has taken place in my perspective (which I do not proclaim to be the truth, as I am a human and have limited understanding): God has the power to intervene in whatever He wants to do in your life and in this world. However, He is not going to do it. God is not mean and He has not purposefully given you, me, or anyone else woe; He grieves with us when we grieve, and He provides comfort to us in times of sorrow and trial. He does not make a habit of providing miracles, however, and praying for them is counterproductive. I think of all of the times that I have made "prayer request" lists at Bible study meetings, presented my own requests to the Lord, or told friends that I would pray for their specific need (i.e. God please change this-and-this situation..please! please!). I think of it now as a waste of time. Whoa! This sounds extremely cynical and borne out of anger, but I promise it is not coming from an angry heart. It's not even really coming from a disappointed heart. What it's coming from is a personal epiphany that, although God loves me dearly and wants to be in communication and relation with me, He is not going to work miracles in my life, small or large, simply because I ask him to. People will make the argument to me about the such-and-such time that God cured a disease or God helped their football team win or God did a "God-thing" that only God can do. Maybe. That's a big maybe to me. What I really believe it is is a fluke of nature. Sometimes things spontaneously remit in nature, sometimes it hits some random thing and flies some random direction and perfection is created...but that doesn't mean that it's a "miracle" that God bestowed on us. Like the Robert Griffin 3 pass in the OU-Baylor game a few weeks ago that hit off a defender's hand and sailed 40 yards downfield perfectly into the arms of a waiting receiver that was NEVER the intended target but then ran on down for a beautiful and fluky touchdown, sometimes crazy stuff happens! Cool when it does! But I'm not going to spend my time praying for it because I don't think God willed it to happen.

Do I think that God is able to intervene in all things? Absolutely. I just believe He is less willing to do so than I formerly envisioned Him to be.

Do I think that prayer is thus a waste of time? Heck no! If I thought that the only benefits of prayer were for the answering of my prayer requests, what kind of follower would I be? I believe that huge benefits come from a person choosing to engage with God in communication. God can provide untold amounts of peace, comfort, wisdom, enlightenment, happiness, and self-control. Simply spending time with Him in earnest can bring these things to your life and mine through Him, and I see the benefit of asking Him to bestow those same kinds of comforts onto friends and loved ones who are grieving as well.

All of this to say, if you are my friend and you present me with prayer requests, I will tell you sincerely now that I will not pray for your situation to change because I have no faith that God is going to make that happen. I believe God is there for you though, and I will commit to praying for you that you might experience His peace and comfort as you struggle with your trial, because THAT I believe He will do. I don't know why God doesn't intervene more, but I don't believe it's because He doesn't care. And I will NEVER believe it is "His will" that something horrible has happened in your life, so you will never hear me say that, friend. God does not have a plan, in my opinion, that involves 18-year-old girls dying in car accidents, wars killing loved ones, or hideous diseases robbing us of our faculties.

Enough then. So how many of you have issues with me now? =)

6 comments:

  1. These last few years have been so hard for my family and for the families of my loved ones. A year and a half ago my dearly loved Uncle Cris was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. He is dying. Period, and we are just given the rest of his life on earth to enjoy him. We have all prayed God heal him, but I believe Gods answer is not this time. I love you but I have something else planed. God is still today the same God he was since the begining of time. Nothing has changed. I believe he still works miricles. But God isn't a wish Genie. God give me this, God do this, God do that. Like any parent He isn't going to give us everything we want. How would we grow, how would we learn. Granted I don't know why things happen and why somethings don't happen. I don't understand why my dearly beloved Uncle has to dye. But I have faith and hope to trust God in all things even the bad things. I have first hand seen miricles happen through prayer. They were not just flukes. But I have seen things happen diffrently than what I prayed. And I know if God had just given me what I prayed for I would not be where I am and who I am today. Prayer isn't just asking God for things, and I think too many people think that is why we should pray...to get stuff. Prayer is a relationship. It's a conversation. I talk to Christ in all things, I shout at Him when I am angry, I celebrate with him in good, I come to Him when I am lost, I talk with Him all day. He is my constant companion. I have been so angry with Him. And that's ok, its what we with ourselves after the anger and Syria.g the anger that matters. I was suppose to have a baby girl and instead I gave birth t o Noah. I was crushed, my baby girl was taken from me and it felt like at the time my child had died and I was given a replacement. I remember sitting in the nursury, after we had gotten rid of all the girl decor asking why God, why? And He asked me " Will you still love me? Will you love him? Even though things didn't turn out like you thought, will you pick yourself up from this and carry on." It checked me. When Josh was applying for a job in Oklahoma we knew PDRX was where God was telling us to go, but taking this job ment a big cut in pay, a much smaller house, no benifits through the company and less time with each other as a family. I remember shutting myself in the closet and screaming It's not suppose to be this way...its not suppose to be this way...."Trust me" has been my answer through all of this. So we are...are things hard..yes...do I understand why...no...will I ever understand why...probably not...but I have to keep trusting Him, having faith that it is going to be ok. That just because things aren't what I wanted He knows what is best and I need to trust Him. So I will continue to lift up my prayeres and Trust God in the rest. It's been years since I have seen you in person Jenny but I still consider you a close friend, I love as family. My heart grieves with you in hard times and rejoices in the good. I support you in all things and I will continue to pray Gods will in all things. God loves you so much.

