Hi, everyone. It’s been a while since my last post. In January, the Lord gave me a “heads up” of a trial that would be forthcoming. He wasn’t kidding!
At the time, I was high on the mountain. Clouds obscured the valley. It felt like I was a mere step or two from heaven itself.
“Can this be?” I wondered. “Is this even possible?”
In a word – yes.
Many things broke loose at once, two major strongholds were broken in people around me that carried great significance for me as well, and the size of our household went from just the two of us to the eight of us…a major adjustment in itself.
During this time, the Lord is teaching us to walk with Him, and to trust Him completely. At the same time, He is teaching us to love others, and to leave off any attempts to “fix” them. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard Him whisper, “Shhh” to me just as I was preparing to address one matter or another in one of our new residents.
Being a “fixer” by nature, this has been a challenge, for sure.
However, as I stated earlier, there is a great deal of peace and freedom that comes from just loving – and allowing the Spirit to do His work.
What I want to chat about, though, is Daniel. What a remarkable man.
Although he’d had no part in the sin that caused the Israelites to be taken into captivity – and remained faithful to the Lord throughout his life, we find him having the most amazing conversation with God in Daniel 9. His words went like this:
“Alas, O Lord…we have sinned, committed iniquity, acted wickedly, and rebelled, even turning aside from Your commandments…moreover we have not listened to Your servants…
“Open shame belongs to us, O Lord…because we have sinned against You.”
Did you catch on whose behalf Daniel confessed?
This is an excellent way to pray: realizing that we are members of God’s community. What affects one, affects all. Because he saw the problem as “our” problem instead of as “their” problem, God was pleased to grant his petition.
Daniel “stood in the gap,” and the Lord responded.
How different from the parable Jesus told in Luke 18:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-collector.
“The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector…’ But the tax-collector was unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying ‘God be merciful to me, the sinner!’
“I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other.”
I’m going somewhere with this…stick with me!
When it comes to pointing out someone else’s sin to the Lord, I’ve come to realize that very often He turns my attention from what they are doing to the same sin within me. It may not look the same in me, but it is there, nonetheless.
As in Jesus’ example above, we have two men: one who placed heavy financial burdens on people, and one who placed heavy religious burdens on people. Both caused undue stress; both were extracting from others beyond what they were able to give. Both had titles – the Pharisee’s was respectable, while the tax-collector’s was not.
That’s where the similarities ended.
The Pharisee saw himself as righteous (which is why he prayed to himself!), while the tax-collector had a more realistic view of his condition.
When we are in prayer for others, it is imperative that we ask the Lord if what we see in others also resides within our own hearts. Once we can see the plank in our own eye, and confess it, the Lord often begins His work on the other person.
For instance, when my children were disobedient and driving me to distraction, the Lord showed me that my own willfulness and rebellion was causing a strain in my relationship with Him.
When they were constantly asking for new toys and material goods and I asked for wisdom in how to handle this, He showed my own discontent with what I had…and how my prayers to Him were more like a grocery list than a conversation with the One I loved. I just wanted the goodies without any real relationship.
I could give countless more examples.
Interestingly enough, once I saw that their sin was also my sin, then confessed and repented, the Lord began to work on their hearts concerning the matter. They were His tools to show me my fault.
Not every time, mind you, but often enough for me to see it!
When we pray, we need to “dare to be a Daniel,” identifying with the sin of those around us…and looking for a variation of it within our own hearts.
Prayer is a clever way the Lord uses to expose the thoughts and intents of our own hearts. I like this way much better than being knocked upside the head and told what an idiot I am. I’m thankful He doesn’t use this method!
Have a blessed week.
I love you all and miss you very much.
Praising Jesus who is my refuge!