A Prayer of Exhaustion

A prayer for when pushed past your limits:
 
Lord I am scared. I am worn out, defeated. I wake up dreading each new day, I go to bed late not wanting the day to end. I’ve given you my best, but it consistently has fallen far short as has been needed, and quite honestly I can’t even tell which way is forward anymore let alone how to get there.
 
But still YOU are GOD.
 
I pray that you save me. That you give me a path forward. For I am weak and cannot walk this path anymore. But even moreso I pray that if this is truly the path you would have me walk that you give me the strength to move forward. For how many could you save through one servant’s suffering? How many years of blessings could you bring in turn for this short period of pain?
 
I am broken, and in pain. I have lost so much yet still fear losing more. Each time I feel I’ve hit bottom, I am shown that there is still lower I can and will go. But more than my fear of losing what I have… I fear leaving your plans when they are still only half finished.
 
No matter where I am, nor what I have, nor what I am dealing with, you are watching over me, and you will provide. Even if many of my things I think I need go unanswered… even if I feel powerless watching those around me hurt and suffer knowing I have nothing left to give them… you will still provide when it is truly needed. You will let me feel the heat. You may even let me scorch. But you will not let me be destroyed.
 
Lord I pray again for I am scared. I am truly afraid and terrified. Yet I have seen your hand working so clearly throughout this all. I have seen you again and again working even if not in the areas I wish you were. Lord I am scared. I am scared. I am scared. These giants in my life are far larger than me. And I lay here chained in place half by my own doings. Lord forgive me for what sins I have done to bring me to this place, but also do not let your work be hampered by my own weakness. Lord to me these chains are lethal. Choking and restraining. To you they are brittle. Petty and weak.
 
Lord. I pray not for you to save me. Though I truly desire to be saved. I pray that you use me. That you use these circumstances to help me grow, and to encourage those around me. What a waste of suffering it would be if you brought me this far just to bring me back to where I left off. Lord I pray. I am not some victim struggling to survive. I am YOUR servant! Servant of the most high God!
 
Lord, if you are willing, I pray that you take this meager life, and use it to create an impact that only you can. For what do I have but you? What can I get that is not from you?
 
Lord, strengthen my heart, widen my understanding. Let these things soften me to become empathetic, not harden me to become bitter. Lord I am struggling. Lord I will fall. Lord I already have many times. Please Lord. I am yours. Do your way with me.
 
Amen
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Proof in Pain

What do you do when things keep going wrong?

I don’t mean you get called out for the corners you cut, at least then you would have the comfort in believing that things would be better if you pushed yourself harder… I mean, what do you do when you push yourself far beyond your limits daily, you address every sin you can think of, you organize yourself, you face things you don’t like doing, cut things out of your life that hold you back, pray daily and hard, read your bible daily and intently, seek wisdom of others, and you still fail! (Not that you are perfect but if life required perfection, which ones of us could stand?) When the problems that keep coming up aren’t from lack of foresight, but incredibly unlikely things which mercilessly barrage you and threaten to overtake you. “If it’s out of your hands, why worry about it?” Is comforting until most of your life is out of your hands… until you find yourself continuously backed into a corner… as your own strength and endurance is continually taken away from you, as the size of your problems only seem to multiply…

What do you do when life is unfair, there is no hope, and the harder you pray, the more ridiculously hard life gets?

You find hope in that…

Because there is no logical reason for all of this to happen… because it is totally unfair to suffer so much when others who work half as hard end up 10x more successful and relaxed. Because it makes no sense that the harder you pray for deliverance, the harder your suffering becomes…. it makes no sense unless you consider life simply trying to tell you to grow up and take life in your own hands.

But why would life try to say that? Why would a non sentient state of being alter the forces of our world just to get that point across? The only way is if there were an entity of great power trying to make one give up hope that there is an entity of great power. The only one who would benefit for the denial of their own existence is one who wishes to destroy you, or the devil. The only reason the devil would work so hard to make you give up would be if there was one he was trying to keep you from seeing.

The world says, “Because there is suffering there is no God.” I say, “because there is suffering there MUST be God!”

Take faith, walk strong, pray!

In the Belly of the Whale

What do you do when you’re in the belly of the whale?

I see a lot of posts, and hear a lot of advice from people who laugh and give nostalgic smiles, and say things like

“I used to be like you… full of dreams, full of passion. But I realized that life didn’t work that way. You need to buckle down and work hard. Put aside your passions until your can afford it. Put a fire under you and take on the jobs you don’t like… because even the best jobs are going to have days you don’t like! But God is faithful to those who work hard. Those who have ambition. Those who take life into their own hands and instead of waiting for him to do something make something with what they have! Remember the parable of the talents!”

