Thursday, July 7, 2005
My friend and I sat in her kitchen separated by a length of table and a generation…yet in that moment, our lives didn’t seem all that different. There we sat, two woman desiring God’s will for our lives and yet desiring what we desired, and fighting to submit and be content. As we talked, she related to me a recent struggle with an attraction to a somewhat older, and also single man.
“I have prayed about it,” she said, “and asked the Lord if this isn’t of Him to take it away.”
I had prayed that prayer before, too…many times.
“I don’t know if God answers prayers like that.” I said. “It has never been my experience that He removes things which require us to stand and obey…which eventually build our faith and character. In fact, it has been my experience that He puts them there and leaves them there on purpose.”
After a pause, she admitted she tended to agree. We talked about the motive of a prayer like that…how it is purely selfish and does not glorify the Lord at all. We want it easy. But if the Lord removed all fleeting emotions and temptations to sin, how would our faith mature and grow? We would be a weak and pathetic people, indeed.
I left feeling like I’d done something good for my friend by helping her fix her eyes on the tester rather than the test, and remove a bit more of herself out of this area of her life.
Little did I know I was being set up for my own test.
A few days later I was faced with a reality. I was shown that my estimation of a situation was what I believed it wasn't. It made me feel very much like Alice's cat, Dinah, as she listened to Alice explain her idea of a perfect world:
"Everything would be what it isn't and contrarywise, what it is it wouldn't be and what it wouldn't be it would." —Alice, Alice in Wonderland
I was perplexed...and wished the Lord would just make it go away. But it didn’t take long for me to see that I was masterfully set-up. Here I was in a position to pray that selfish kind of prayer (which is also sort of a self-fulfilling prophesy – when the Lord doesn’t take it away we can assume the thing is His will and give ourselves leave to go after it full force and justify sin) so I knew I couldn’t. I knew I just had to stand…churning stomach, spinning head and all. I also had to ‘fess. Now I wasn’t confessing to something I’d been concealing…this realization caught me completely by surprise. I was confessing or acknowledging the truth and opening myself up for accountability as I stood. I was also humbling myself by going to my friends and saying that this thing I’ve been oblivious to, even denied was there for a while now, in fact is an issue. (For those keeping up…this is the same “shaking and scary” thing I mentioned in a previous post.)
Do I even need to say that none of my friends were surprised?
NONE. Not one.
For a moment there I didn’t know who I was! And now I can’t help but be thankful for moments like that when I am shaken and my confidence in my ability to ascertain reality or what is in my heart is shattered, because it makes me realize who is the real judge and discerner of the hearts of men…whose reality I need to bow to...whose truth I need to trust.
I was still reeling a bit from this as I spent some time with the Lord this morning…wondering what this would look like as I walked it out…what this realization would change…how I would respond to it as the days and weeks go by. When I got to work, I read Daily Light and here is what it said:
We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.—“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Reading it again now, I am sort of choked up. There is nothing new under the sun…or anything too big for Him to overcome…nothing I can walk into that does not also have a way for me to escape…and His power in me is made perfect in weakness.
Made perfect in weakness. Wow.
Lord I AM weak…be strong that I might stand in obedience for your glory!