Controlling through Intercession

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Just in case there’s any question, this isn’t a good thing.

Control, or the need to control, usually stems from a lack of faith in God to take care of our circumstances.  The control that I’m talking about here is a negative desire to control the circumstances around us through “intercession”, even though it’s likely not done intentionally.

Sunday morning I was driving to church and I saw for what seemed like for the thousandth time, dozens of FOR SALE signs lining one of the most beautiful streets in Nashville.  Some are for auction, others, I’m sure are in foreclosure.

As I do from time to time, I began to lift up Nashville to God and ask Him for mercy, praying intensely for, or interceding on behalf of the city. These houses represented to my mind, a need for the finances of many in this city to be rescued. As is the case for much of the country right now, Nashville needs help with the economic side of things, so my prayers were directed there.

As I began to pray, the Lord made it very clear that I was not to carry the burden for Nashville.  Even now, as I write this, knowing that this city is not mine to rescue feels like something is being ripped out of me.  Why?  Well, I can only assume that feeling is there because at one point, or at all the points up to this one, I have needlessly “carried” Nashville on my shoulders in prayer — not out of a true desire to see God do His will, but to feel that I have some level of control over my environment — with the mask of a intercessor.  This breaks my heart.  To think that I’ve been deceived all this time…  Selfishly, and self-righteously petitioning God to lift up this city and take care of the people within it, while not truly giving Him room to do all He desires.

Were these prayers in vain?  Did they accomplish little to nothing because of my sinful heart, which wanted my will over His?  I have no idea, but I do know that I no longer need to falsely carry the weight of a city’s destiny on my shoulders. And I’m not saying that my heart was wrong or that I had intentionally prayed out of wrong motives, but we can only fulfill our potential to the degree that we are healed — with Jesus being the standard.

Some people may wonder what is wrong with carrying the burden of a city. For some, there may not be anything wrong with it. For me, I feel it was because there was a need to control my circumstances (i.e. get value from feeling that I was contributing to the greatness of a city).

Here’s truth:

1. I don’t have to do anything, be anyone, go anywhere or look any certain way to be loved unconditionally by the only one who truly matters in the end.

2. My life’s hurts, fears, disappointments and scars leave deep wounds in the form of lies and deceptions that skew the way I view myself, God, and the world around me.

3. Out of those wounds mixed with truth, I operate to the best of my ability.  Sometimes my best isn’t sufficient to accomplish a goal on my own.

4. Ultimately, I must rely solely on God for everything.  He is the only one who gives me any ability whatsoever and it is only as a response to my love for Him and of His love for me that I should act.

Papa God, your truth is beautiful. There is so much room to rest and enjoy your glory when my false responsibility is removed. Continue to teach me to be a servant, a friend, a son and an heir.  Your love is amazing.

Living without measure

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1 Chronicles 21.

In the NIV, it says Satan came up against David and “incited” David to take a census of Israel. This wouldn’t seem like a big deal except the motivation on David’s part was wrong. Joab, the person David instructed to count the “fighting men” knew this wasn’t a good idea because, after all, “are they not all my lord’s subjects?”

David gave in to the temptation to measure his strength and power, and in so doing dishonored God. This was his disobedience. He fell prey to the need to understand his circumstances.

There’s no way to know exactly what was going on in David’s head, but it’s likely that he wanted to know that he was prepared in the case of battle. The number of fighting men only needed to be known in a situation where David was challenged by another army. But because God had blessed David so much, it was an insult to God for David to measure the blessing. He was not satisfied with his reliance on God to handle whatever circumstance might come his way.

When I am feeling insecure about life, I suddenly need to measure what I have to help build my confidence. I may measure my money in the bank or my title at my job or my appearance compared to others…

It’s all a dishonor to God. He sent His son so that we wouldn’t need to worry, so that we could live life abundantly.

To live without measure requires great faith and understanding of who God is and how much He loves us. Looks like I’ve got some work to do.

Working for Yourself when You’re Working for Someone Else

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This is a slow week. I’m in a 40 hr/week job and I love it, but I’m used to getting direction from people who have more vested in the company that I do. This week, those people are busy. They can’t give me a task on which I am to be measured. This leaves me with an option. My time can be used doing things that are valuable to me, or it can be used doing things that are valuable to the company. What do I choose?

My answer to this question is one of work ethic, but it’s not as straight forward as it might appear. You see, even if the decision to do what’s right for the company is an easy one to make, for me to know how to act on that decision requires me to know the company! Part of my job is to have enough ownership of my position, enough passion to carry on the vision of the company and enough value for myself and the people around me to learn what makes the heart of this organization beat. It’s working for yourself in the midst of working for someone else.

Like a good husband, who actively pursues the best for his bride, learning how she communicates and how she gives and receives love and then meeting her there, an employee who will be valuable for years to come is one who does the same for the company for which he works.

So do I do what’s best for the company when I don’t have a specific task to accomplish? Absolutely. But first, it’s time to know what makes her heart beat.

Knowing People

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My dad has a difficult time speaking the same language as me.  This has lead to many arguments and frustrations as a son, longing for a deeper connection with my father.  His gifts are simply in other areas and I’m learning to see that he says, “I love you” in different ways than I hear it.  That’s all fine and dandy, but I want to be known.  A few friends of mine really know me and when I have a good or bad day, they immediately know the context.  For me, it’s one of the most important things in a friendship.

In the past week or so, people I would call friends have told stories to groups of people that I had not known previously.  I mean, these are somewhat personal, but not secretive things that, as a friend, I should have known.  But I didn’t find these things out on my own.  I didn’t offer to these other people what I myself treasure.  What else have I missed out on because I didn’t take the time to ask the right questions?  Why would I have been so content to maintain such a shallow friendship?

One person talked about their fears of losing anything or anyone they pursued because of lossed dreams in the past.  Soccer scholarships destroyed and dreams of fashion design taken.  Another person had recently lost 100 lbs. with good ole fashion diet and excersize.  Not only did I not ask, but I couldn’t tell!  Because I forgot what a joy it is to get to know people, I fear that I have missed out on numerous conversations and the depth of frienship.

Because of this realization, I’m going to make an effort to start asking questions — listening to people’s heart and learning to experience life with them.  Perhaps the key to a good relationship with my dad lies in my ability to, like a friend, get to know him.