    ReplyDelete
  2. No issues at all. I think the best thing we can pray for is peace, wisdom and comfort, which I always include.

    Much love to you, Jenny. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Jenny, your post made me think of this song--do you know it? (You have to listen closely to hear all the lyrics.)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9EzeW5KoPUI
    Life can be sad and the world can be so broken that having faith is hard. I appreciate your expression of this.
    (Rachel K.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Am I really going to be able to Post this?...everytime I try to post on people's blogs it tells me I have to sign in with google then it automatically enters my husbands information and then I can never figure out how to change it. SO this must be a "God Thing." Just Kidding Jenny.

    So I would like to say that I am very glad you wrote this post and it was great to hear your honesty about the subject. This is something that has been a long time internal discussion for me, especially listening in church to prayer requests for this and that and somethings sounding so trivial to me. Why would God care whether you bought the ford or the lexus? Come on people.

    Anyway I don't agree with you and I don't disagree with you because I just don't know. But my thought lately is just to pray that I Pray for what God wants. I pray for people that ask because I care about them, not because I expect my prayers to get answered.

    Anyway, good seeing you. And always thank you for your thoughts!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Not sure what you are going through that made you post, but I’m glad you did. I will pray for happiness for you. :) Not sure if you are going through something specific or your friends, but I thought some Bible verses would help.

    You say God has the power to intervene but, He isn’t going to do it. Sure He will, but how many of us are doing our part? Matthew 25:15 says, “To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability.” If you want a job, you are still going to have to get out there and apply for one. Hoping for a boss to walk onto your doorstep with a 6-figure job is just stupid to think God will give you something that you won’t even try for or are capable of handling.

    God can and will answer prayer requests.. However, it might not be on your time schedule or the answer you wanted. And, sometimes Him “not” answering is what you needed. He knows what we need and when we need it, and that can make for angry humans. :) That doesn’t mean we should stop praying. As you said, He wants us to be in communication with Him and let our desires be known.

    Yes, miracles don’t happen as often as we want them to, but they still happen. If they happened at our whim, it wouldn’t be a miracle. I do agree that sometimes people are just way out of left field, especially when the situation is brought upon themselves by their own stupidity. God is a just god.

    Of course God willed your football team to have the crazy stuff happen.. He created humor, laughter, joy, shock and awe.. Don’t you think He wants you to experience these things too?

    I feel bad that you don’t want to pray for people’s specific situations. For me, if someone feels safe and secure enough to come to me with their personal prayer request, I could not imagine telling them that, “I will not pray for your situation to change because I have no faith that God is going to make that happen.” If someone told me that, I would cry and probably never talk to them again.. I would at a minimum not open up to them ever again. I have had people come with really sad prayer requests, too, and I think you can pray for change, but you can also say, “Lord, I know this is in your hands, and I know your will always works for good for your children.” (Romans 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”) People have to remember though that the answer we get is not always the answer we wanted.

    And I know you really won’t want to hear this, but nothing happens on earth without God’s permission. We may not understand why, and maybe we aren’t supposed to. I think a lot of people turn away from God when something bad happens because they don’t get this. Isaiah 55:8 says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.” What we have to understand is our human bodies are temporary, and our soul is permanent. We can’t see or understand why here on earth, but in death we will when we meet our Father.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey Jenny-
    I read your post last night and I've been thinking about it ever since. I love your honesty and seeking spirit. As someone who has certainly prayed for miracles in my life I have to say I think you're on to something. I think mainly what you're saying is that we Christians tend to pray - and maybe mostly pray, I don't know - for the circumstances in our life to change. Whether it's about a health problem, financial, relational, etc. We're suffering, afraid, worried, and we want God to change our circumstances. But I think God is mainly interested in changing US. He has so many good gifts to offer us...but we keep focusing on that miracle of intervention we so desperately want. I think it's interesting that in the two places in the New Testament where we have literal examples of Jesus praying - The Lord's Prayer and John 17 - he never asks for miracles or interventions. Here's a question I've wondered about. Do you think some of the ways we pray are uniquely born out of our Western culture? We're so used to "health, wealth, & happiness" that when it doesn't happen we feel God has not come through for us and we entreat him to do so. Oh well, maybe that's another subject altogether. Keep up your thinking. It's good for all of us.

    ReplyDelete