Have you ever thought a situation was hopeless? Did you lose hope in reaching someone? I have and my response to it was not like I wanted it to be. I prayed about it, but without hope. I prayed without much faith. Me, the person of great faith, had little faith and little hope.
Why is it so easy to have faith that God will see us through an illness and not make a difference in the heart of someone else? Or resolve a situation the way we want? Did you catch that? “The way we want”? There lies the problem. We make it about us, not about God.
Our desires, even in the purest of form (to bring them into the faith we love), overshadows God and His ability to work miracles. I have a friend whom I feared was struggling with their faith. I prayed for them, tried to encourage them, but the doubt remained. Then in a moment, I had a glimmer of hope, that they still had their faith hidden deep within. My heart leaped for joy! As I reflected on my prayers and concerns, I realized one small thing. I realized that my desire for them to remain in the faith overshadowed my ability to see where God was and how He was working.
Our desire to save others from themselves or from a place that there is no faith in God, is noble and it is a necessity; however, we cannot save them. I cannot tell you how many times I have told someone, “It is not our place to save them, only plant the seed.” And yet, I failed to live by my words. I wanted to save my friend. I wanted to spare them the heartache that I felt when I walked away from the church and my faith. Young and stupid, strong willed and clueless, that was me. I was moving out of my parents’ house and on my own. I expected to find friends at work or in a bar. I did not need God or church. I saw first-hand what the church was and wanted no part of it.
My childhood church was full of well-meaning people. Before you think I am going to bash that church, I am not. EVERY church is full of well-meaning people. But those well-meaning people are just broken people with an audience. “Lend me you ear” was more than the start of Mark Anthony’s speech in Caesar by Shakespeare. It was a common factor in our small town and in our church. Hurtful rumors and comments that shattered lives, I watched what others did to people that did not bend to their ways. They drove good pastors away and they drove good people away. I wanted no part of a church like that.
God knew where I needed to be, I finally came to the same conclusion I needed to be in church again. God placed me in a church that was growing, and He placed people in my life that I needed at the time. He continues to do that for me, so why was it so hard for me to believe he would do that for my friend? Because my prayers were wrong. No prayers are wrong, but my direction was. I was saying all the right words, but I was expecting God to snap His fingers and make it happen. His timing not mine. Sometime our expectations of God really gets in our way. My friend needs time to experience life with God and without God, not matter how painful I find it to watch. It is the only way they will figure out where God fits into their life.
My prayers have shifted. Instead of praying for a generic experience for my friend, I find myself praying for a better direction for them. Better friends, better relationships, and to find the need for Him in their life. Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” God’s grace is the only way my friend can see their need and time will be the factor. I cannot save, but God can. It is not my place for I would boast. He can and He should get ALL the glory for it.
How are you praying for others in your life? Pray for their hearts and for the influences that are present in their lives or may come into their lives. And remember, God’s grace and God’s timing…