You know when you’re praying in church, and the person leading the prayer says something like ‘Lord, break my heart for what breaks yours.” and you get a little jolt in the middle of your lovely peaceful time with God, and you quickly add, silently, “That bit, Lord, I need to think about that a bit more, before I can say it and really mean it….” Well, I had one of those moments this week.
We were praying about faith, accepting that in hard times our faith will grow with God’s help, and then the prayer became that God would have some hard times lined up for us! So that in those hard times He would grow us. The prayer didn’t come out of nowhere. We had considered faith, considered how faith grows in hardship, the cost of faith and the great great rewards of faith. A good lesson and one I followed whole heartedly.
But even so, as we prayed that we would welcome trials of all sorts, my mental siren started to wail, the red lights flashed, prayer alert! Prayer alert! The mental clamour was deafening.
I thought, “Hold up, hold up! Hang on, Lord. Yes, if I go through a hard time, I want to go through it with you, but actually I’m quite happy not going through any more of them. Listen, shelve the sermon we just heard for a later time, I’ll come to it one day but not yet, because I can do without yet more heartbreak, loss, depression, storm, plague, pestilence, flood and fire in my life. I don’t want any of it. No good pretending, cos, flip me, you already know that.” Somewhat panicky I added ‘Please help me to want to learn all you have to teach me, whatever the cost.’
And then, of course, of course, His grace flooded in, and I had to smile at my stupid self (I hope God smiles at us in these moments) and yes, I did pray for another bloody old miserable hard time, knowing that even in the middle of it, there would be joy. Actually we learned a couple of weeks ago that joy personified is Jesus so maybe I should give his joy a capital letter, Joy.
My pal Lisa and I often talk about what we’re praying for, honestly, openly. She’s younger than me by a mile and she’s from another culture and she’s brainy so we have very little in common except for the biggie, Christ, so our conversation is often random, ricocheting between culture shock, Wales shock (it’s pretty crippling at times, is Wales shock) , her data-driven job, my meandering days, and always Jesus. We meet only every couple of weeks so a lot of our conversation is by email. This week she sent me the lyrics of a song and one line is a prayer that we will be undone by God. I emailed back that I don’t yet want to be undone by God but I want to want to be undone by God.
Happily, we don’t have to screw up our courage and determination and stubbornness, grit our teeth and clench our jaws and face into the wind, straining to surrender, to be broken. Good job too, because we can’t do it. Every instinct and selfish protective mechanism in our mind-set will stop us from surrendering totally, completely. So I very often pray the want to want to prayer.
Lord, I want to want to be broken.
Lord, I want to want to love that person.
Lord, I want to want to let go of this fear.
Lord, I want to want to learn even the hardest lesson.
Won’t you please help me to understand brokenness and to embrace it? Because while I don’t want be broken, I know it’s the best way to be, so please, help me to want to be broken for you.
Won’t you please help me to love that really awkward person who can’t stand me? Because on my own I really don’t want to love them, I just want to kick them on the shins, quite hard. The best I can say is that I want to want to love them.
Won’t you please take away this fear and help me to stand upright by your side? Because I don’t yet want to let go of this self protective fear but I want to want to, and that will be my first step.
And hey, Lord, if you really have got any more hard lessons lined up, and I think you have… I know you have…. won’t you help me to want them, really want them, to step into them with your Joy which is Jesus, and help me to welcome them whole blinking heartedly?
Because I want to want to, but I can’t do it on my own.
I think God says:
‘OK, Luce. Stand by.’
Standing by. Bring it on. SO exciting.