Failure to Communicate

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When we fight, we fail to communicate. We think we are right, so we argue our point to the other person. We genuinely think we know what is true, but we do not always know, especially when it comes to literally everything. However, God knows all. Maybe it is time to stop talking, start praying, and let God sort out the other person’s behavior.

I saw something I had written down long ago, stressing all day about someone who was giving me a tough time. A book popped up out of nowhere that said give it to God. I wanted to throw my phone across the room. Are you kidding me, how could I? This was too important. If I got this wrong, what would happen to me? In my mind, it was if God was not completely aware of what was going on. How wrong could that be?

When we are thoroughly convinced of something, it is hard to receive any more input on the subject. Our brains tend to override our thinking and flush out everything that does not sit well with our beliefs. Obviously, those idiots did not hear the valuable words offered during the argument, so we feel the urgent need to express them much louder. Why else would they not hear them? We feel obligated to make sure they fully understand our point of view.

The trouble is, as much as we think we know how to communicate, we do not. This is why we need an advocate; someone who knows the other person better than we do and even better than they know themselves. It is God who knows their thoughts and hearts; plus, yours also. What better way to bridge the gap of understanding between two people, especially those in conflict with each other.

Do all that you can up to a certain point, at which the hardest part becomes letting go of the rest and trusting God to bridge the gap.

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God Does it for me

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Something my dad taught me to do many years ago was to start every day with prayer. Hearing and practicing are distinctly different though. Throughout the years he continued to emphasize the importance of alone time with God and how it helps us deal with whatever comes up during that day. I have lived long enough to know the truth of that statement and cannot recall the number of days wondering how I would make it through. But by grace, I made it through each one.

In recent months, I realized once again that I simply have too much on my mind. My career is challenging and with it, the stress comes often. Solving problems is part of the process but it is not something easily turned off. I see problems everywhere and ponder solutions to most of them. Add to that, the constant need to be connected and stay up to date with the latest on everything. It feels like a mouse spinning on a wheel, moving with great haste but getting nowhere.

Well, I finally took my dad’s advice. Shortly after waking up, I pray over the day, family, and friends, and give the day over to God. At times I listen to short clips of sermons or positive messages to let the first thing heard be something good. On my drive to work, I often witness the most gorgeous sunrises, especially a new one by a lake on the way. The vast array of colors is truly remarkable and nearly takes my breath away each time.

On break, I often walk around and take in rays of sunshine. I gaze up into the clouds and out over the blue sky. The birds soar freely in the air and squirrels chase each other around in the trees. Not every day appears beautiful, and on those I watch the rain fall tirelessly, as if there were no end. Yet eventually, the blue-sky returns, and the chirping of the birds resumes.

Far from the city lights when the day ends, the blue sky is hidden by the night. Up in the sky, I am witness to hundreds, maybe thousands of stars that fill the dark country sky. Another day has come and gone. I used to pray only shopping list prayers, as if God only existed to answer all my requests. While I do still pray like this at times, I came to appreciate more, simply by taking notice.

In the busyness of life, the rush tries to take away the little moments of peace. The loudness of everything that cries for my attention tries to drown out the softness of God’s voice. Matters of urgency will always be there but not all are as important as they first seem to be. One of my favorite scripture verses in troubled times is Psalms 46:10. When I am still, I notice more. Over the years, it has become something of immense value to me.

Some days in my communion with God, I express my gratitude for some of these things mentioned. Doing so seems to multiply the moments I have like this, to take in all the beauty that surrounds me. I cannot help but think to myself, God does it all for me. Not because there is anything special about me. Not because I have done everything right. No, simply because I pay attention, not to all that is wrong with the world but all that is right. Seek and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened. I believe God does it all for me but would for you too.

Find a way to pull gratitude out from a mixed-up life; it will change the way you see things.

Copyright ©2022 All Rights Reserved.

Silence after Prayer

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Just because it is silent after a prayer doesn’t mean God is not listening. Nor does it mean God approves of what it is you are praying for. In the rush of decision making nowadays, we want an answer immediately. As a Christian though, I want to pray about decisions before making them, especially for the larger ones. On the surface, this seems like the right thing to do. However, praying before doing is actually the easy part because it is routine.

The difficult part often comes next, if that is, you actually wait for an answer. If you are like me, many times you only wait five minutes. If not given an answer in that amount of time, then certainly God must be okay with it, right? If it were only that easy. However, it usually never is. Sometimes we allow the noise around us to overtake the still small voice inside us. How would you feel if you were trying to speak, and someone continually allowed your voice to be drowned out? What if you were trying to speak to them and they suddenly turned up volume of the radio or television?

It would be downright arrogant and foolish to think that God always sided with our decisions. The sad part of it is, we always hold Him accountable for when it doesn’t work out right. Sometimes I wonder, if right before we’re about to do something stupid, God whispers not to do it. Then, when we panic in our own foolishness, God waits for us to seek Him out for the answer. In the meantime, we turn to everything under the sun, which He created, for answers. Finally, at the end of it all, we say, “I guess all we can do now is pray.”

That attitude about prayer makes me cringe. What makes me angrier, is that I’ve said it myself. For me, I genuinely believe in the God I am praying to, which in effect means I believe in the power of prayer. Prayer is difficult to explain to someone who has never done it before. I have a friend from China that once commented that praying was like talking to the air. If you stop and think about it, talking literally is – talking to the air. The difference is in who you think is listening or not.

