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Monday, November 28, 2011

Fear That Said Its Prayers

When Dorothy Bernard said, "Courage is fear that has said its prayers," she must have been thinking of me. I'm not a wave maker, a rule breaker, or a boat rocker. But I do stand up for myself when I have to.

More importantly, I'd like to think I stand up for the underdog, even if it costs me.

Last week I blogged about a faith challenge that I'm in the middle of. So far this has involved having some uncomfortable discussions (for these I drew on the advice of an old friend who once promised God that she would place a difficult phone call, but He would have to do the talking), as well as many hours of thought and prayer. I'm not sure what else this trial will entail, but in less than a week, God has provided ample resources for the task at hand.

My prayer partner, Tina, and I were looking at some Scripture that speaks to this situation. In 2 Kings 6:15-17, Elisha's servant succumbs to fear when he surveys the vast army possessed by Israel's enemies. He cries out in desperation, "Alas, my master! What shall we do?"

To which Elisha replies, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them."

The servant's eyes are then opened to see multitudes of horses and chariots of fire surrounding the two men of God.

Just a little glimpse of His heavenly arsenal.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Obedience vs. Outcome

There seems to be some dispute as to who wrote the following prayer, commonly known as The Serenity Prayer, but several sources I checked credit the 20th Century pastor, Reinhold Niebuhr, with penning it in the 1940s:

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

My prayer partner, Tina, and I were discussing this heavenly appeal today in connection with a faith challenge I'm working through. This particular matter is of no small significance, and has me somewhat knotted up when I let myself think about it. Tina is a good listener and an excellent adviser, and she reminded me of this simple prayer as I kvetched about my problem. She also compared worrying to sitting in a rocking chair, i.e., using up lots of energy to get absolutely nowhere.

After Tina and I had finished praying over my "Goliath," the phone rang again. This time it was another friend with a Philistine giant of her own. I told her I really had no advice to offer (this being a legal and family matter), but pointed her to the One who does. We began reading and praying through various passages of Scripture that pertain to difficulties and threatening situations. Together we looked at 1 Corinthians 10:13, in which God promises not to give us more than we can bear; the story of Gideon, detailing the Israelites' victory over oppressors using a small squadron of men, torches, and clay jars; and the account of King Jehoshophat, where God's people were told simply to suit up and show up for battle, and God would do the rest. 

We also considered Isaiah 55:8: "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" This reminded us that, as uncomfortable as life's curve balls may be, our Creator has a plan and we're not always privy to it. We're responsible for obedience, not outcome.

So I'm taking trembling steps toward resolution, knowing I'm walking in angelic and almighty company. It's also helping to recall past situations that have been gut-wrenching, muscle-building, and soul-stretching. I was pleasantly surprised to remember having survived several dozen slippery, unpleasant trials with hard-headed adversaries, only to come out stronger by the grace of God.

Why should this one be any different?

Check out Chris Tomlin's Whom Shall I Fear

For more like this, check out: 
Morsels for Meditation...: Fear That Said Its Prayers       Morsels for Meditation...: Called Off the Bench