But the problem is… what if your dreams and passions are to keep food on your table and a roof over your head? What if it’s not about doing work that’s unpleasant, but being overwhelmed from crying yourself to sleep as your body continues to break down one thing after another? What if you’re dealing with the sins in your life, trying to make responsible choices, but then thieves come, investments fall through, unexpected expenses keep popping up with health and things breaking?

5 years ago, I tried to live life according to my dreams… I took a job offered to me that would bring me closer to the person I was dating, I got an apartment that I could afford and seemed sturdy and safe. My plan was to work my way up and muscle through the grunt labour for a year or two so I could apply for better jobs and put my business diploma to use. Then when I was self sufficient I would marry my girlfriend, and we could live a nice, simple life, trying to help out those in our community around us by sharing with what God had blessed us with.

But as I worked there, I discovered something worrisome. I discovered that my best was below mediocre. I discovered my body was physically not capable of keeping up with the bare minimum requirements needed to keep working.

For an entire year I pushed myself. I lost about 60 lbs (40 of which were in the first 2 months), I saw my doctor, I exercised, I ate well, I pushed myself to the point that I would pass out for two days straight, and was often coughing up blood from the exertion barely being able to speak anymore… and yet not only could I not keep up with those who would simply be chatting or goofing off… my numbers were actually getting worse! I tried applying for other jobs, but my employee profile was tied to my ability to do my job, so my resumes would be instantly thrown out before they were even looked at. I was given a tough choice… quit with no job, or risk permanent damage to my body….

I chose the former and moved back home… then ended up working 6 hours a week for a year which put me into further debt. I wasn’t just a victim… I shop when I’m stressed… sometimes it’s for investments I think can help me move forward, sometimes it’s for distractions to distract me from reality around me. I got to my eyeballs in debt in spite of my applying everywhere and trying every angle I could get… Finally I fasted and prayed, and the next day I was offered a job as janitor at my church that I hadnt even applied for.

Around that time, I started studying Japanese. Originally it was just a step towards learning many languages (make your first your hardest and all other languages will be easy) but during that time, God slowly put Japan on my heart more and more. Till finally I asked Him to send me where He wants and He put Japan on my heart….. But I was up to my eyeballs in debt… and graduated college not university which makes immigration tough! And I knew my parents would hate the idea considering how much trouble I was already in!

So I backed out, justifying it by saying to God, “If you can provide the way there and win over my parents, I’ll study the language because thats all I can do!”

And I continued running… hiding and waiting for there to be less and less obstacles in my path… God offered many opportunities for me to follow… People who seemed eager to help me, contacts in conversation schools and churches… but I put them off… because I was scared… because I felt I couldnt do it… I was Jonah running from Ninevah. Though not because I feared Ninevah, because I feared the land I was in right now.

When I had the injury back in May, I realized I couldn’t run anymore (literally) I realized, it wasnt about trying to find a safe path to follow God… I needed to follow God so HE could lead me down the safe paths. And so I applied for University… I did serious research. I confronted my parents. I studied seriously…. I took myself from If God makes a way” to “I WILL follow Him!”

But now I am in the belly of the whale…. it must have been hard for Jonah… to finally decide to follow God and realize it was beyond his power to do so…. I understand that fully… But what do you do in those situations? When questions like “Where will I live, where will I work, how will I afford these next 2 years until I can go?” Fill your head.

You pray. You pray and you follow God.

The whale that prevented Jonah from going to Ninevah is exactly what got him there.

Pray and follow God. Trust in Him, not your own understanding. Human wisdom and pride are poor companions for following God. Focus on what you can do now. Let God worry about what you can’t do.

You are not making the path. You are following the maker!

You can do it. You are not alone. Amen

The Way Forward

Give God Your Best!
Continue To Strive To Improve
But realize that it is not your strength that can save you.
Realize until God says it’s time for you to be saved you will not be.
 
Is it your own failings that are holding you back? Would your life have been better if you had known about one weakness or another? Do you panic constantly about what sin in your life you can’t find yet that is keeping you from moving forward??
 
Don’t be crazy. If God worked like that how could anyone move forward? Are we not all sinners? Do we all not fall so short of where God wants us to be?
 