When you talk out loud to another person, there are various kinds of responses they could give. If they were in another room and you spoke out loud, if no response came, would you assume no one was there? If you heard an audible voice, you would know someone was there even though you could not see them. If a person was far enough away, you could still see them, but no longer hear them. If you were flying high in a plane, you would not see, hear, or be able to touch them; yet there they could be.

Last night, I was driving and saw a young man parked next to the road standing next to a monument of flowers at a place where he lost someone to a car accident. In a moment’s notice, I was touched by his pain. The man was completely unaware of me yet reached inside my soul and grabbed my heart and gave it a squeeze. I turned the radio off and prayed for him.

Crying eyes communicate sorrow. A genuine smile communicates joy and happiness. The point is, there are tons of ways to communicate but it takes a great deal of effort to learn how. Imagine how hard it would be to communicate your thoughts, feelings, and desires if you only knew ten words. When you know twenty thousand words, you can tell a different story. But to learn that many words, one must get ready for a long learning curve! If you sincerely desire to communicate with another, then you will put forth the effort to do so.

When reading the Bible, it tells me about who God is. When I read the New Testament, it tells of God took on the human form as Jesus. He walked among us, talked with us, cried with us, and gave us hope. He healed the sick and blind, and set captives free. He blessed the poor and meek in spirit. He preached that there was a way of restoration to the precious relationship with God the Father, and that He was that way.

In the mornings, I see the glory of a new sunrise. I witness the uniqueness of every living organism scattered throughout the earth, some of which the human eye still has not witnessed. At night I look toward the heavens and witness the vastness of an unimaginable universe filled with galaxies and stars. Meanwhile the moon perfectly balances out our planet, controlling the tides of the oceans. Under a microscope, a whole new world explodes right before my eyes on a cellular level. When a snowflake falls, while I no longer eat them on my tongue, I do marvel at the level of such exquisite detail that is put into something that seconds later disintegrates.

Why would the Creator of all things do things this way? Why put so much complexity into literally every material thing humanity would spend thousands of years trying to comprehend? Why create a universe driven, bound and balanced by laws, in a perfect, intricate balance? I suppose those things matter to God. Maybe they matter to us, whether we realize it or not. When I read the Bible and it tells me that this unmatched force that exists, not bound by time nor space, wanted to have a personal relationship with me through Jesus, I had to explore what that would mean. I set out on a course to know who Jesus was. It took years but I realized that I want to spend the rest of my life in pursuit of Him! Nothing else compares and never before have my expectations been so wildly exceeded for a fulfilled life.

If you hear silence after prayer, do not stop praying. Jeremiah 29:11 is a popular verse in scripture. Verses 12 and 13 take it further by saying that God will listen to prayer and when sought with all the heart, God will be found! To my friend from China… prayer is not speaking to the air, but to God that created it and everything along with it!

Free Indeed

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Freedom is precious and not to be taken lightly. It is desired because we all are or have been bound by something. Our hearts yearn for freedom from oppression of all sorts. We even expect someone to swoop in and rescue us so that we will not have to rescue ourselves. What if freedom is not granted in the way we wish it to be? I am convinced that sometimes being happy is just walking with God until the things that stress us out and keep us up at night no longer bother us. Many times, we chase our tails, and expect God to work like a genie, granting our every wish and desire. I don’t believe it works that way.

There are times when answers to our prayers are a resounding yes. I know for me it is more often when my will reflects His. I believe in praying for all kinds of things. However, my prayers have changed throughout the years. I remember once praying that I would win one of the major state lotteries. I prayed earnestly, “Lord, you know my heart. Think of all the good that would come from this money!” While that statement may be true, I don’t think it resembles the way Jesus taught the disciples to pray. Before praying, we should analyze our motives to make sure what we are praying for is the right thing.

Other times, there may be a “not now” response, which comes across as a no. At least it’s a no until further notice, which never seems to satisfy my timeline. Based on my limited understanding, I acknowledge God’s ways are higher than my ways. I want everything now and dislike the unbearable waiting period. I genuinely believe though that some things we need to wait for. As a child, it was bad enough that my head found the corner of every table in the house. If my parents would have given me a motorcycle when I turned seven years old, it would have been a recipe for disaster. Given my inability to properly operate one at that age, I’d consider them horrible parents for putting me at risk like that. But with aging comes the ability to grow into things that once would have hurt us. Now, as a fully capable adult, I can handle much more than I once could.

Last may come the least favorite response of them all, “no.” We pray for God to remove something from our lives and nothing changes. Or we pray hard that something will happen, and it doesn’t. This is the place where some people drop their faith off at the door and leave God behind. Others stay in the race, fighting hard to stick it out. The latter often find their relationship with God grows so deep that they cannot imagine ever being spiritually apart from Him. Even when we slip away, whenever we feel a strong pull, we are drawn back in. When we turn from our bad decisions and choose to follow Christ, our relationship with the Father blooms again without interference, shame, or guilt.

If you are gratefully living with an answered prayer, awesome! But if you find yourself in a waiting period or even denied something, don’t lose heart. Every day, God’s grace can see us through what we must face. Ultimately, we can be transformed if things do not go as we intend. When we feel trapped in our wrongful ways, apart from God, we can be set free from the bonds that hold us captive. Not just free temporarily, as is often found in a short-lived chemical dependency, but free indeed, where we no longer need those things. We are all trapped in some form of prison. The objective is not to point and laugh at each other’s weakness or look down our noses at them. No, take somebody by the hand and pray for them. Help pull them up into a better life. It’s time to be set free, like in John 8:31-36. Not just free, but free indeed!