Monday, January 31, 2011

Listening and believing

I've been intending to write this post for a while, but as a friend (and another blogger) said, it's sometimes easier to write about the less deep stuff about life than the real things going on in our hearts. And I apologize for the vagueness of this post but I don't want to be specific about this area of life I'm talking about.

Not that I need another blog to follow, but I've started reading Stuff Christians Like, which is hilarious (readers from my hometown church should read this post about "scooting"). Anyway, Jon Acuff writes a serious post about once a week that usually hits home for me. Last week he wrote about finishing what we didn't start, i.e. trying to take over for God because we think He had a good start but He needs our help to fix it or finish it. Please go read his full post because I can't do it justice here.

As I read the post, I knew I was guilty of doing the same thing. Over the last six months or so, I've been saying to God, "Thank You so much for bringing me to this city, You definitely got the place right, but I'm just going to fix this one area where You seemed to have dropped the ball."

So I've tried to do a lot to change certain circumstances but am met with defeat every single time. And I realized around the holidays that I was doing something and then asking God to bless it, rather than asking God what I should do in the first place.

At the women's retreat I went to in November, the speaker challenged us to spend 30 days praying and listening to God about one specific area of life. I want to be clear that I'm not giving God a deadline. He can change anything in a moment, and He waits because His timing is perfect. The 30 days thing is more about me taking time to really focus on this area of life and listen for God.

And guess what? He is speaking to me in so many ways that I might not have recognized if I wasn't spending time to focus on Him and praying over this area of life.

One of those ways is through the sermons at my church. We are in the middle of a sermon series on the Gospel of John, and the pastors spent three weeks on the story of Lazarus. The question they answer every week is, "How does God dwell with us?" Over those three weeks the answers were "by reframing our expectations" (seriously thought the pastor was saying my name, this hit so close to home), "by entering our grief," and "by breaking the bonds of unbelief."

The sermons were all excellent, and I could easily write on the first one, but I actually want to talk about the third one: God breaking the bonds of our unbelief.

One of the points was that we don't expect much or anything from God. I've been going through Beth Moore's Believing God with a group of girls, and it's been a challenging and convicting study. There are five statements of faith, we say each time we meet, and the one I struggle with the most is: "God can do what He says He can do." I fall into the trap of believing what God says in the Bible but not believing He can still act in the same way He did.

As I've wrestled with this and been challenged to fully believe it, I realize I've made it more about myself than about God. I feel like the burden of proof is on me, not God. One of the points the pastor made in the sermon about unbelief is that God's actions are not contingent on our belief. Martha even said just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead: "Lord by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." But Jesus opens the tomb and raises Lazarus from the dead anyway. What a relief!

Don't get me wrong, I want to shed my unbelief and believe God for big things, even "bigger, sooner" as my Beth Moore group has talked about. But it's so comforting to know that God is not going to hide His glory from me because of my unbelief. The pastor challenged us to ask ourselves the question, "How is my unbelief keeping me from seeing God's glory?"

So my prayer is frequently, "I believe, but help my unbelief." I've already been blessed over the last month in the ways God has spoken to me, and I am starting to more fully believe He wants to show me His glory and wow me with the way He has already handled these circumstances I'm praying over. But that means I can't try to finish the job. It's baby steps but I'm learning to listen for His voice before I act.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post. I find this such a strange place to be. On the one hand, it is wonderful and encouraging to know all of these things. On the other hand, it is difficult to face and admit that they are not active in your life AND that you want them to be. This is sort of how I am feeling about a lot of things right now. I'm right in the middle and can see the good and bad sides.

    You were busy while we were gone! Love the posts!