If life is not going the way it should then pray. Pray for God to save you. Pray for God to show you all you need to improve on. Pray for God to give you the courage to endure and the wisdom to move forward. But if you cannot think of how to improve, or if you stumble after trying so hard to overcome one sin in your life…. will God keep hitting you until you get it??
 
If there were a sin in your life you knew about but would rather justify or ignore than deal with than that is different. In fact, there will be many who will tell you this is the case as others can pick up the appearance of evil in yourself better than you can… but only you and God can truly know your heart.
 
If you know of sin in your life, deal with it! Even if you fail at dealing with it, keep trying to deal with it! Pray to God for help, He is very reliable when it comes to dealing with temptations! But if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong. If you can’t think of how you can do any better in your old weakness. Should you be beating yourself up on how you cannot move forward?
 
Does God’s plan rest on your shoulders? Does God’s plan rely on you having the purity of a saint? Does God’s plan require you to have a greater strength than any other human in the world?
 
God does not ask you to be perfect to complete His plans. In fact the Bible says many times that you never will be perfect.
 
It is not our goal to be perfect and lead His plans. It is our goal to follow Him!
 
God has used liars, cheaters, murderers, and lunatics. Idiots, cowards, the depressed, and the anxious. God CAN use you. God WILL use you. Realize your current circumstances does not rest on your shoulders alone. It is God who will decide what and when your rescue will be. And He will do all things for His glory and your good. So trust in Him!
 
Amen

When Your Best Gives You Nothing

What do you do when God doesn’t answer prayer?
 
What do you do when your best falls flat?
 
If you were being lazy, or not willing to give up a problematic vice, then at least you would have the comfort of believing you could dig yourself out of your current circumstances if only you kick your butt into gear…. but what if you’re already doing everything you can think of?
 
Now I don’t mean to say you’re doing everything perfect, because let’s admit it… we’re human beings. Our perspective is so limited that there’s no way we can figure out every possible answer… but if you’re praying, reading your bible, addressing weak areas, looking to others for advice, grabbing opportunities as you see them, making opportunities when you can’t see any, addressing areas you keep putting off, throwing yourself out there, and trying to stay open to where you are weak.
 
Not that you are doing it perfectly, but that you are giving it the best effort that you can.
 
We like to believe that as long as you put in enough effort, things will go our way. That anyone who doesn’t seem to keep up, is clearly not giving it their all… but there are also times when life just stinks.
 
When you give out resumes but they all fall through
Where you network with others but are quickly overlooked
Where you advertise but are immediately overshadowed
Where you budget, but unexpected experiences come up
Where you give the quality but have no fame
Where you try new things, but fall through
Where you give your best effort, but are slower than those who slack off
Where you fight through pain, but it doesn’t matter since you can’t bring results
Where you look for advice, and hear only what you already know
Where you look for comfort, but can not find understanding
 
There are times where you long to move forward but you no longer know what forward looks like.
Where if you panic and try anything, you’ll end up somewhere worse, but if you hold out and stay, things will fall apart anyways
 
So what do you do when human logic is clueless?
What do you do when human effort fails?
What do you do when the path forward is not clear?
What do you do when there’s no explanation for how badly things keep working out?
 
You pray. You pray. You pray.
 
When people ask me what I’m doing and I say I am praying… I do not say that to mean I don’t do anything on my own. No. I apply for jobs, I sell my wares and services, I seek opportunities, I look for ways to improve my weaknesses, to grow my skillset, to improve my existing one. I budget, rebudget, and rebudget again. I seek advice, learn from others, make connections.
 
Yes, I do all the things I can think of to do, but I tell you now that all those things in and of themselves are worthless if that is what you think what will save you.
 
Even if my odds of failure are 10000:1, if the Lord is still holding me back to teach me, then that 1 time will hit every time. If I were going by worldly standards I’d have nothing to say but that my luck is horrible…. but because I know God I can say I am still learning and growing.
 
So what? Has God abandoned me? Am I just sitting by waiting for judgement to come?
 
No! I would not say that at all!
 
I stand on a battlefield with thousands of enemies, and three giants have been approaching me closer and closer. They are giants who wish to kill me. They are giants I cannot defeat. They are giants I have prayed ceaselessly for months for God to save me from. They are giants who continue to remain untouched.
 
So where is God? What happened to my hope? Are my prayers so useless? Is it wrong for me to want? Is it wrong for me to hope? Is it wrong for me to ask? Am I just abandoned? Are my prayers defective??
 
