It's not what I have[.] It's what I have to give. A blog about resources--gaining, giving, and sharing.

08 June 2011

Grateful, Yet Burdened – A Deeper Look into Our Heart

6:17 AM Posted by steve flores , 5 comments
“Can you worship a God who isn’t obligated to explain His actions to you?  Could it be your arrogance that makes you think God owes you an explanation?” –Francis Chan, Crazy Love

January 2011, while snow was falling, Nat and I were sitting in bed having a discussion about safety, protection and God’s will.  Before we fell asleep, I prayed for her.  Before I prayed, I reached out to Facebook friends to pray for her also.  I was nervous and anxious about her driving to work the next morning in the snow and ice.  I’m a bit of a worry-wart.  She was strangely calm and at peace.  I wanted to say, “Have you seen what’s falling out there?!  Why are you so calm about it?  You’re the one about to drive in it!  You’re supposed to be worried like me!” 

Here’s what I prayed, “Lord, protect her while she drives.  Let her arrive safely there and back home.  Not only protect her, but allow the crazy drivers to stay away from her!  Not a scratch on her or the vehicle.  Amen.”  I wanted safety for my wife.  I wanted protection for her.  And, I’m sure that was God’s will.

After that prayer, Nat said something that got under my skin, yet I knew she was right.  It saddened my heart then.  Even now, my heart is heavy as I reflect. 

Nat asked in a soft, inquisitive, genuine tone, “Babe, what if God’s will was that I not make it home tomorrow?  What if God could receive more recognition in my death than in my life?  Let’s pray God’s will.” 

As the man of faith in my home, I responded, “You don’t think God would want you to be home with us?”  It’s a difficult truth to swallow as someone you love says those words with such confidence and assurance.  She was right.  I didn’t like it.  I still don’t, but she was and is right. 

Nat continued, “I don’t know what God’s will is, but we are where we are, right now, because we have decided to follow God, no matter how difficult it is.  I don’t want to start praying against God’s will, now.  Our plans can’t be better than His.”

So, that night we decided to follow Jesus’ model for prayer.  “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Maybe, like me, you’ve read over that prayer without thinking of its implications.  But, as snow was falling from outside our bedroom window, my wife and I talked about the possibility of death and then surrendered her life to God’s will.  It was one of the most difficult decisions we’ve made and one of the most gut-wrenching prayers I’ve ever prayed.  I said the words, but barely slept as I wrestled with the reality of that prayer.  That night, I gave my wife, my daughter, and my life away.  Something I should have done a long time ago.  I grieved.  I cried.  I let go.  And, I’m still practicing letting go.

I don’t completely know what Jesus experienced as He prayed in Gethsemane, but I imagine the night He prayed so intensely that sweat dropped like blood, He faced the reality of giving up His life.  He knew His purpose, He knew the outcome, but this was the moment of surrender.  The disciples could sleep, but Jesus couldn’t.  The reality of surrendering my wife’s life to God’s will kept me awake, too.  And with hesitancy in Jesus’ voice, three times He prayed this, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”  Ultimately, He resigned His life to God’s will.  The outcome was death on a cross, but Jesus died long before the cross.  He died at Gethsemane.

Nat and I decided in difficulty, in great joy, in hardship, and in favor, we want God’s will.  We want Him to be shown in our life, despite our circumstances.  With great fear I type this, we want God’s will for our life.  I have to convince myself of this often: His will is better than mine.  We’ve resigned to this prayer: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”  Many people have disagreed with us on this prayer, because to others it feels like we’ve given up faith in difficult circumstances.  I don’t think we’ve given up faith; we’ve given up self to make way for faith.  We don’t want to pray against God’s will.  Just because things didn’t turn out like we planned, doesn’t mean God isn’t in it.  Not all open doors are God’s will.  A persecution-free, hardship-free life is not scriptural.  The first followers of Jesus Christ, the disciples, chose a life of surrender filled with indescribable inconveniences.

In my previous blog post, I asked, “Have you thought about inconveniences being the will of God?”  The thought of my wife not with me is a major inconvenience.  That’s not how I would have written our story.  It reminds me of the courage and testimony of my friend, Guy Delcambre (click on his name for the story).  What if there was no positive spin, no adequate conclusion, or no answer to “why” for the inconveniences?  Paul, in 1st Corinthians, writes, For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.”  Amidst questions, do you trust?  Are you willing to surrender, not just pray a prayer of surrender, but actually surrender all you hold dear?  If you mean it, it’s not a simple prayer.  Trade your dreams, your goals, your family, your life, for God’s will—however uncertain you are of it.  As you die to self, there will be mourning. 

January 9th, 2011, I died to my ideas and best-laid plans and gave way to God’s will, with the encouragement from the Supernatural strength of my wife.  And the paradox of scripture?  Only in death will we ever, truly live.  Are you ready to live (die)?

Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”  
– James 4:15 (ESV)