Since October 2015, I have been wrestling with God. Not in some esoteric doctrinal crisis-of-faith way or a Jacob “give me your blessing” way but rather a “I cannot do what you’re asking of me” way. I don’t think it’s the first time it’s happened; hopefully, it will not be the last.
The reason for my struggle, of course, is not God but me. In fact, I prayed for this, and he has answered by giving me exactly what I asked—just not in the way I expected it (funny how it works that way nearly 100% of the time). In the coming weeks, I’ll be revealing what that prayer and answer were. The specifics are not vital to this post.
Today I am more interested in the strange duality we Christians oftentimes experience in our prayer lives. The dynamic works as follows:
- We pray to God for X;
- God answers, “yes”,
- but X is not something we can have, do, or experience alone.
- X requires not only faith but the active involvement of others.
- In the end, whatever X is, it’ll be clear that it came from God (and frankly, we don’t always like that).
Now what I’ve described above feels like the reaction of the layperson, but the more I speak to those in active ministry, the more I find that this is just the way it is. God may answer a given prayer outright—-you ask and bada-bing there it is—but more often than not, we see the above scenario play itself out over and over and over in our own lives and the lives of those to whom we are closest.
Once upon a time, I found this frustrating, but I’m seeing more of a beauty in the way God moves. I find that his approach is far better than what we might want or expect. See, God is just as interested in the means as the ends; in fact, one could argue that God moves so that the means enhance the ends. We can pray for God to do something for us, but it may be far more fruitful for him to show us how to do it ourselves. This is something we humans often forget to consider.
So, I’ve been wrestling with God. In the next few weeks, I’ll take definitive and decisive action based on his answering my prayers months ago. He’s already teaching me through it by answering it in a way I did not want but should have wholly expected. And that’s a beautiful thing.
More to come; thanks for reading,