It is true that the giants remain untouched…. and if the giants were all I looked at, then yes. I would say I had been abandoned… And yet… God has been at work…. He has been slaying countless enemies one by one. Enemies I have put off dealing with for far too long. Enemies who had weakened me. Enemies who had held me back.
 
I am still no match for the giants before me. No matter how strong God makes me, there is no way that I can save myself. But why would God take time to repair a ship He intended to let an approaching storm destroy? In that I can find encouragement, when all that lies before me is despair.
 
Now I want to take a moment to say, that I am not saying this as one who knows he will be saved. To tell you honestly, I’ve had my prayers unanswered time and time again…. it shames me to say there are days when I almost feel expectant that I will be ignored again… I have no proof that God will not let me drown. That God will not let me be attacked. That I won’t come out of this beaten beyond recognition.
 
But I do not serve God because He can save me. Were He to abandon me to my fate, were heaven itself to be not true. I would still have to serve Him. I do not serve God for what I get out of it. I serve God for He is God!
 
But Because I serve Him I ask Him. Because I serve Him I know His love for us. Because I serve Him I feel the courage to ask. Not because of what I deserve. But because He loves me enough to listen to my concerns. Because He loves me enough that He will provide and protect.
 
However, if I am to fail… my one regret would be that I am sure there would be those who would look at me and say “After all the talking he did! This is his result??” and believe God to be a fake. Or even worse! Those in the church who would say “We tried to warn him. God only helps those who take initiative. God only helps those who lead the way.” and use it to solidate such beliefs within their minds.
 
I will confess I would love to be saved. I don’t like hurting every day. I don’t like being scared at all times. The chains around my neck choke me to the point I feel I can hardly breathe. But more than anything… since God has brought me this far, I would love to be able to show the world what faith in Him can do.
 
I know there are many who read these posts, even when there are few who seem to like or comment. I get stopped from time to time from people who thank me, whether they agree with me or not, for giving them something to think about, and it makes me glad.
 
But I can rattle off philosophy, theology, economics, observations, and theories for as long as I can breathe…. but even still, there is no greater witness than to live your faith out to the fullest.
 
These last 5 years have been rough. These last 3 months have been murder…. but if there can be any good to come from my suffering, I want it to be this.
 
I want people to see what it means to choose to have faith. And more importantly I want people to see what wonders God can do with it.
 
Amen

Follow Him

Why is this world so scary?
 
Why do we hold so much fear?
 
What job will we have?
What will they think of us?
Will I get in trouble for this?
Will this work?
Will I have enough money to pay my bills this month?
Will I end up on the streets?
Will I lose everything I own?
Will I go bankrupt?
Will I live my life single?
Will they be offended?
Will they be disappointed in me?
Will they scold me again?
Will I lose support?
What if I get sick?
What if another emergency comes up?
 
We take worry after worry upon ourselves. We lose sleep and energy over obsessing over them. We go to great lengths to knock out as many threats as we can… but to what end?
 
You can give life your best to the point of exhaustion and depression, but if God so wills in, you will be accused of being a slacker.
 
You can apply to thousands of jobs, with a perfect resume, and wonderfully supported cover letter, but if God so wills it you will continue being overlooked and picked over for people with better smiles
 
You can be supportive and wise, but unless it’s the time God permits, you will only ever be considered “Just a friend.”
 
You can search the wisest people for direction and advice, but unless God inspires them, they will just tell you what you’ve already known and have already been working on as if it is the “Save all Answer”
 
You can live like a monk and save what pennies you can, but unless God protects you, all it takes is one scam, one unexpected crisis, and you’ll find yourself even deeper in the hole.
 
You can obsess over self care, taking all sorts of medicines, avoiding things you’re weak at, and exercising to grow stronger, but unless God watches over you, in three seconds you can have an accident that will ruin everything.
 
We are not on this earth to please others. We are not on this earth to protect/provide for ourselves. We are not on this earth to show the best business practices, wisest lifestyle choices, or best relationship advice.
 
We are here to follow God where He leads. To show what He can do through us. To show how He defies all logic. How to the world His logic is madness, but to Him their wisdom is meaningless.
 
At the end of the day, do not worry about the hundreds of thousands of people you must keep happy in order to follow God. In the end you are only responsible for following Him. If people get angry at you, it is because He let that happen in your life. If you go through loss, it’s because He let it happen. But do not be sidetracked trying to appease the many voices that come at you from all sides. Focus only on following God! He is able to restore all that you have lost and more. He is able to protect you no matter where you go. He is able to provide for you, no matter what you have. He can do more with nothing than you could do with everything.
 
Follow Him so you can have no shame. No matter what others say. No matter how they misinterpret you. No matter how they judge you from your state of life, not what you are doing. Realize God is the judge. God is the provider. That there is nothing you can accomplish without Him. So cling to Him, follow Him. Trust in Him
 
Amen

The Prodigal Son(s)

I was doing some thinking on “The Prodigal Son” today and it made me realize a few things that I often have just accepted and overlooked.
 
1. There are two sons… I know this is obvious, but when you think about it a bit more you start to realize the implications of this.
 
This was just a story Jesus made up. There was no facts to keep up with. Everything in the story was in it for a reason. So why include a second son? Was it just to show that we shouldn’t be envious when those who seem to do less than us seem to get more? Was it to show the outrage that it was the YOUNGEST son who demanded inheritance? Or was there something more to this? Was it just to show how the father loved both sons equally?
 
From a writing point of view, the two sons are very much foils to one another. While we don’t know for certain, it seems to be insinuated that while one felt entitled to ask for everything in spite of doing nothing, the other seemed to give his best without asking for anything (which is why he seems to be so upset when the younger brother comes back and gets so much more than he has)
 
To put it another way… I see many times in the church today, two types of Christians. The first treat God as their personal genie.
 
“ASK GOD AND CALL THIS HOTLINE AND YOU CAN HAVE A RICH HOME, BEAUTIFUL WIFE, AND ALL THE MATERIAL THINGS YOU WANT!”
 
The other side I see however, are people who see that first side and are so (rightfully) appalled at what they see that they go to the other extreme and feel they carry the weight of this world on their backs.
 
“God helps those who help themselves. God will support you but YOU have to do the grunt work. For miracles to happen you have to MAKE them happen! If you feel God calling you one way then make a business plan of how you’ll make it work and if you can’t well… maybe you aren’t hearing God right or maybe He means in like… 60 years or something.”
 
And that also doesn’t work… On the lighter end of things, God DOES want us to ask Him and for us to rely on Him. He says it time and time again in the Bible. On the darker side of things however… people who try to force God’s hand often regret it.
 
What happened when Saul tried to force God to protect them in battle because HE thought it was the right choice? What happened to Abraham when he tried to have a kid another way because HE thought he was running out of time and HE had to make God’s will happen? What happened to Peter when he fought against the Roman guards because HE thought that HE needed to protect God to keep God’s will happening? What happened to random person who tried to catch the arc of the covenant from falling because HE thought that it would break if HE didn’t intercede??”
 
We are so used to the bible telling us that these people did wrong that we tend to villainize them and make them appear so much weaker than we are in our eyes… when the truth is, it’s SO easy to do!
 
“God said for me to do ____ but I see no path forward. I should try to get my life together and THEN follow Him.”
 
“God put this cause on my heart, but I need to make ends meet this month, so maybe I’ll write a note to send them money or time when I can afford it.”
 
“God really put that person on my heart right now…. but they’re so radical liberal, and I’m with my incredibly extremely conservative friend right now… so I should try to find them later on.”
 
I’m not the one who can say what is the right answer or wrong answer in situations such as these…. but what I can say is how easy it is to out-logic God’s will and justify turning back… because sometimes…. often…. most times God asks us to do crazy things!
 
Which leads to point 2
 
2. It was never about what the brothers had or didn’t have.
 
The younger brother asked for the inheritance…. and here’s the crazy part… he got it! The younger brother complained about the younger brother getting a crazy party when he came home when he still had so little.
 
The thing that I realized from this, was that it was never about what they had or didn’t have.
 
The younger brother had stuff in abundance…. yet he failed. Why? Because he was living life as HE saw fit, (which brings us back to what I was talking about before)
 
It doesn’t matter what you have or don’t have. What matters is what God can do with it and if you are going to trust God with it!
 
He defeated an army with clay pots and torches. He toppled a giant with a kid and a smooth stone. He protected a nation with a talking donkey… owned by the person who was going to curse said nation in the first place. He fed 5000 with a few loaves of bread and some fish. He created mankind out of dust and some breath. He created the whole of reality out of nothing! Whatever you have or don’t have, GOD CAN USE IT!
 
It’s not about what you’ve been provided with. It’s about what you trust God to do with it, because even if you have nothing, God can do everything! And even if you have everything, you can still waste it all and accomplish nothing.